Happy Holidays + Late Reaction to Flawless Victory vs. Grizzlies

I don’t have much time to write and haven’t been in front of my computer much due to Holiday festivities, so apologies for not replying to some of the comments. Hope you’re enjoying the holidays. As of late, the Rockets have looked just as good as I expected them to look right about this time in the season, but I’m sure they’re way ahead of schedule as far as Rockets management is concerned and they’re probably shocking a lot of analysts out there who have understandably underestimated the Rockets from day one.

Rockets had an extraordinary game against the Grizzlies. It may have been their best game of the season. I didn’t pay as close attention to the game and I missed all of the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter. But from what I managed to see, it was pretty much as flawless as I’ve seen the Rockets. They executed well on both sides of the floor and did so for pretty much the entire game. Harden had another amazingly efficient game. 31 points, 9-13 shooting (3 of 3 from 3 point), 10-12 Free Throws, 8 assists, 3 steals, 3 Turnovers. These are video game numbers. These numbers shouldn’t happen in real like. You’re NOT supposed to score 31 points on 13 field goal attempts. To compare, Kobe scored 34 points on 41 field goal attempts against the Golden State Warriors the other night. Harden pulled off these video game stats two games in a row! And for three straights games, Linharden has been what I hoped it could be. Lin scored 15 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 Turnovers, 1 block shot. I really liked how McHale managed the minutes between Harden and Lin in the Grizzlies game. He made a concerted effort to stagger their minutes and also let Lin assume the primary floor general duties. McHale is finally playing Lin the way I’ve been reiterating over and over on how they should be playing Lin. McHale is also starting to show confidence in Lin. Hopefully all of this continues. I don’t see why not as the Rockets have overtaken the Thunder as the number one offense. I remember when the Rockets were at number 4 and I said that the Rockets coaching staff is probably reluctant to change anything on the offensive end and are just concerned about defense. But I said that it was a mistake to not change anything on the offensive and and if they only reverse the roles between Lin and Harden and show more confidence in Lin, their offense can look even better. Now after only a short period of time, the Rockets have moved from fourth to first and I have no doubt that it’s due to the Rockets coaching staff waking up and not continuing to marginalize Lin for inexplicable reasons. They shot 53.7% from the field and and incredible 42.9% from three point against the Grizzlies. I’m very happy to see that things are finally starting to gel offensively for the Rockets and it’s no coincidence that this coincides with Lin finally being allowed to play his game for the most part. Lin is still struggling with his shot (1 of 5 from three point against Grizzlies), but it’s notable that this hasn’t stopped Lin from being a huge contributor on the offensive end, because he has confidence in his game and is being allowed to play his game. It’s all just starting to happen for Lin in Houston, so the Rockets coaching staff need to do everything they can to not mess it up. Have you notice that when Lin plays well, the Rockets win? I’m sure the Rockets organization are well aware of this. The reason is that Lin is a team player and when he does well and plays his game, then that also means that his teammates are getting good looks, because Lin creates almost equally for himself and his teammates. In Houston, Linsanity is more about creating for his teammates than for himself. There were some Linsane moments in the third or fourth quarter when Lin had several almost back to back plays in which he fed Smith off the Pick and Roll. Lin made it look too easy. It looked like a practice drill. Lin didn’t just pull it off one time. He did it in succession. The exact same play. (Delfino also had a back to back carbon copy play in which he drove and fed Asik for a dunk. That was pretty awesome, but not something that we can expect from Delfino. In fact, when Delfino drives, he more often turns the ball over. SIDE NOTE: I’ve noticed that Delfino is one of the players that really doesn’t pass to Lin. I think Delfino sees himself as a bit of a play maker, so he thinks he can make plays himself and doesn’t see any reason to pass to Lin. Just something I’ve noticed throughout the season. Not a big deal, though.) Lin was also awesome on the defensive end, wrestling with Randolph for the ball multiple times.

Asik had another great game. 14 points, 12 rebounds in only 23 minutes. So the Money Boys did it once again! They had a lot of help. Morris was exceptional. He not only was huge on the offensive end, contributing 16 points on a very efficient 6 of 8 shooting (3 of 4 from three point). He also had two blocks and did a superb job of containing Randolph. Randolph had just 10 points on just 5 of 8 shooting! All in all, we had 7 players in double figures. This is what’s been most enjoyable watching the Rockets, lately. They’re playing team ball–the way I had expected them to play. This is why I was so high on the Rockets in the beginning of the season–even in the preseason. I saw a team composed of key players who are all about team ball and they’ve shown that. It has come as a result of the coaches finally letting Lin do what Lin does best, which is to play team ball. Of course, a big factor last night was also great defense.

