Rockets Contain Red Hot Blazers in Beverley’s Return

Patrick Beverley didn’t show any rust in his return to the starting lineup against the red-hot Blazers. So I can’t say, “I told you so” to McHale and have to eat the words I wrote in my comments to MrPingPong (in the previous post) about how I think Beverley should be eased into the starting lineup. Beverley was humble enough, though, to ask to be subbed out in the second quarter (I think) due to fatigue. So he’ll have to work on managing his energy level, which has always been an issue for Beverley and is one of the reasons it makes a lot of sense to have him come off the bench as an energy guy. But I have to give McHale credit. Beverley was ready to go last night. He actually looked the best he’s look probably all season. He was aggressive, confident and his threes fell. He didn’t hesitate about scoring and didn’t defer to Harden. I think sitting on the bench and observing may have helped Beverley figure out his place with the team a little bit more and gave him confidence to assert himself on the offensive end more. This is something that I was hoping Lin’s injury would help Lin do. But Lin came back from injury much less confident and a very different player from the one that started the season with so much confidence and lack of inhibition.

McHale’s management of Beverley’s minutes was a little odd, last night. For example, he subbed Beverley out very early in the first quarter (with 8 minutes or so left in the quarter), even when Beverley was doing well. I was pretty surprised by this. Normally he doesn’t make substitutions until the 4 minute mark. So maybe McHale was trying to ease Beverley back into the starting lineup, but didn’t want to rock the boat by taking away his starting job. Not sure. Beverley ended up playing only 29 minutes, despite having a great game. So it does appear that McHale was cognizant of containing Beverley’s minutes on his first day back. This is in contrast to McHale playing Parsons 39 minutes on his first day back from an injury. Although, Beverley had been out longer, so it makes sense that McHale would be more careful about containing Beverley’s minutes.

I also noticed that Beverley’s return seemed to motivate Lin to try to be more aggressive. Although Lin was a non-factor in last night’s game, he was more aggressive than he had been in the last few games. He didn’t do the “glorified ball boy thing” last night, but couldn’t really get much going. He just didn’t have it last night, but at least it looked like he was trying to be aggressive. Lin did get robbed of a couple non-calls from the refs. I’m starting to feel like Lin is, again, getting the shaft from the refs. It hasn’t gotten to the absurd level that it was at early last season and hopefully it doesn’t, although that non-call mauling of Lin in the recent Celtics game was very disturbing.

Last night’s game started out eerily similar to the OKC game. Rockets couldn’t miss. But, unlike the OKC game, the Rockets remained pretty stable throughout the game and managed to beat one of the best teams in the NBA for a second time this season. Looks like the Rockets have Blazers number so if they face the Blazers in the playoffs Rockets could stand a good chance to advance to the western conference finals. I can’t really figure out why the Rockets seem to have a pretty easy time against the Blazers, because on paper it seems like the Blazers would be a tough match up. It’s not like the Knicks last season versus the Rockets last season, who had completely different styles and the Rockets blew out the Knicks even when the Knicks were dominant early last season. Blazers and Rockets play relatively similar styles, so I’m not sure why the Rockets seem to have little problem putting away the Blazers. We’ll see if Rockets will continue to have an edge over the Blazers the rest of the season.

The Rockets looked great last night. It was a total team effort, minus Lin. Lin was the only player to have a negative +/- (-7) on the night and Beverley’s +/- was otherworldly in that it was more than twice the player with the second highest +/- of the game (+26). I don’t generally put too much stock in +/- game-to-game, but Beverley’s +/- for the game was hard to ignore. As with most +/- measures, luck had some to do with Beverley’s very high +/- (i.e., Beverley just happened to get subbed in when the Rockets, as a whole, went on a run and/or the Blazers happened to be in a slump). Despite Beverley’s high +/-, the best player of the game was clearly Parsons, who was especially dominant in the first half doing everything imaginable on the court. Parsons was very active and really helped set the tone for the Rockets. The ball movement was excellent and, as Beverley said in his postgame, the Rockets played “the right way.” They shared the ball and played unselfishly.

