Parsons Prevents Harden from Helping OKC Sweep Rockets, Rockets Still Alive

I predicted that the Rockets would take care of business tonight. When I made my prediction, I didn’t factor in how detrimental Harden would be to the Rockets tonight. If it weren’t for Harden’s numerous turnovers, Rockets would have taken care of business. In the last few regular season games, Harden has been toying with a double-double in turnovers. Well, tonight, he finally got this double double with 10 turnovers and 15 points. I think the record for turnovers in the playoffs is 11. Harden ended with just one shy of a record no one wants.

So, because of Harden’s awful performance, the game, once again, went down to the wire and, as usual, Harden messed things up again down the stretch. But this time, Rockets defense prevailed and Parsons and the rest of the Rockets prevented Harden from helping OKC sweep the Rockets. I think Harden’s bruised leg or whatever must be bothering him, but that doesn’t explain some of his reckless turnovers. Hope he gets some rest and is back in form in Game 5. McHale still hasn’t figured out that iso Harden is going to kill them down the stretch. I was actually happy when Harden had 5 fouls and stayed out of the game tonight. I thought he was a liability more than a help tonight.

With the exception of Harden, every Rockets stepped up, exactly how I expected, which is why I predicted that they’d take care of business. But Harden, being a major part of the team was the factor that dragged the entire team down and caused this game to be a lot closer than it should have been. That being said, OKC played pretty well. They had their guys step up, like Martin and Fisher. I actually did expect Martin to play well tonight, but Fisher was the x-factor as Fisher usually is in big games. I thought Rockets would contain Durant tonight, but that didn’t happen. Durant played a very efficient game and ended with 38 points on 12 of 16 shooting. This guy is pretty good.

The big hero for the Rockets was Parsons. That’s another guy that is under-utilized because of too much reliance on Harden. Parsons is a guy that has stepped up in big games all season long. He ended with 27 points and had more field goal attempts than Harden. I think that’s a first. Parsons was 11 for 21 from the floor (3 of 6 from three point). But he did more than just score. Parsons had 10 rebounds and 8 assists. Played a complete game with lots of energy and aggression. He’s been doing better with each game during this playoff series. Hope he can stay close to the level he played tonight. Delfino showed up tonight with a couple of nice steals and had an efficient shooting game. Every single Rockets showed up tonight, but Harden (and Smith was pretty quiet, as well, but he didn’t play much). Aaron Brooks got the most minutes he had all season and the crowd went wild, as expected, when he hit a three. I thought McHale’s rotation was excellent tonight–especially since he had to juggle so many Rockets players in foul trouble. Come to think of it, his rotation was probably good, BECAUSE he had to juggle players in foul trouble. He couldn’t just play a couple of guys to the ground and ignore the entire team. It’s no coincidence that McHale actually does a better job of coaching when he’s FORCED to not rely on only a few players because of injuries and such. So the fact that I thought he did a good job with his rotations tonight, because he had so many players in foul trouble is probably not a sustainable model going forward.

Tonight, because McHale had no choice, he rotated players exactly the way I wanted him to rotate players. Part of me thinks that if Harden didn’t get into foul trouble, Rockets may actually end up losing this game, because McHale would have played Harden to death even though Harden was clearly playing hurt.

Beverley had a quiet, but solid game, which is unusual, because when Beverley has a nice game, it’s usually not very quiet. But I thought he did a good job of being in control tonight and did the things that were needed of him, like driving aggressively to the paint to make plays. He also hit a couple of threes. Overall, a solid showing. Only 3 assists, but assists is not really Beverley’s game, anyway. That’s more of Lin’s thing. Asik had his best game in a while and ended up being the second leading scorer (with 17) for the Rockets. I’m not sure if that’s ever happened. Maybe once or twice this season. He also had 14 boards, 8 of which were offensive rebounds.