I won’t have a chance to see the Bulls game tonight. I’m confident that they can pull off a win tonight. At this stage, unless Rockets are up against teams like the Spurs or the Thunder, who the Rockets play really shouldn’t matter. (I mean, they BLEW OUT the best defensive team in the NBA!) As long as Rockets continue to play team ball the way they have been playing since the Knicks game, they should be able to beat most teams in the NBA and the Bulls are one of those teams. Lets just see if they have the mental toughness to maintain their level of play on the road. These next few games will be a huge test for the Rockets. I will still be surprised if the beat the Spurs and the Thunder.

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  • MrPingPong

    Thanks, Philosopher, for your post game analysis.
    I notice the same thing about Delfino: he thinks he is a play maker.

    Anyway, the “Money Boys” ruled and the Rockets blew out the Bulls tonight. I am happy because Lin just beat the J***s out of the Bulls.

    Onto Minnesota!

    • standupphilosopher

      Yeah, Money Boys ruled once again. This is like three straight games that the Money Boys bossed. It’s a great thing to see. Also, good to see Parsons get in on the action. Four starters scored over 20. That’s some incredible team ball in action, right there!

      I actually did have a chance to see the second half of the Bulls game. Rockets were so dominant. They played flawlessly, once again!

  • Wow, I agreed the Rockets had a good chance against the Bulls, but I didn’t expect a total blowout. These games where the points are really spread among a bunch of players are awesome!

    • standupphilosopher

      Yeah, I also didn’t expect a blow out, but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised by it. Right now, with Lin finally playing his game, the Rockets are very difficult to guard, because now they got two great play makers who can score, but can also set their teammates up. So it’s really hard for defenses to figure out who to lock down on. If they trap Harden, they have to deal with Lin and vice versa. Defenses also have to deal with Morris and Parsons on the wing and Asik in the middle. This is why team ball is so dangerous and why the Spurs have been so consistently dominant for so long.

      It’s still early for the Rockets, so they need to continue to just stick to their plan and keep doing what they’re doing so it becomes the DNA of the team, just like it has for a team like the Spurs. Rockets still have a long way to go for this to happen.

  • emz

    Yup! Greatly looking forward to these next few games where it’ll further show how far along the Rockets are. Grizzlies’ game showed that the Rockets can defeat great defenses, Bulls’ game showed that the Rockets can defeat great defenses on the road.

    Timberwolves should tell us whether or not their ‘running’ game is sustainable, and is kinda a ‘must’-beat because Timberwolves are also a bubble team.

    Then the Spurs-OKC back-to-back are just… a special kind of hell. Both are experienced and disciplined, both can run but are also great in the half-court. Rocket’s have a slight edge over the Spurs because of their youth, but it might be negated somewhat because they’re on the road and also fatigued; so to me this is a toss-up. OKC is at home, but at the end of their long roadtrip, and OKC knows Harden, and are ALSO young and fast.

    Not to mention I bet they’re pissed off after losing to the Heat today.

    OKC is the toughest of the bunch, imo, but I really would like the team to get this win for Harden because they kinda tossed the game the first go around. (for good reason, mind you, but still it was a w/e game for most of the team imo)

    • MrPingPong

      I am looking at one game at a time here.

      Pluses for the Wolves: home game, well rested (did not play yesterday).
      Minuses for the Wolves: Love may not be 100% due to eye injury, Rubio is only 50% coming back from ACL injury and may disrupt the Wolves flow, up-and-down season with no real direction.

      Minuses for Rockets: back-to-back road game, may be tired (but Rockets are young and should recover very quickly).
      Pluses for Rockets: winning momentum, Linsanity 2.0 is in full steam.

      Match up: Rockets Money Boys rule, Love > MM but Love is not 100% (and according to rumors not happy with management)
      My call: Rockets will tame the Wolves.

      Happy After Christmas shopping to ALL!
      πŸ™‚

      • standupphilosopher

        Nice breakdown of tonight’s game, MrPingPong. I think Rubio coming back from ACL is going to disrupt flow and is a big disadvantage for the Wolves in tonight’s game. Rockets should win this one, but could be one of those games where they have a let down, since they’ve been playing at such a high level for so many games in a row. I mean, they’ve had four consecutive blow outs against good teams.

