Rockets Show how Good They can be with Stunning Blow Out of Knicks

Apologies for the delayed game posting. Just been busy with holiday festivities.

I didn’t get a chance to see this entire game. I only started watching with less than 5 minutes or so to go in the second quarter, so I missed Chandler’s 18-point first quarter performance. When I turned on the game, I was very surprised to see the Rockets ahead by 3 and that was after the Knicks went on an 11 to 2 run. Because the Rockets had looked pretty bad against the Lakers and the Jazz (and they weren’t great against the Bulls, either), I expected the Rockets to get blown out by the Knicks.

However, before their Lakers and Jazz performance, I expected the Rockets to be as good as they were last night, ever since the beginning of the season. But they hadn’t looked good, lately, so I thought it would take a lot more time for the Rockets to show their full potential. Last night, the Rockets really shocked me by playing up to their potential. Although they’ve had stretches or quarters in previous games where they were firing on all cylinders offensively or defensively, this is the first game in which the Rockets were on for a full 48 minutes on both ends of the court. The Knicks looked like they were just not expecting the Rockets to be that good, so I think that may have contributed to the blow out. I think the Knicks under-estimated the Rockets. But that’s a little surprising, because I would think that it would be a game that the Knicks would really want to win, just as much as Lin did. So I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say that the Knicks just didn’t show up. I think Knicks simply got outplayed. The Rockets exposed their poor defense, which was is surprising to me, because Woodson is all about defense. I haven’t watched the Knicks all season, so I have no idea how they play. I’ve just been seeing them win game after game, so I figured they were good. But last night, they looked like the Knicks of last season–except they were much better shooters.

Parsons and Asik had the best games of their careers and Harden had one of his best games, as well. Lin did better than he has done in weeks and even hit a three point shot. His first, probably since the air ball in Miami. I think that air ball has had a huge impact on Lin’s game, because ever since then he’s been shooting terribly. Hopefully, that three he hit last night stops his awful shooting slump and he can get back to being an adequate shooter from the field. Of course, Lin really wanted to do well last night and, although he wasn’t stellar by any means compared to his teammates, he definitely stepped up from his terrible performance as of late. So that’s going to do a lot to boost his confidence. Maybe this is just the “breakout game’ that Lin needed. I’m sure Lin was just as concerned as I was about facing the Knicks. Now that it resulted in the Rockets not just winning but obliterating the Knicks, I’m sure that will have a significant positive impact on Lin’s psyche. I thought coach Sampson really looked out for Lin tonight, knowing that Lin really wanted to do well against the Knicks. Sampson gave Lin more playing time than he has since he took over for McHale. I know the total minutes didn’t speak to that, but that’s because most of the fourth quarter was garbage time. So the fact that Lin played 35 minutes in basically three quarters says that Sampson really wanted this game to be a confidence booster for Lin. Sampson also left Lin in the game for the last possession before halftime without Harden and let Lin make a play, which resulted in a wide wide open three for Douglas. So I’m happy to see the Rockets continuing to experiment with the ball in Lin’s hands at the end of quarters. In the post game interview, Sampson said that Lin played with swag and that he was really happy to see that. Even though Sampson doesn’t have full confidence in Lin, I think he is a Lin supporter, who wants to see Lin play aggressively if it will help the team. So it’s really up to Lin to do well. I think he has a pretty good support network in Houston. He’s the only one who can get himself out of his shooting slump. And really that’s the only thing he needs to get better at. He’s solid in all other aspects of his game. Just needs to be able to shoot adequately to keep the defense honest.

The last two games have been huge for the Rockets psychologically. They gutted out a grinder against a rugged Bulls team in which they won the game even though they did a lot of things wrong and they blew out the team with the best record in the NBA. These two wins are huge confidence boosters. Hopefully, the Rockets will build on these two wins. As great as the Rockets looked last night, they have potential for more, because Lin is still not playing up to Lin’s capabilities. Once Lin gets his rhythm back and starts being an adequate shooter, the Rockets can become even more dangerous. So it’s really all up to Lin, because he’s the only key Rockets player that has been struggling. I feel like all the other key Rockets guys have been consistently solid. Parsons really struggled at the beginning of the season, but he’s really come alive since then and has been playing well above expectations. All the work he did off-season has really paid off. Harden has done a great job of playing his game again after a short stretch where he was forcing things too much and playing hero ball. I think Harden has figured how to play within the flow of the offense, which is something he’s always done and is starting to be more efficient, again. Asik has been the most consistently solid and is continuing to improve his offensive game. He’s making concerted efforts to go hard to the rim and dunk the ball like a powerful center, rather than finessing his shots. Lin is the only key player who has been struggling consistently. So the Rockets won’t be able to play to their potential until Lin can get out of his shooting slump and can keep the defense honest. Once Lin does this, the the Rockets can be the team that I envisioned them to be at the beginning of the season, when I said that they’d be a lock to make the playoffs. If Lin doesn’t improve, then I think the Rockets will continue to be up and down all season long and finish slightly under 500.

