McHale’s Gamble Almost Pays Off, Rockets Almost Steal Game 2

After getting blown out in game 1, McHale decided to try something new and insert Beverley in the lineup, going very small. Analysts thought he was out of his mind, but McHale’s out of the box thinking ended up working out and Beverley provided a lot of energy and ended up with a double-double in his first playoff start (16 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers). Harden also ended up with a double-double (36 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 turnovers, 1 steal). Lin didn’t play in the second half due to a shoulder contusion. No update on Lin so far.

The ball movement was good, tonight. It’s been a while since I’ve seen good ball movement by the Rockets. I can tell that McHale drilled ball movement in during practices, because the players definitely made an effort to get the ball moving from side-to-side. They also made the extra pass to night–especially in the first half. Things got bogged down a bit in the second half without Lin and it got even worse when Beverley had to sit with 4 fouls. Beverly ended up playing 41:13 minutes tonight, but he didn’t seem tired. That kid is full of energy. He reminds me of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh–constantly bouncing around. Also, he was not intimidated by his first playoff start. He just played his game. Harden did a slightly better job of playing within the offense, although, he still continues to settle quick threes. He was 1 for 7 from three tonight, so his shooting struggles continue. Another guy who’s still struggling with his shot is Delfino. He was 3 for 10 from three tonight. I’m still mystified why McHale continues to trust Delfino when he’s got a much more reliable Garcia. Garcia plays a very similar game to Delfino, but he is also taller, which is a definite plus. Garcia only played 6:29 minutes tonight, while Delfino was out there jacking up one missed three after another, wasting valuable possessions. But I can’t complain too much about McHale tonight, because he made the unconventional decision to start Beverley and it almost won the Rockets the game. Now it could also be because the Rockets got over the first game jitters, so they might have just been playing better. But Beverley was definitely a big factor for the Rockets tonight. He was everywhere and made a name for himself in the spotlight.

Even with the valiant effort by the Rockets, I expected a loss tonight. Even when the Rockets were up by 4 points on a three by Delfino with over 3 minutes left in the game, I fully expected OKC to come back and win the game. So I guess because I expected OKC to win, I just shrugged off the loss. It wasn’t a heart breaker to me like it should have been. But I’m sure Rockets fans are heartbroken, because Rockets were so close, then Durant took over and refs missed that foul committed by Perkins (I think) against Parsons, which left a wide open three by Sefolosha, putting OKC up by 4 with a minute left to go in the game.

So, lots of questions for game three. Is Lin going to be back? Is McHale going to go back to the unconventional lineup if Lin is back? Has McHale figured out how to beat OKC? At least with tonight’s game, the Rockets can come back home without their tails tucked between their legs. So that will make for a more fired up crowd.

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  • MrPingPong

    Thank you, Philosopher, for your quick game recap.
    I missed the game tonight.
    Patrick Beverly is one of the Jeremy Lins of this Rockets team, isn’t he?
    I am glad McHale tried something different tonight. There is hope after all. πŸ™‚
    I hope Jeremy Lin is OK. I heard him say over a radio interview that he thought he hit someone during the game but did not remember when. There is so much contact in this non-contact sports!

    Well, I will be at the game this Saturday for sure. I hope to see Lin play. The Rockets will win this game. I am calling it now.

    • Get WELL the soonest Jeremy!!!
      Rockets needs you. We need you.

      Enjoy the game MrPingPong!!
      I really hope and pray that it’s a WIN for the Rox.

      GO JLIN!!!

    • standupphilosopher

      Yep, Beverly is definitely one of the Jeremy Lins. Have fun at the game on Saturday. Hopefully, Lin will be playing. I’m also calling for a win–especially now that Westbrook looks to be out for the series. It’s no cake walk though, because when a guy goes down like that, his teammates rally and often they are even more dangerous. So pretty much a wildcard for Saturday and the rest of the series. We’ll see what happens. Westbrook is a top tier player, but he does have a tendency to hurt the team when he goes into ball-hogging mode. Without Westbrook, Durant is going to be unleashed and that could be scary. Parsons is going to really be tested on the defensive end. Also, OKC is full of talented players who probably won’t have much trouble filing the scoring void left by Westbrook. Still, I expect the Rockets to take advantage and win the game if Lin is back on the court. Without Lin, it’s gonna be tough.