      • MrPingPong

        WOW! Close game! I take the (ugly) win any time.
        Rockets were tired.
        Lin did not play well but came up big in the end with a long 2 and a steal.
        Harden was one true kungfu master.
        I am glad McHale let Lin come back in with about 7.5 minutes left and close the game with Harden. He seems to trust Lin now, which is a very good sign.
        Get some rest and onto to the Spurs.

      • standupphilosopher

        I wasn’t surprised that it was a grinder. I felt Rockets were going to have a let down game. Awesome that they managed to pull out a win.

        I kept screaming in the 4th for McHale to put Lin back in. He took way too long to do so. Douglas did well and did his job. Can’t keep Douglas out on the floor for too long. I think Douglas is only good in spurts, generally. It was time for Lin to come back in the game early in the fourth quarter. I felt we wasted a lot of possessions and kept the game closer than it needed to be by having Lin sit for so long early in the fourth when we had some momentum, but the half court offense looked chaotic. I know McHale wanted Douglas out there to defend the smaller Barea, but I didn’t think it was worth sitting Lin out as long as he did in the fourth.

      • emz

        was gassed, apparently their plane only took off 4 AM, which means they got to their hotel for shuteye at around 6am

      • standupphilosopher

        I didn’t know that, emz, about them getting in late. That’s really remarkable that Harden performed the way he did and gutted out the win. Very impressive. In my eyes, Harden is a top 5 player. Harden’s only weakness is his defense. He leaves his man and loses track of his man way too often. Aside from that, he really has no other weaknesses to his game. His level of efficiency is ridiculous and he’s also been very efficient. Most importantly, he’s a big factor in his team winning games.

      • MrPingPong

        No wonder they all looked dazed out there.
        If I were McHale, I would give the team today off so they can catch up on their sleep and not sleep walk into the Spurs game.
        Half of me says just blow off the Spurs game (sit the starters and get fined by Stern) and blow away the Thunders the following night.
        πŸ™‚

      • MrPingPong

        OK, game day for Lin and Co.
        EMZ, do you have any inside information on when the Rockets arrived in SA this time?
        I hope the team got enough rest to gather enough energy for tonight’s game.
        One half of me says to blow it off, but the delusional half of me says let’s go!
        Lin and Co must walk into the arena believing they can win. Yes, the Spurs are experienced and disciplined, etc but that makes them predictable.
        All the Rockets have to do is play Linsane!
        Live by the Lin and Die by the Lin!
        Easier said than done, right?
        My call: Rockets will pull an upset tonight!

      • MrPingPong

        Wow, breathtaking high scoring game!
        May be it’s an over simplification of things but 15-26 FTs did us in.
        OKC next!
        Let’s go Rockets!

    • standupphilosopher

      Nice breakdown of upcoming games, emz. I agree with your outlook! I’m very interested to see how Harden handles his old team. OKC’s gonna be a nail biter, I think. Lin and Asik are both undefeated against their former teams. The first OKC game didn’t count in my eyes, so this upcoming one is the real match up. We’ll see if the new look Rockets give OKC a run for their money.

  • Happy Holidays Mr.Philosopher!:)
    And to the rest of your readers πŸ™‚
    The Rockets are on a winning streak right now πŸ™‚
    I hope it continues just like JLin’s performance πŸ™‚
    By the way, I noticed that there is no post game interview for tonight’s game? Been waiting for it…

    • MrPingPong

      Happy Holidays to you too, Rubielyn!
      Enjoy the Wolves game tonight (or tomorrow, wherever you are on the WEB)!

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks, Rubielyn! Happy Holidays to you, too.

      Yeah, Rockets are on a ridiculous winning streak. They’re not just winning games, they’re blowing good teams out and playing pretty much flawless basketball. I think NBA is starting to take notice. Right now, they’re playing as good as I expected them to play around this time.

      Yeah, I also noticed no post game interviews.

  • CH

    A FRUITFUL NEW YEAR TO EVERYBODY.

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks, CH! A fruitful New Year to you, as well.

    • MrPingPong

      Thanks CH! The Same to You.

  • Thanks @MrPingPong and Happy Holidays too. Yeah I enjoyed the game though JLin looks tired judging from his stats but still that 2pointer to tie the game was BIG.

    @Mr. Philosopher, also for last night’s game..no post game interview πŸ™

    @CH, a fruitful 2013 to you as well and to everyone πŸ™‚