About JLintel

NOTE: On June 11, 2016 I switched the comments section to Disqus's platform. As a result, all comments from previous platform have disappeared from all articles.
  • CH

    Just came back from Houston. We stayed one more day after the game. Definitely agree with Mr PingPong that “‘Worth the admission ticket!” in the previous comment. It was my first game. Oh.. the crowd was all roaring and screaming when the Rockets scored, that including myself. I stood up, screamed and threw both of fists. My family looked at me like I was crazy and embarrassing them. I guess because Asian ladies seldom show their emotion in public in such a crazy way. It was such a big blow to the Knicks. I was pretty worried that the Knicks would beat them up before the game. Anyway, I was so glad and excited to see the Rockets played so well to lead 28 points against the Knicks. It was fun and I enjoyed every moment of the game!

    Parsons was a beast, both offensively and defensively. He mainly guarded Melo. Even though I don’t like Melo. But you have to admit that he is a real good shooter. When Parsons scored the first 7 shoots in 1st Q, the crowd went wild. Totally agree that “he had the best game of his career.” Hopefully, he will play better and better and will have more “career high” to come.

    Agree that “Lin tried a lot of 3-pointers during pre-game warm up. I’d say he made about 30% of them” with Mr. PP. At that point, my anxiety kicked in, thinking they might lose the game. Surprisingly he was play pretty good and even scored the 1st 2 points of the game. When He was doing the warm up 5 minutes before the 3rd Q,, he tried all 3-pointers and still made about 30%. But at that point, I felt they would win the game.

    Lin was very fast after he got the rebounds. But so many times, no one was there to get his ball, particularly towards to the end of 3rd Q If it was in the Knicks, Landry F. will be there most of the time to get his balls. Even though he “stepped up from his terrible performance”, he missed couple of shots in 3rd Q and then he was a bit hesitate to shoot and passed the ball to someone else even though he could shoot the ball himself. And many times, he passed the ball to Harden and then stood at both corners and waited. That was not typical him being standing at the corner and waited for the ball, that is typical Novak. I guess maybe his shoots are still not steady and that’s the only thing he can do. Hopefully, he will fix his shoots soon and “play up to his capabilities”. But as you said, his shootings should be “something fundamental if he can’t make practice shots”. But as a fan, I will hope for the best.

    • MrPingPong

      A belated welcome to Houston, CH!
      Are you gonna go to the Knicks-Rockets game on Dec.17?

      I like your observation about Lin moving fast after a rebound but no Landry Fields to lob the ball to. And yep, there is still hesitation in his playmaking decision: to shoot or not to shoot. And, as to Lin standing at the corner, he did it more than once during Linsanity 1.0. Remember the Lakers game? Once he regains his confidence and gets his shots back, the opposing teams will have a heck of a time figuring out how to defend him.

      One thing I’ve learned from practicing martial art is to be decisive in all movements. The mind must already be made up before the body moves. It is part of what Japanese martial art calls “sen no sen”. Sen in Chinese is 先, meaning early, first, prior, in advance, etc. It’s “early before early”. It comes from years of dedicated training. Lin still has a lot to learn and he has been saying that all along about himself.

      It is a matter of time before Lin re-establishes himself on the court because he is smart, tenacious and has real talents. He is honest and genuinely humble. I really like this young man, as a person, and not just as a basketball player.

      • CH

        Live in TX and wish we could go to NY on Dec. 17 for the Knicks-Rockets game. Found it is pretty expensive for a family to go for a game. Who knows. Fans will do crazy things. But definitely will go more Rockets home games.

        Totally agree with your points in the last paragraph. But very often we forgot he is basically a rookie, and compare him with veterans in the league. High expectations and irrational comparisons are placed on him unfairly. But so far he has been handling everything exceedingly well on and off court.

      • MrPingPong

        Yeah, it can get expensive to take the whole family to a game. I bid for tickets at the Rockets Flashseats market. More than often, I get lucky and get good seats for cheap (like 50% to 60% off).