      I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the game and most likely won’t be able to do any post-game reactions.

      • MrPingPong

        I’ll video tape the whole game on my smart phone and post it later for you to see in case you miss the game, Philosopher. Based on the tried-and-true principle of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, I expect the same small ball line up with zone defense as in game 2, unless OKC figures out how to effectively counter this strategy.

        As of this writing, Lin’s status is still up in the air. Though I would love to see him play, I am OK with Lin sitting out this game, if he is not healed. Chest muscle takes longer to heal because it is constantly in use due to breathing. And speaking of injury, I am sorry to learn that Westbrook got hurt. I am sure a superb athlete like him will recover quickly. Poor PB! He is now a marked man!

        Before I head off to Toyota Center, I want to wish everybody a good evening/afternoon watching an exciting game, with or without Lin!

        Let’s go Rockets!
        Let’s go KM!

        πŸ™‚

      • fire9flyer

        Good evening MrPingPong. you miss out ‘good morning’ at my part of the earth πŸ˜‰

        on one hand i want him to play, one the other hand i don’t want him to play so that he can overturn a 0-3 down to meet knicks in final. My dream. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

      • fire9flyer

        overturn 2-0 is not bad too. i will take it πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

      • MrPingPong

        My bad fire9flyer! Next time I’ll make sure to cover all parts of the world!
        Just cam back from the game.
        Such a disappointing loss.
        Lin was clearly not himself even during warmup and shoot around. He was favoring his right chest every time he attempted a shot. He shouldn’t have played at all. But being competitive, he tried but was totally ineffective. I am not sure he can play game 4.
        I will post videos of the game later, after I get some sleep.
        Goodnight, good morning, good afternoon, good evening to y’all, wherever you are on this WEB!
        πŸ™‚

      • fire9flyer

        yeap, my bad. after seeing him wrap up like that, i don’t think he can play game 4. no more dream @_@

  • i know beverly did well and deserves a little beverlynsanity, but it was mostly effort/energy/scrappy type of breakout. Lin did it as the team’s leader and by making smart play after smart play on the Knicks. mchale is getting all sorts of credit for shaking it up and playing small ball, but really the big reason for their improved play is not ALL because of beverly’s gutsy play for 41 minutes, it’s because Harden moved to SF and held the ball less – allowing for more ball movement. the same, if not better, results can happen if Lin was just given full reign and allowed to make 80% of the teams plays – especially down the stretch. the key is to get harden to play more off-the-ball. i still prefer greg smith and asik in the lineup with Lin handling the ball and running pick and rolls and drive-in kick outs to parsons and harden to shoot 3’s or drive the lane. that’s when they are most successful.. all that B.S. about Lin not ready or playing scared is stupid.. he’s TOLD to go to the corner and wait for the 3 point shot which is not his strength.. even if you say he’s not a true PG, he’s not a Ray Allen type SG. If mchale does all of the above, harden will be a lot more efficient and score 30+ on 18-20 shot attempts. His legs won’t be wasted on over-dribbling and protecting the ball against a very pesky defense.

    • standupphilosopher

      I think the biggest reason for their success is that they finally moved the ball. I think McHale really drilled into the players to move the ball. But it still got bogged down in the second half. McHale is going to continue to stress ball movement and I think the players are finally buying in again. In the first game, Harden was the primary floor general from the start of the game, which was unusual and a big mistake. Lin has started out as the primary floor general in EVERY Rockets game, but for some odd reason, they decided to let Harden be floor general for Game 1 and that’s one of the biggest reasons why the ball movement was so terrible in game 1. As long as Rockets move the ball and move their bodies, they’ll have success against any team.

