Rockets Put Away Bucks in Second Half — Good Mental Win for Rockets

The Rockets looked very sluggish in the first half of this game–it was the most sluggish they’ve looked in a while, I thought. I was concerned about this game and was pretty sure the Rockets would lose the game by halftime, but the fan in me was hoping that they’d talk things over and come out running in the second half. I missed the first half of the third quarter, so not sure how they managed to cut the Bucks lead to 3. It looks like they had some help from the Bucks who couldn’t hit a basket and kept turning the ball over–at least that’s what the announcers were saying.

Lin had one of his worst games in a while. I didn’t see what he did in the third quarter when he got hurt. I only saw him again in the fourth quarter with the five stitches. Lin did manage to turn things up in the fourth quarter. I thought he got robbed when he was called for a foul jumping for a lose ball against Udoh (I think it was) in the fourth. I don’t see how he could have possibly fouled Udoh (he had his back to Udoh). It looked like he just out jumped Udoh and knocked away a loose ball. But I think the refs just didn’t believe that Lin could out jump Udoh, so they just called a foul. They didn’t replay the foul, so I can’t really say for sure that Lin didn’t foul Udoh. Anyway, not a big deal, since that didn’t end up being a factor in the game. I gotta give McHale props again for sticking with Lin and putting Lin on the court to finish the game in the fourth quarter. Douglas did well, so I thought McHale might end up benching Lin in the fourth. I wouldn’t have blamed McHale for benching Lin tonight. But he didn’t and it paid off. Lin played aggressively in the fourth quarter and racked up a lot of assists. Lin is still passing out a little too much when he gets in the lane. He should learn to draw fouls like Harden. The key is to keep the ball high and dare the defender to knock the ball out of your hands. This is what Harden does and the defender often ends up hitting his arm when they try and swat the ball. The refs see it and they call a foul. Refs look for these things, so it’s an easy call for them to make. Lin’s problem is that he often brings the ball down to adjust to the defender’s hand position. As a result, he forces up a wild shot or he has no shot, because the ball is in too awkward of a position (down by his waist) to put up a shot. So Lin just passes it out to a shooter. It’s fine if he does this a fair number of times, but he does it a little too much–especially in tonight’s game.

Tonight’s win was a good mental win for the Rockets. They were able to finish strong on the road after a very sluggish start against a dangerous team. It was a good test for this young squad and they passed. They had some help from the Bucks, who played terribly in the second half. After the first half, I thought it was going to be one of those games that the Rockets were just going to let themselves get rolled over. We couldn’t get anything going in the first half. I think our stagnant ball movement had a lot to do with Lin not playing aggressively in the first half. A lot of our guys also couldn’t hit shots. So for them to turn it around so completely in the second half on the road is a good mental win. In the second half, they looked like the team that they’ve been since the Knicks game. I couldn’t recognize them in the first half. It was painful to watch.

Rockets have a bunch of road games in January with very little practice time, so I’m hoping they’re at a stage now where they have a clear sense of their identity and can continue to play their game without constant reminding from the coaching staff. In the first half of tonight’s game, it looked like they forgot who they were. There was no ball movement and no player movement. So I’m very happy that they needed only a locker room halftime session to turn things around in dramatic fashion.

A big night for Delfino. He got some revenge on his team. So, so far every Rockets player has had revenge on their former team, except Harden (and Aldrich/Cook). I was anticipating that Delfino would have a big night tonight and he delivered. He finished with 22 point, including a drive in dunk. He was nearly perfect from three point (6 – 7) and shot 8 of 11 from the field. Harden was magnificent, once again. He’s been performing at such a high level for like 10+ consecutive games. Harden and Lin both had four steals, each. Douglas also had a great game, including 6 quick  and easy fast break lay ins to finish with 18 points. Also, it’s so great to see 2Pat back in form. He’s had two great consecutive games off the bench and is showing that he deserves his starting job back. At the beginning of the game, I thought McHale should have started 2Pat over Morris, because I thought 2Pat would have matched up better with the guy the Bucks decided to start, which was Udoh, I believe. I wanted McHale to quickly switch Morris out for 2Pat after Morris committed an early foul, but he didn’t. Who knows, we may even have played better in the first half if 2Pat was starting. We’ll see what happens going forward. I don’t think the coaching staff themselves know who they want for the starting job. Maybe they’ll keep things fluid and decide on who to start, depending on the match up or maybe on who has the hot hand. Right now, with Delfino, 2Pat, Smith, and Douglas, we have a pretty solid second unit. We even got to see the new guy Anderson tonight. I don’t know much about this guy, but if he is a solid perimeter shooter, then he’ll fit in just fine with our club. I’m hoping he can give Harden some rest. We’ll see. It’s unfortunate that we won’t have too many practices coming up to get Anderson up to speed. As a result, I’m not sure how much of him we’ll see. Hopefully, we take care of business against the Cavs early tomorrow and Anderson can get some burn to see what he can do. Tonight, I saw him forcing up a shot that he shouldn’t have taken in garbage time. By the way, the Rockets did horribly in garbage time tonight.

The Boy with the Dragon Tattoo:

Lin Dragon Tatoo

Harden joins in on Lin and Parson’s pregame “handshake”:

About JLintel

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  • CH
    • standupphilosopher

      I like that graphic of the “dragon tattoo”. Looks even more like a dragon. Someone is probably going to make a T-Shirt out of it.

