Not much to say about tonight’s game. It’s the first game after the longest streak of practice the team has had since the addition of the OKC players. Maybe the guys were thinking a little too much out there, instead of just playing. There was no flow on the offensive end (except in the 3rd quarter) and Harden keeps turning the ball over (6 TO tonight) that the Nuggets converted into easy baskets. Harden forced things a little too much today. He was counting on getting calls on his drives to the basket, which didn’t come. Iguodala did an excellent job of defending Harden. This is the worst Linharden game of the season, not just in terms of stats, but also in terms of chemistry. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but with every game, it seems like Harden is becoming more and more of a ball stopper. But it’s still early. I think they have to go back to a more free flowing offense. McHale is a little too fixated on running things through Harden. This strategy does make sense, since Harden is their highest paid player and it’s still early, so McHale is still trying to see what works. I think he did make adjustments and go to a free flowing offense in the 3rd quarter.
Despite Lin’s mediocre stats, with the exception of 6 steals, I thought Lin played a pretty solid game in terms of providing stability on the floor. I also noticed that Harden didn’t bring the ball up the court very much in tonight’s game. Maybe McHale noticed all the turnovers that Harden has been committing and is going to more of a 70/30 division of ball-handling labor with Lin handling the ball 70% of the time. Just like in the last game, McHale rested Lin a little too much (even more so in this game) when Lin wasn’t tired and McHale played Harden too much today when Harden was having a bad game. Lin is always on the floor with Harden, whereas Harden is sometimes on the floor without Lin. I don’t think this makes sense. I think it should be the other way around–especially in tonight’s game, since Harden was having a tough time. The problem is, when Lin’s on the bench the stability goes away, since Harden isn’t as consistent of a floor general.
Denver did a good job of protecting the paint today, and I thought Lin exercised good patience and didn’t force things when he went in to congested lanes in the paint. He kept his dribble. That was good to see. Harden forced things in congested lanes and that’s what contributed to many of his turnovers. In the first quarter, the entire team as a whole, except Lin, turned the ball over quite a bit, because they didn’t know where each other were on the floor. It’ll take time to get the chemistry down. I still think that the chemistry pre-season was much better than I’ve seen them during the regular season. I felt like the ball was really moving around, whereas the ball is stopping a little too much–especially with Harden. I’m sure the coaches notice this and are still trying to figure out how to best use Harden in a free flowing offense.
It was good to see Patterson having a good game today. Also, Delfino hit some critical threes to keep us in the game. Overall, though, we were terrible on the offensive end. We’re still shooting very poorly from the field as a team. And Lin had a wide open three that was way off. It looked ugly! Again, in the preseason, we were shooting the lights out. But that’s probably because it was the preseason. But I also think it’s because we had much better ball movement. I thought Lin did a good job of moving the ball today, that’s why I thought, despite his poor stats, he had a pretty solid game. I felt he should have played more today. Douglas did have his beast game of the season tonight, but that’s not really saying much. He had a couple of good pick-and-rolls with Asik. I don’t know why Lin doesn’t do any high screen pick-and-rolls in Houston. I think they’re under-utilizing Lin’s strengths. I rarely see him do any pick-and-rolls in Houston. They gotta work on that. It was nice to see Lin shoot short jumper when he drove into a congested paint. Players should do that more. I think they used to do that more back in the day. But now players either settle for the long range or go straight to the hoop. The short jumper is a lost art in basketball these days.
Overall, not much to report. The guys and coaches are still trying to figure things out. Still disappointed that we haven’t seen Greg Smith or Terrance Jones play.