      Yeah, Beverly is a totally different player than Lin. He’s all about energy and effort. Definitely not a leader, like Lin. But I also love his style of play. He really does pick up the energy level for the team and never quits on a play–as witnessed by the national media with the now infamous attempt to steal the ball from Westbrook before a timeout.

  • Hi, Philosopher, you got to give some credit to McHale for this bold move. I’m accurately very impressed with McHale on this. In game 1, Thunder killed Rocket with Ibaka, his shot blocking is a big problem for Jeremy and James. And after trade, Rocket do not have a good stretch 4 to drag Ibaka out side the paint. Smith don’t have shot range that could do that. D-Mo could pretend to be a shooter, but he is not there yet. By going small, and with Parsons, James Harden all out there, Ibaka have to go out, and Perkin is not a good P&R defender, that opens up a lot of Rocket’s offense. In addition to this, for McHale’s read and response system, the best is to have all the wing player capable of create, drive and shoot 3, that have the most dynamic offense. So with all 3 guards there, they have better execution. Though with both a PG and Harden on the court together with Jeremy, it further marginalized him, I did worried a bit there before the game when I see the line up. But that was the best for the team.

    I know McHale don’t have the reputation of an X and O coach, but sometimes they do show some impressive planning. This game is one, and I was also impressed with the Utah 45 pt winning game too. Not sure whether that should credit to his team or McHale himeself, but given enough thinking time, they do come up with some surprising plan though.

    • standupphilosopher

      Yep, McHale gets a lot of credit for this one. But I think the bigger factor for success was that McHale really drilled in ball movement and the guys (i.e., Harden) is finally buying in again. Towards the end of the season, it seemed like the Rockets totally forgot what made them successful and it was due largely to Harden wanting to be the hero more and more as the playoffs approach. But it looks like McHale has gotten the guys to play Rockets basketball again.

      I think if Lin plays, McHale is definitely going to go with the same lineup. We’ll see if it works again. I also wouldn’t mind seeing TJones on the court. He has been doing well, but not getting any minutes in the playoffs.

      If Rockets continue to move the ball like they did in the first half of Game 2, Rockets should take Game 3. They missed a bunch of wide open threes in Game 2, which they should make in Game 3, because they tend to shoot better at home. Rockets crowd better be loud and proud. They’ve waited a long time for this, they gotta represent!

  • fire9flyer

    overturn 0-2 is not bad too. i wil take it. :D:D

  • I can’t believe Harden costed the whole game for us…..he let Lin and the team down with that bad turnover and not giving a timeout after Durant’s three…..

  • MrPingPong

    OK, here are a couple of video links for y’all.
    I was so pumped at the game, but then got deflated by the heartbreaking ending.
    Anyway, here is the pregame warm up and players intro…

    http://youtu.be/54mgtuUFNYM

    And here is the first part of the first quarter. For a fleeting moment I thought Lin was OK when he made his first shot. But then Lin started missing. Reality set in… πŸ™

    http://youtu.be/VhoecWsiz0A

    More to come later, in case you are interested…

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks for the videos, MrPingPong, as always. Hope you enjoy tonight’s game. I’m expecting a win, so hope the Rockets deliver and give you and your son something to cheer for!

  • MrPingPong

    Hello everybody! Here are the rest of the videos I taped from game 3.

    First quarter, part 2:

    Second quarter, part 1:

    http://youtu.be/4sfPBcwb1So

    Second quarter, part 2:

    http://youtu.be/iEVo-XiCQsY

    Third quarter, part 1:

    http://youtu.be/nb6lOkVEX9E

    Third quarter, part 2:

    http://youtu.be/iIYiRWQmFi0

    Fourth quarter, part 1:

    http://youtu.be/8Ifze-gK_4A

    Fourth quarter, part 2:

    http://youtu.be/EkSDuf3XKO8

    I’ll be at the game tonight.
    I doubt it that Lin will play. And he should not play in my (uninformed) opinion.
    It is gonna be tough for the Rockets without a healthy Lin in the line up.
    The rest of the Jeremy Lins on the team must show and play!
    Let’s go Red Nation!