Now, the stage is set for Linsanity. Lin just needs to watch his movie that debut at Sundance, while he’s recovering from his Chest injury. Needs to get his confidence back, before he steps on the court. I’m not sure if he’ll be recovered by Wednesday, though. We’ll see. Without Lin, I don’t think Rockets have a chance of winning Game 5. Harden needs to get back to being a superstar and play within the flow of the game, rather than trying to take games over. He’s been struggling with his shot for the past couple months. It’s been getting worse and worse, yet, Harden still plays like his shot is still good. I hope he gets his shot back, at least for one night in Game 5 and redeem his awful performance tonight. He almost lost the game for the team and he knows it. A fierce competitor like him should step up in the next game. Hope that’s enough time for him to take care of his bruise.

About JLintel

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  • fire9flyer

    i like harden, but i really want to pull out his beard one handful for each iso. sorry dude.:'(

  • MrPingPong

    You called it, Philosopher!
    Crazy finish!
    I was so pumped I forgot to press the record button on my smart phone to video the Thunder’s last possession and failure to score!
    Anyway, I just bought two “pre-sale” tickets for game 6.
    Lin needs to sit out one more game in order to heal well enough to play game 6!
    πŸ™‚
    Let’s go Red Nation.

  • asdf

    great analysis as always! i actually laughed out loud at “Come to think of it, his rotation was probably good, BECAUSE he had to juggle players in foul trouble.” so true.

  • BC

    I want to see Lin in game 5 so badly but I’m skeptical he will be ready… He couldn’t even shoot with his right hand in practice today.

    • MrPingPong

      I’d like to see Lin play too, but it’s best that Lin sits out again in game 5. I think he re-injured his chest muscle in game 3 with all the bumping and body blows. Of course, I do not know the extent of Lin’s injury, but what I’ve seen – how Lin got injured in the first place and how he played afterwards – seems to indicate that it’s rather serious.

      If I have my way, I would sit Lin in games 5 and 6 and hope that will give Lin enough time to recover from the chest injury. Game 7 that is! πŸ™‚

      Give your body time to heal, Lin! Do not rush back! There is a lifetime of basketball (and playoffs) ahead of you. Everything takes time. Be patient!

      • standupphilosopher

        Yeah, I’d like to see Lin play, too. If I were Lin, knowing Game 5 could be the last game of the season, I would try my hardest to get on the court if I think I can help the team and give it my all. And I’m sure that’s what Lin is going to do. You have all summer to recuperate. I would be different if it’s a regular season game. But this is do or die time. So I’d just be thinking about that and not about anything else in the future. No need to be 100% at this stage. Just be good enough to help the team. But the problem is, I don’t think McHale has much trust in Lin after Game 3. So I doubt McHale will let Lin play in Game 5. I think McHale is quite happy with his lineup at the moment and probably doesn’t feel like they need Lin to win. So I’d be pretty surprised to see Lin play in Game 5. Sucks that he’ll miss it, since it could be the last game of the season.

        I think Rockets still have a chance without Lin, as long as guys like Sefolosha and Ibaka don’t get involved. What was great about Games 4 and 5 is their over-reliance on Durant. I think it’s a big mistake that OKC is making. It’s a panic move. If they just calm down, they should just keep doing what they’re doing, because they can definitely beat the Rockets with the lineup they have–especially with Lin out. They’re just scrambling and over compensating from the loss of Westbrook. As a result, guys that could kill us, like Sefolosha and Ibaka aren’t involved and OKC has become a one-man team. I’m just hoping that they don’t figure this out in the remaining games, but I think they will figure it out and that’s why I don’t think Rockets will win Game 5. They started to figure it out more in Game 4 by having Durant play off the ball, like he normally does.

        In Game 5, I’ll be watching to see if OKC has figured it out. What I’m worried about in Game 5 are guys like Sefolosha, Ibaka, Martin, and Fisher getting involved (Jackson has actually been having pretty solid performances as Westbrook’s replacement). I think Sefolosha is going to have a big game in Game 5 and Martin will continue to score the way he does. So I expect OKC to take care of business if they get out of panic mode and go back to involving all their players and not overcompensate for the loss of Westbrook. If OKC continues to overcompensate and be a one-man team, then I think Rockets have a great chance of pulling off the impossible. The problem is, Durant is too smart and unselfish of a player to not get others involved. So I think OKC will figure out what they need to take care of a hobbled Rockets (without Lin). It’s interesting how analysts don’t mention the absence of Lin in the context of how it is a disadvantage for the Rockets. I mean, Lin is a key player on the team and announcers barely talk about it. This is just another double-standard that Lin deals with.

