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.