  • CH

    Here is an interview with Lin’s trainer. He made several points that match with your insightful analysis earlier.
    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/29047/trainer-lin-not-adjusted-to-new-system

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks for the link, CH. I think the Rockets are still experimenting with Lin at the moment. Still trying to figure out how best to use him without taking too much away from what Harden provides. So that makes it tough on Lin, because he still doesn’t quite know his role so that causes him to hesitate and that could be affecting his rhythm. But hesitation during games is one thing, missing warm up shots, is another thing altogether. I have no idea why he’s missing so many warm up shots. I’m sure Lin is as baffled about it as we are. It’s even more baffling considering that his shooting coach said during the off season that he was so much better as a shooter than last season. So the whole thing is really confusing to me. Hopefully, he’ll figure it out, soon. That’s really the only thing wrong with is game. If he fixes that, then I think he will be more effective as a play maker. Right now, the defense doesn’t have to worry about his shot, so they don’t have to get up on him, making it harder for him to blow past his defender. They also can double-team his teammates, closing out passing lanes and making it tougher on them, so Lin actually ends up hurting the team by being on the floor. Lin doesn’t need to be a great shooter, just an adequate one to keep the defense honest.

  • cary washington

    hey philosopher,

    Harden is playing within the flow of the offense because he is the offense/primary playmaker/ball handler. He determines the pace, who to pass to, breaks down defense. He had 9 ast…uhm, shouldn’t that be for the PG? OH, i forgot, he is the PG and Lin is the SG, spot up shooter. Still frustrated…i’ll get over it because i have to…Lin’s role isn’t changing.

    Even Lin’s trainer thinks that Lin’s role has been minimized to play off the ball and park at the 3pt line.

    • standupphilosopher

      Yeah, Harden gets to play his game, whereas Lin has to play Lin’s game in a way that doesn’t take too much away from Harden. That’s just the reality and that’s just the way it’s going to be, because Harden is the better player. The good thing I’ve seen from Harden lately is that he isn’t trying to force things as much. After his two debut games, Harden had this idea that he could just play hero ball and stepped away from what made him so effective and efficient in OKC. So I think he’s finally getting back to what he does best and not force the issue too much. I think Harden is settling into his role. Lin is still trying to find his role.

      I think the Rockets have released the reigns on Lin ever since the game in Portland. But they’ve tighten it back when they see that Lin is not able to perform up to their standards. So they’ll continue to do this until they find a good balance. It really is up to Lin what role he will get in Houston as his role is still not defined. It’s very difficult for the Rockets to give him play making duties when he can’t shoot the ball. When you can’t shoot the ball at all, it makes it harder on your teammates, because the defense doesn’t have to worry about you. I think it’s a testament to how good Lin is that he’s still able to be somewhat effective and still help the team somewhat when he’s on the court during his shooting slump. He’s always doing all the little things that helps the team. But if he wants to be a play maker, he’s going to need to shoot the ball adequately.

  • Yeah, Harden is more of a PG right now. I hope he realizes that it is for JLin. Nonetheless, so glad they won 🙂

  • MrPingPong

    Thanks for your analysis, Philosopher. It’s hard not to agree with you when you are hedging your bet with if-statements like “If Lin doesn’t improve, then..”. Of course, Lin will improve, and then what? 🙂

    Lin seems to be following my advices: fake right and go left! 😉
    Of the four baskets he made driving to the hoop, two of them he faked right and moved left. One of them he faked right, went left and then using Tyson as a “screen”, moved right again and blew past Tyson for a bank shot.

    I am sure Lin will be wearing a mouth piece from now on to keep the rest of his central incisors. But here is another advice for Lin: start wearing goggles a la Kareem Abdul-Jabar!

    • standupphilosopher

      If Lin improves, then the Rockets are a lock to make the playoffs and my expectations for this team remain as high as they were in the beginning of the season.

      Yeah, I don’t know why many of the players don’t wear mouthpieces. I’m sure it’s uncomfortable, but it can’t be that bad to risk losing your teeth. Lin chipped his teeth going to the ground wrestling the ball away from Melo, so I think it was worth it in his mind. 😉 On a similar note, the box score says Lin only had one steal. I think he was robbed. I saw that he had a lot more than just one steal. Anyway, he was a pat of a bunch of steals, so that’s what coaches will see. Lin was great at huslting in the Knicks game. Got seven rebounds on pure hustle and effort. Coaches love that, as well–especially Sampson and McHale. They’re all about effort and heart.

  • cary washington

    Hey, I hope you guys are voting for Lin for the all star game. I am! I don’t care what the critics think, i want representation and that’s JLIN in the all star game. I’m tired of NBA’s exclusive club, so that’s why I vote for Lin everyday.