      • MrPingPong

        I agree with you that Lin need not be 100% to play at this stage, just good enough to contribute. But as you can see from the news, as of this afternoon, Lin was able to practice only with his left hand. There is no way he can help the team with a weak right arm. People are very quick to dismiss Lin in every occasion. That’s part of Linsanity, it seems.

        I also agree with you that OKC went about the wrong way by solely relying on KD. I hope they are blind to the fact and keep doing the same thing and lose game 5. I already bought tickets for game 6! πŸ™‚

      • standupphilosopher

        Yeah, things aren’t looking good for Lin right now. Hope it all changes by tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

      • MrPingPong

        I stumbled upon this video that claims to be Lin’s practicing for game 5.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7dxmjvujzg&feature=share&list=LLFofbftFnyQ86YGm7wgJ2Tg

        I have no way of verifying the date of the video.

      • standupphilosopher

        Thanks for the video, MrPingPong.

      • MrPingPong

        Very strange! The Youtube link for Lin’s practice for game 5 should be:

        http://youtu.be/X7dxmjvujzg

        I guess I copied/pasted the wrong link.
        Hopefully it works this time.

  • teko

    A better option than a superstar
    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/44191/a-better-option-than-a-superstar

    In the crunch-time of the playoff 2011-12, superstars shot at 41.8%, non-superstar shot at 54.2%. It’s a striking difference. Not because that they are worse, but because they face stronger defense.

    Hero ball*
    *Or how NBA teams fail by giving the ball to money players in crunch time
    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7649571/nba-kobe-bryant-not-money-think-espn-magazine

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks for the links, teko. Great stuff! Finally, someone in the mainstream media is talking about this stuff. I wrote a post earlier in the season that tried to open people’s minds about how the Rockets are actually more effective with the ball in Lin’s hands, rather than Hardens when the game is in the line, because it gives Rockets 5 weapons, rather than 1: http://jeremylintelligence.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/rockets-is-more-dangerous-with-the-ball-starting-out-in-lins-hands-with-the-game-on-the-line/

      There’s too much conventional thinking in basketball. Another one is letting the shot clock wind down before initiating a play, because you want to use up as much of the clock as possible. Harden does this a lot to the Rocket’s detriment over and over again. He did it in last night’s game unnecessarily, because the game clock still had 12 seconds left, so it was unnecessary to use up all the shot clock, since the Thunder would have had the ball and would have probably run out the clock, as well so leaving them a couple of seconds didn’t matter. What matters more in the situation last night, as in most situations, is to score. But Harden ALWAYS opts for using up the clock over giving the Rockets a better chance to score. He ALWAYS runs the clock down to like 5 or 6 seconds before he even starts doing anything and that’s why he often gets stuck with bad shots and that’s ANOTHER reason why he’s so bad in end-of-game situations.

      The practice interviews of McHale and Harden from today are interesting. It shows that they are actually not in alignment in end-of-game situations. Or at least McHale seems to be learning that iso is not working, but Harden is freelancing out there and trying to be the hero. The interviewer asked Harden about that shot he took in the second to last possession and he said he’d do the EXACT same thing again. Said that the shot was good, he was just cold from sitting on the bench too long. McHale, on the other hand, said that he drew up a play with screens and such to get guys open and that they shouldn’t wait so long to initiate the offense. So McHale seems to be in line with my thinking. Harden seems to be the one working off script and trying to be the big time hero. Hopefully, McHale wins out in this battle.

      • MrPingPong

        I agree with everything you say here, Philosopher. As I’ve stated several times before, I have given up of McHale. I am doubtful that he is can control Harden. He has let Harden do whatever he wants on the court from day one. It is too late to hold Harden accountable for his “bad behavior”.

        I do not think Lin will be able to play tonight. I can only hope somehow Harden recovers from his shooting slump and makes crucial baskets as he will try to do “the EXACT same thing again”. The rest of the Jeremy Lins on the team will just have to give everything they have and win this one!

        Let’s go Red Nation!