  • Ashley

    Wow! Lin has bounced back from that bloody Bucks game. One day you were worried about his shooting, and the next day–today in the Cavs game–he hit 3 pointers out of five. I guess yesterday, I just let his inconsistency get to me so easily–again. Just hope he’ll be more and more stable in bringing out such good, solid performances. As someone has commented, onsistency makes a difference between good and great. Lin once was capable of consistant brilliant performances last season, but this season he hasn’t shown that yet. I seem to recall that after the 38 point Spurs game, he dropped to 5 points, and most recently, after three or four good games, he went back to scoring single digits. I’m glad he can always bounce back, but I hope this won’t be the only thing I can be sure of, and that we as fans could go through fewer and fewer depressing moments as he gets better and better this season in every way he can.

    • MrPingPong

      I am with you, Ashley. It is nerve racking watching Lin being consistently inconsistent. I must say I am getting used to it though. No matter how the game is going, I believe Lin will find a way to crank it up when push comes to shove.

      BTW, a fan at thedreamshake was at the Cavs game and said that Lin was consistently hitting 3-pointers during pre-game:

      http://www.thedreamshake.com/2013/1/5/3841056/final-rockets-survive-inconsistent-night-to-defeat-cavaliers-112-104#136364407

      • standupphilosopher

        Good to know Lin is hitting his warm up shots. No wonder he shot well during the game. Once Lin can get his shooting to where it’s average, Lin is capable of scoring 15+ a night easily and will have many 20+ point games. It’s just his shot that is holding his scoring back right now. Of course, there are other things that Lin can develop to be an even more effective scorer, such as short jumpers, being better at drawing fouls, and other more advanced moves like the step back jumper.

        I think a lot of fans forget, me included, that Lin is still essentially a rookie. For example, until this season, LIn didn’t go against teams like OKC and he has yet to go up against Chris Paul. I think Lin is over the psychological hump and his inconsistency will diminish. Right now, his inconsistency has mostly to do with him being a rookie, rather than all of those other issues that plagued him before the Knicks game. And now it seems as if McHale has also come around and has more and more confidence in Lin.

        What I’ve seen from Lin that I really like recently is that his on-ball defense is very good. I would say that he’s one of the better of not one of the best Point Guard defenders, because he’s also a great help defender. In fact, Lin often helps out a little too much and sacrifices his defense on his man.

        Most recently, Lin shut down a hot Vazquez and even Westbrook. These guys only managed to get pump up their stats when Lin was off the court. They immediately took it to Douglas and that’s how they could get in a rhythm and ended up doing well later in the game. Even in the Cavs game, McHale complimented Lin on his defense of Irving, even though Irving had 30 points (he did have 8 turnovers). Lin has really become a formidable on-ball defender and getting much better at fighting through screens. Check out this defense from Lin in the Cavs game at 6:40 in this video:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AgpXajLgqg

        Also, at 8:13 in this video, I really like how the Rockets move without the ball. As long as they keep playing like this, they will continue to do well. Rockets have two players in Lin and Harden who are elite at finding their teammates, so all they have to do is move without the ball to get open and Linharden will find them (Lin more so than Harden, since Harden is more looking to score, as he should).

  • GiaKiem

    I’m just happy about the fact that coach MCHale let him play without pulling him out after every mistake he make. The rest Lin is smart enough to learn from his mistake , and practice makes perfect . This month they’ll be on the road a lot so he won’t have much time to practice. We, and himself, just need to be patient. Thanks guys for the reviews! Much appreciated!

  • MrPingPong

    Lin will play against Nash tomorrow. Nash, though a superstar, is too old to be able to keep up with Lin, in my opinion.
    I found a couple of videos showing glimpses of Lin vs Nash during Lin’s rookie season as a GSW.

    http://youtu.be/K0ptYWvnODM

    http://youtu.be/UeGIGVKOs68

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks for the links, MrPingPong. Yeah, Nash has never been known for his defense. So Lin should be able to play aggressively against Nash–especially since Lakers won’t have their Bigs. If Lin doesn’t take it to the hoop on most possessions and play ultra aggressively against the Lakers tomorrow, I would be disappointed.

      I was considering live-blogging the game, but since Lakers will be missing all their Bigs, it might not be worth live-blogging the game. Just hope Kobe doesn’t go off for like 50 or something tomorrow, because he knows they’re short-handed.

    • Ashley

      It’s good to see Lin playing as a GSW. Thanks, Mr. PingPong, my curiousity was aroused and satisfied. It seems to me that Lin had the same skills as he has now and played the same hard defence. A major difference is he wasn’t as muscular then. (So he probably is stronger now.) Basically, it’s pretty much the same Lin with the same playing style, since it really wasn’t too long ago. But then, the year 2012 brought a huge chage to his life and career, and we all got to know him–as a great player and a decent young man. Hopefully the new year will be just as fruitful and rewarding for Lin and his fans!

  • Yes I believe that JLin is a good if not great defender.
    He is also quite a rebounder for a PG.
    An all around player and very hard working one.
    I also noticed that if he doesn’t quite agree with the calls of the referees he will go approach them and talk it out.
    He really has great basketball IQ as well.

    • standupphilosopher

      It still baffles me why Lin doesn’t get the calls. He seems like the type of guy that the refs would like to give calls for. He’s a big star and he’s very likable. He rarely argues calls and has never been abrasive towards the refs. But it seems like refs go out of their way to not make calls for Lin. It seems as if Lin has to really get hit hard for them to even think about blowing the whistle. This is really baffling to me. Hopefully this will change, because Lin can’t keep getting hit like the way he does without getting calls.