    While you’re voting for Lin for the all star game, can you vote for him as most inspiring athlete of 2012? http://on.si.com/10k3Y6M

    • CH

      Will vote for the most inspiring athlete. But won’t vote for the all star game even though he is an all star to me. There is a saying in Chinese, saying “the love we show to him becomes a harm to him”. If he keeps on improving and plays exceptionally well like last Feb. The NBA will place him in the game like last time. But if he doesn’t, he will not only be humiliated but also will become a joke in the League.

      • MrPingPong

        I am thinking along the same line as you are, CH. But, I am afraid we are in the minority. Lin is the most scrutinized athlete in the world, right now. And he did not ask for it. There is enough pressure on him already.

      • standupphilosopher

        I’m with CH and MrPingPong on this. Admittedly, all I know about Lin is what I read, but from what I’ve gathered, Lin is the type of person that would not be happy being on the All Star team if he doesn’t feel like he deserves it. Granted, the starting role in the All Star team comes down’t to more or less a popularity contest where fans get to weigh in, the best players do tend to get the votes for the most part. Right now, Lin is not performing anywhere near all-star level nor is he performing up to his potential. And Lin knows this, so I think it would do more psychological harm than good if he ends up making the All-Star team. He will feel feel so undeserving of the honor and that’s never a good feeling when you get recognized for something you feel like you didn’t deserve.

        Lin is still young. If he stays healthy, Lin will have plenty of chances to make the All-Star team legitimately. It took Steve Nash a long time to be an All Star. I don’t think there’s a hurry for Lin to make the All-Star team.

    • Niv

      Hi All, this is my first time writing in. I really like how this forum is civil and unbiased 🙂

      Just my humble opinion on the ASG, I do agree that if Lin struggles till Feb, I think he should NOT be in the all star game. I do not think it is disastrous as what some fans has described. Although, I will admit that it may be embarrassing for Lin himself since the game is held in Houston.
      The thing is, I agree that Lin would have other chances to be in the All star game next time so I am not too worried about it.
      My main worry is that if he does not play too well till Feb and gets voted in, it creates alot of hatred among fans and those in the league .For the fans, it is nothing more than just voting for our favourite player, BUT for Lin, it creates more hatred for Lin and some players might take it out on Lin physically . We all know that referees may turn a blind eye and at the end of the day , I want Lin to be able to play for as long as he can.
      Unfortunately for many , they think Lin being Chinese is the reason for the hype BUT we all know that is not true but if Lin gets voted in despite his subpar play , it may give people and even the league players the impression that being Chinese has this entitlement BUT we all know that is not true.

      Lin is hated because 1)many knick fans thought he betrayed them 2) melo v Lin 3) too much attention .
      On point 1, when you leave an organisation (for Lin’s case, kicked out unceremoniously) with a huge fan base, there are many who are going to hate on you .
      On point 2, SOME, NOT all of Lin’s fans are abit extreme and disrespectful sometimes.
      On point 3, I admit that as much as I liked Linsanity, it was a little TOO much coverage. I am a huge fan of Lin and it was nice seeing an Asian make it, but it was too much. I was baffled why people didnt really like it and it got me thinking. Sometimes, when a good thing keeps getting reported , talked about all the time, people would eventually get sick of it. That is why people want him to fail. That is why I felt Houston was the better place for him to grow without much scrutiny
      4)of course, there is the the race factor
      5)Houston fans are unhappy with his performance.

      My point is, Lin can never make everyone like him, but I believe that he may get less hate if he produces well on the court consistently especially from those who thought he was just hype. By playing for a less popular team and being in the western conference, IF Lin were to succeed, at least people can see for themselves Lin’s play .

      I just feel that if he continues to play like how he is playing till Feb than voting him in the game will cause more hatred to Lin than he already has, In fact, if this season, Lin is not at linsanity levels, I am fine with it because what is more important is he gets his knee 100% back and improves his game.

      • standupphilosopher

        Thanks so much for the comment, Niv! Yeah, I also like that the discussion is civil here and unbiased (to the extent that us Lin fans can be unbiased). Hope to keep it that way us much as possible and hope to see more of your comments in the future.

        I agree that if Lin continues to struggle and not play up to par, voting him into the All-Star game will cause, dare I say, considerable damage to Lin for the reasons you’ve laid out, as well as for Lin’s own psyche. When Lin joined Houston and became “the face of the franchise” I think it really affected him psychologically and he tried to downplay himself so that his teammates wouldn’t think he has a big head. i talked about this in a post about Lin’s struggles being mostly mental. I think if he gets into the All-Star and doesn’t feel he deserves it, it will also mess with his head and Lin’s got enough head games that he’s dealing with.