    • MrPingPong

      Yeah, teko! Move the ball around and find the open man!
      Does anyone here remember this game?

      http://youtu.be/WY0I2i1eQ6Y?t=8m10s

      • MrPingPong

        Watch it at around 8:10! πŸ™‚

      • standupphilosopher

        Yep. Ball movement, player movement is KEY throughout the game and it’s no different in end-of-game situations. The conventional wisdom is to fear turning the ball over, so they like to keep the ball in just one man’s hands. But i think this fear is over-exaggerated. I think the percentage of turning the ball over is low enough not to be a deterring factor. It kills me all the time how people don’t question conventional thinking. I see it in so many situations. People just go along with what others have done without really thinking critically about it before deciding to go along with it or to find a different way.

  • fire9flyer

    does the team doctor know.Osteopath tteatment ? i had a similar injury from a bad fall and i can’t even lift up my right arm to shake hand with people at work. The musule around the area of impact are all entangle up. so it feel like arm being lock up with pain each time i trying to move it. At the treatment table, the doctor will adjust.the musule back to where each should be, by massage and stretching and pulling ettc. Immediately i can shake his hand to thank him.
    looking at Lin progress, i do not think he reveive such treatment. He only get conventional treatment like wrapping up to prevent movement and hope that it will heal.

    • standupphilosopher

      Yeah, they’re probably just giving him conventional treatment, fire9flyer.

      • MrPingPong

        Here is the latest on Lin:

        ClutchFans.net @clutchfans
        Lin says he’s a little more optimistic than last game, but hard to imagine him playing after seeing him need assistance to get his shirt on.

        Jonathan Feigen @Jonathan_Feigen
        If Lin can play, McHale said he would likely bring him off bench in brief stints. Wants to see him, evaluate after no workouts for a week.

        And the latest on Harden:

        Houston Rockets βœ” @HoustonRockets
        RT @JasonCFriedman: Harden feeling under the weather. Asik receiving treatment for back that’s bugged him last couple days.

        Jonathan Feigen @Jonathan_Feigen
        Perhaps this will clear it up. Kevin McHale: “James will be fine tonight. At 8:30, I’m sure he’ll be ready to go, … excited to play.”

        At least Parsons, Beverly and Garcia and the rest of the team seem OK.
        Against all odds: letz go Rockets!

      • standupphilosopher

        Things definitely not looking good for the Rockets.

      • MrPingPong
        • standupphilosopher

          Thanks, MrPingPong. I actually did hear this interview with the doctor. It sounds like Lin’s injury is debilitating for an athlete. Can’t take deep breaths. No wonder the trainers haven’t cleared him to play. It looks like there’s a possibility that he’ll see spot minutes in Game 6.

          Problem is, Lin is basically in a no win situation if he plays–especially if Rockets lose. But he’s just gotta shut all of that out and do what he can.

          • MrPingPong

            Part of Linsanity is about being a no-win situation, isn’t it?
            I am sure Lin is dying to play, but he should not play if he is not healthy enough to help the team.
            Game 6 is out of the question, but game 7 and then game 3 and game 4 of round 2!
            Delusional am I not?
            πŸ™‚

  • MrPingPong

    Here’s the first half of the first quarter of game 4. Rockets came out fast and strong this time. Lin looked really nice in a suit. I know he plans to become a pastor in his NBA afterlife, but he looks more like somebody from a (conservative) economics think tank. πŸ™‚

    http://youtu.be/03TnIblmv2Y

    More later…

  • BC
    • MrPingPong

      Rather dysfunctional, aren’t we?
      πŸ™‚

    • standupphilosopher

      Thanks for the link, BC. This is the interview I referenced in my comments to teko above. I was actually thinking about splicing the interviews together and putting it on my YouTube Channel, just like CSN Houston did. Glad they did it, so I don’t have to.

  • “@RedNinetyFour Aaron Brooks has been huge. If there’s a Game 6 and Jeremy Lin is healthy – sorry, but Jeremy shouldn’t play.”

    Poor Jeremy. I’m pretty sure it’s a real injury (who the hell wouldn’t want to play in the playoffs?). Aaron Brooks and Beverly looking good though. Can the Rox pull it off without Lin? And if they do…..