I didn’t see the Dallas game, but from looking through forums like Dreamshake, it sounds like fans overwhelmingly disagreed with McHale’s decision to bench Lin. So looks like, unlike in the Orlando game, McHale made a mistake in benching Lin in the last game. I’m pretty sure Morey and Les weren’t happy with McHale’s decision either. Hopefully, learns from it.
Lin started off slow in tonight’s game. It’s probably the worst he’s played in a while, in terms of being too passive. I’ve been very happy with Lin’s play as of late, but in tonight’s game, he played passively in the first half. The thing that I’ve noticed about Lin, lately, is that he’s had a lot of really strong starts. He’s been playing better in the first half than in the second. Well, partly it’s because he’s been absent in the fourth quarter in the past three games. But he has been uncharacteristically strong at the beginning of games and then he slows down in the third quarter. Tonight, he started weak and turned things up in the third quarter. I have a feeling Lin’s ankle or something is bothering him, because Lin looked slow and he looked like he was recovering from an injury or something. He fell down a lot and didn’t have enough lift. That’s concerning. Hope he’s not injured or something.
Rockets have now taken three games from the Warriors. It was a huge game tonight and Rockets pulled it out. Rockets had a horrible second quarter (late in the first and into the second quarter)–one of the worst they’ve played in a while. There was no ball movement. Things did not look good in the second quarter and it looked like the Warriors wanted the game more and would be able to get the home win. But Rockets pulled it together in the second half with a spark from Lin in the beginning of the third quarter. He was scoring and making plays and put the Rockets ahead by 6 points. I missed a lot of the third quarter after that, so not sure what happened, but Warriors came back to take the lead. Then it stayed a tight game after that with both teams picking up the intensity. Of course, tonight, McHale didn’t dare bench Lin, so Lin got to play in the fourth quarter.
Parsons, once again, had a hot shooting game. He’s been on the last five or so games. I think he’s scored 20+ points 5 or so games in a row. He was a huge factor in keeping us in the game. Once again, McHale relies too much on Delfino. I actually like Garcia’s game more than Delfino and was happy to see Garcia in the game in the fourth quarter. But then McHale took Garcia out and replaced him with Delfino, which I thought was a mistake. Garcia is very aggressive defensively and he goes after loose balls. He also has range. I think he provides more than Delfino and he doesn’t have a bum elbow. Garcia is a guy I’d like to see play more and Anderson, too, of course. But with Garcia, Anderson has no hope of getting minutes. McHale really needs to reduce Delfino’s minutes drastically. We have too many players on the bench to deserve more minutes. Every time Garcia is in there, he works his tail off. And when Garcia is on the bench, he’s constantly standing up and cheering or coaching. I’m not sure what he’s doing, but he’s always so vocal on the bench. I think he’s a better veteran presence than Delfino. But McHale has some sort of blind love affair with Delfino, in which Delfino can do no wrong. It’s probably because Delfino was essentially the only veteran, but now that McHale has Garcia, I’m hoping he gains a more realistic perspective on Delfino’s game.
Harden has been off the mark ever since his ridiculous OKC performance. Looks like his knee is really bothering him. Doesn’t have the same explosiveness and he’s not finishing like he used to. In fact, the entire Rockets team missed a bunch of baskets at the rim tonight. It’s not the only time they’ve done that. Rockets will have games where they’ll do that in bunches. Tonight was one of those nights.
Tonight’s game was vital for playoff standings. I think Warriors needed this game more than the Rockets, because now the Rockets own the tie-breaker. Rockets showed a lot of grit by not folding after their horrible second quarter performance on the road. They kept hanging in there and did whatever they needed to pull out a win. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but a win’s a win. Our guys look banged up, though. So that’s a concern. Lin and Harden look like they’re playing hurt. Good thing they have an “easy” opponent tomorrow. But I have a feeling it won’t be an easy win. Phoenix have a lot of former Rockets who will be gearing up to get some revenge on their old team. Still, I expect a win. Would be psychologically damaging if we lost tomorrow after this big win. It would be like giving up this big win. Rockets still haven’t figured out their rotations, as to be expected. So that’s going to be an ongoing concern. Good thing they have a favorable schedule pretty much the rest of the way to the post-season, which includes a long home stretch, where they’ll have lots of much-needed practice time. I’ll be looking to see if McHale starts favoring Garcia over Delfino. I really hope so, because I really like what I’ve seen from Garcia’s limited minutes.