      • cary washington

        This is exactly why i’m voting for him, every single day. Asians (i’m not saying all Lin fans are asian but a good number are) have a lot of pride and carry a lot of guilt/shame. If they don’t think that Lin is playing well, they’re not going to vote him in because they’re thinking the same things as the rest of you.

        It bothers me that you guys think Lin’s a shoe in for the ASG, that’s not even half true. Lin is an AMERICAN, his home country is America and here, Lin has a lot of haters that aren’t going to vote for him. He doesn’t have the support of a country the way Yao or any other international superstar would. So no, he’s not a shoe in and he’s probably NOT going to make it into the ASG.

      • standupphilosopher

        I don’t speak for CH or MrPingPong, but the reason why I’m not voting for Lin and hope other Lin fans don’t vote for Lin if he continues to struggle up until the All-Star Game is not because I think he’s a shoe-in for it. It’s because I don’t want him to make the All Star Game if he hasn’t earned it with his on-court performance. I really think it will significantly harm his psyche if he makes it into the All-Star Game without feeling like he deserves to be there. I truly believe that it will set back his game even further. Of course, this is just some pop psychology mumbo jumbo on my part, but that’s the reason why I’m not voting Lin in the All-Star Game, unless he starts playing like an All-Star.

      • cary washington

        @philosopher hey, I don’t want you to think i’m purposely trying to be negative but this Lin/all star fraud narrative has gotten legs and the media is throwing all kinds of s.hit out there about Lin, and that bothers me.

        You know, there are fans that feel the same way you do, a lot more than you think. I know that you’re worried about him but it almost seems like you (and fans who feel the same as you do) are more worried about your feelings and how you’re going to deal with the crazy situation if he gets voted in. Being a fan is an emotional thing. No worries though, you’ll be spared bc he won’t get voted in.

        Sorry, i’ll stop talking about this.

      • standupphilosopher

        cary, I don’t mind talking about this, because it’s an important issue to talk about. So no need to apologize if you have a different opinion on it than I do.

        I haven’t been very good about gathering intelligence on Lin, lately, so I haven’t seen any talk about Lin and the All-Star Game. My opinions on Lin and the All-Star Game all come from my personal belief and opinion. And I don’t know about other Lin fans, but as for me, I don’t want Lin to get voted into the All-Star Game if he isn’t playing at an All-Star level for Lin’s sake alone. It really has nothing to do with how I would feel as a Lin fan. That hasn’t crossed my mind at all to the point where I’d really have to sit down and think about what you said to really grasp what you mean when you say: “you (and fans who feel the same as you do) are more worried about your feelings and how you’re going to deal with the crazy situation if he gets voted in.” Because off the top of my head, I really don’t know what it means to deal with the crazy situation if Lin gets voted in as a Lin fan. Not sure why Lin getting into the All-Star game would impact me as a Lin fan. My only concern is how it would affect Lin’s psyche. That really is all there is to it for me, at least. As a reader of my blog, i think it’s pretty clear that I’ve been pretty concerned about Lin’s psyche–especially since he became a Rockets.

        I don’t know about the reasons why other Lin fans don’t want Lin in the All-Star Game, because I haven’t been reading up on the subject. You might be right on about your perceptions of them. But as for me, the reasons I’ve given are the only reasons why I don’t want Lin in the All-Star Game if he doesn’t perform at an All-Star Level. Perhaps I should make a separate post about this just to be clear.

      • cary washington

        @philosopher, please don’t make a separate post about LIn/ASG because you’re just adding fuel to the fire. You’ll become part of that media/online forum/blog world that is pushing that narrative against Lin, even if you have good intentions.

  • CH

    Agree. ” he did not ask for it. There is enough pressure on him already.” All fans should leave him alone in that regard. He is a classy guy, carrying himself extremely well, in good times and in bad time. An all star to me.

  • CH

    There is no reply link I can click to reply to the above discussion, but to open a new reply. Please advise, Mr Philosopher.

    • standupphilosopher

      I’m not sure which comment you want to reply to, but I’m guessing it’s the latest comment by cary on Lin’s All Star Game. If so, then just hit the last reply button that you see, which appears at the end of Niv’s comment. The way WordPress works is that it only allows the thread to go three replies deep. But if you hit the latest reply button that you see in that comment thread, then it will add your comment to the bottom of that thread, so it will look like you’re replying to the last comment in that thread. Hope that makes sense.