Rockets had surprising trade news, so they were playing very short-handed without 2Pat or Morris. I won’t go into the trade deal, because I’m sure you’re all aware of the news. I think in the short-term, we’ll miss 2Pat, but hopefully, D-Mo and Jones can develop into something good. And we also got Sacramento’s 5th pick Thomas Robinson, who also has great potential at the Power Forward spot. But I think 2Pat has been playing well, lately, and we’ll miss both Morris’s and 2Pat’s ability to spread the floor at the Power Forward position. What I do like about the move is getting rid of Aldrich and I also don’t mind getting rid of Douglas, since he’s a player that I really don’t know what to do with. He’s a shooting guard, but he’s too short to be a shooting guard. Now that they’ve moved Douglas, it secures Beverly’s role as Lin’s primary backup, which is the right move. I really feel bad for Douglas, though, because he’s a great guy and keeps getting moved around. But there are lots of guys like that in the NBA. Journeymen. I saw a brief interview of him during the game and he looked totally depressed. I think he really felt that he finally found a coach who likes his game and felt a sense of security in Houston. At the end of the day, though, the NBA is a business and moving players around (often against their will) is just part of it. I’m sure it’s sad for the players who are leaving, as well as those who are still in the team, because they’ve created bonds fighting together through the season. I felt like 2Pat and Morris developed a strong bond with Harden, so that’s gonna be tough on those guys. It’s also going to be tough on McHale, who has to now incorporate new pieces into his game plan and get new players up to speed. I think in the short-term, the Rockets are back to having some growing pains, again. So I’m less optimistic about them getting the 5th or 6th spot with this move. We’ll see. It all depends on how quickly Robinson can fit into his new role and McHale’s ability to adjust his game plan to fit Robinson in the starting lineup. I suspect that Robinson is thrilled to be playing with two great play makers who will certainly make him look good. I don’t know much about Robinson, but I assume that he’s a better screener and PnR player than 2Pat and Morris. If that’s the case, then maybe the adjustment won’t take anytime and Robinson can fit right in and can actually complement Linharden much better than 2Pat and Morris. Lin has been sorely lacking a player to throw ally-oops to in Houston. Remember how many ally-oops Lin had during Linsanity? It was lob city every night!
Anyway, playing short-handed, the Rockets were even more of an underdog against a hungry Thunder team, but they somehow willed out a win against highly biased officiating. I had predicted the Rockets would win this game in the previous post, because in the first two meetings, the Rockets came off of back-to-back games and were playing very tired. They also didn’t have Parsons for the first of those meetings. So Rockets have only faced the Thunder in situations that are very far from ideal. And then tonight, there was that surprise trade that left the Rockets short-handed. So, once again, it wasn’t ideal. Despite difficult circumstances, Harden finally got revenge on his old team. And he did it having a career night. I’m sure that felt damn good.
The Rockets started off very strong, shooting 8 of 10 from three point or something like that. But they cooled off significantly after the first quarter. Rockets started out how I expected them to, so I was feeling pretty good about my prediction. But then they cooled off significantly after the first quarter. However, this game stayed pretty close throughout, up until early in the fourth quarter when the Thunder had their biggest lead of the game (14 points) with a little over seven minutes to go in the game. That’s when Harden, Lin and the Rockets took over and went on a huge run out of nowhere to will a win when it looked like the game was out of reach. It’s notable that the Rockets run came right when Lin checked back into the game with a little over 6:29 to go with the Thunder up by 10 points.
McHale didn’t do such a good job of managing minutes tonight, but I guess we can’t blame him too much, since his line up got messed up with the trades. So I think he was scrambling a little to figure things out on the fly tonight. Harden played 44:14 minutes, Delfino played 42:26 minutes and Lin played 41:51 minutes. He didn’t rest Lin enough in the first half and then rested him too much in the fourth quarter. I waiting for him to bring Lin back in in the fourth quarter, because Lin was feeling this game. McHale should have had Lin on the court earlier in the fourth quarter. If Rockets had lost this game, that’s one of the things I would have blamed it on. Another thing I would have blamed it on is McHale’s blind trust in Delfino. Delfino’s been struggling in a gigantic way ever since he hurt his elbow. McHale needs to take a wait-and-see approach on Delfino. He’s taking away minutes from Anderson, who I think is a better player at the moment, because Anderson can also defend. But I guess McHale was having Delfino play the Power Forward position tonight, which is absurd. Why not let D-Mo play that position tonight. But, of course, McHale is not going to trust D-Mo to start. Oh well. What can you do? Delfino did rack up 4 steals tonight and chipped in 5 assists. So I guess he did do some things, but he also missed horribly, shooting 3 of 12 from the field (3 of 10 from three point). It just bothers me that McHale has blind trust in Delfino,because Delfino is a veteran. Anyway, lets not dwell on this tonight. Tonight, we celebrate a great win.
Linharden, against odds and some turmoil willed a win against the best team in the NBA (regardless of who has the best record, OKC is the best team in the NBA). Linharden had 75 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds. Harden finally got revenge on his former team in a big way with a career night. Despite what he says, Harden wanted this win badly and he finally got it. Harden put up video game stats tonight. He was unbelievable. It looks like his ankle is fine. He scored a career high 46 points on an unbelievable 14 of 19 from the field (including a career high 7 of 8 three-pointers) and 11 of 12 from the free throw line. He also did this (beat the third quarter buzzer from half-court like he was spotting up for a regular jump shot):
It’s incredible how Harden can score 46 points on 19 field goal attempts. The reason is that he got 12 free throw attempts. This is how Harden is able to be so efficient with his scoring. It takes guys like Kobe and Melo like twice as many attempts to score that many points. He also chipped 6 assists and 8 boards. Lin had a great shooting night. He scored 29 points on 12 of 22 shooting (3 of 5 from three-point) and 2 of 3 from the free throw line. Lin also had 8 assists and 6 boards, as well as 2 steals. Lin played Westbrook to a tie tonight. Parsons also had great night before he went out with a turned ankle. It was good to see Parsons come back into the game, but after the turned ankle, Parsons didn’t do too much. This was fine, because in the fourth quarter, it was the Linharden show. Harden scored 16 in the fourth and Lin had a couple of key three-pointers and short jumpers that helped Rockets take control of the game and solidify the win down the stretch. When Lin wasn’t on the court early in the fourth quarter, the Rockets, once again, looked lost. Beverly had a good debut, but hasn’t shown much, lately. I’m not sure what’s going on there. He did have a couple of great hustle steals in the fourth quarter, though. D-Mo got his pocket picked and then took a bad shot after Lin dished him a great no look pass and that was the last we saw of D-Mo. Anderson, also only played 5:36 minutes. I would have rather had Anderson or D-Mo out there than Delfino. But I guess it doesn’t matter, because we won the game. Still, it’s inexplicable why Delfino played over 40 minutes when it’s clear that his elbow has been hurting his game in a big way. But lets not end this post on a negative note. The Rockets get a huge win on a great night for Linharden. What a way to start the second “half’ of the season. Lets keep it going. Hope the team turmoil won’t affect things too much, but I’m worried that it will hurt us for the remainder of this season. This trade does make us a better team in the future, though. I don’t know much about Robinson, but I hope he is a Power Forward who can set screens and play PnR. If he is, then it might just be an upgrade and we might be better off. We’ll see.
Jeremy Lin had “the look” after this key three pointer (Lin actually called for the ball at the beginning of this play, but Harden didn’t give it up. Good thing Delfino, of all people, gave Lin the ball and Lin didn’t hesitate to put up the shot. He was feeling it.):