I think one of the reasons why McHale loves Beverley so much is because he just goes out there and works his ass off. He doesn’t care about scoring and just goes hard, without any agenda. Very blue-collar and he’s got a lot of grit. I don’t think McHale sees Lin having these attributes. I think McHale thinks Lin is more concerned about his stats, about scoring, etc. and doesn’t just go out there and play without an agenda. I’m not saying McHale is right about Lin, but I do think McHale is right on about Beverley. And it’s what makes me a fan of Beverley and it’s why I think a lot of people are fans of Beverley. He is very much “in the moment” when he is on the court. He doesn’t think. He just plays. He acts in the moment without concern for anything beyond that moment. This is how Beverley is able to constantly inject a high level of energy and why he’s so poor at managing his energy level. He plays every moment as if it is the only moment there is. He’s in the Now.

I do think Lin over thinks things way too much out there. This was especially the case at the beginning of last season and is starting to be the case, as well, this season. Lin is very analytical and a Harvard education doesn’t help in that regard. Overly educated people tend to be in their head way too much. This is why I think McHale thinks Lin is concerned about his stats or has an agenda, because I think he sees Lin being concerned about too many things out there and not just going out there and playing. The thing is, Lin isn’t so much worried about his stats as he is concerned about messing up in McHale’s eyes. I’m sure Lin is also questioning his future with the Rockets. These fears all show up in Lin’s play and prevents him from being “in the moment” when he’s on the court. I don’t expect things to change anytime soon in this regard. I’ve talked about this in the past, but Lin really needs to sit down with Tony Robbins (or someone nearly as great) to get him back to playing loose and free. When Lin plays loose and free, he’s Linsanity and he’s unstoppable. Lately, Lin has been playing very inhibited, playing scared. And this is why even though Beverley’s return motivated Lin to play more aggressively, he still wasn’t able to get much going. Hopefully, he’ll get it together soon. I do believe that Beverley’s return is a positive thing for Lin in one respect: it’ll motivate him to be more aggressive.

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  • MrPingPong

    Thanks for your post game analysis, Philosopher. I caught bits and pieces of the first half, but was able to watch the whole second half. No rust in Bev at all! That is quite amazing! May be Bev is Wolverine after all! 🙂

    I concur with you that Lin is over thinking out there, instead of just playing. Lin has got to reach deep and clear his mind of all fear and hesitation. In Japanese martial art, it’s called “mushin”, which literally translates as “no heart”, but which really means “no mind”! Anyway, Lin has to find his own way out of this quagmire. I am patient and cool about it.

    In the mean time, let’s hope the Rockets can play consistently well and make it deep into the playoffs. And let’s hope that Lin stays healthy and learns and improves continually.

    • You’re welcome, MrPingPong. Yep, Lin should have a long career ahead of him, so I’m also patient.

  • MrPingPong

    Hello Lin fans/non-fans,

    Kings game tonight for Lin and the Rockets. I placed a few cheap bids for a ticket to see the game tonight in order to catch a few glimpses of Lin coming off the bench! 🙂 May be I get lucky! If not, I’ll watch the OZ open then! Hey, it’s old time Nadal vs Federer again! 🙂

    Letz GO JL7! Rule the Kings!

    PS: I know this is a blog to discuss Lin and basketball. I hope our Philosopher will tolerate just a tiny bit of other sports here.

    • All discussions are welcome here, MrPingPong! I tend to go off tangent, myself. I had no idea that Nadal is playing Federer in the Australian open. May have to check it out, myself.

  • MrPingPong

    Hello folks,

    I went to the game last night. Here is the first quarter. I taped a little bit of the start of the first and then all of Lin when he came off the bench. Kings were doomed when Gay and Cousins went down with injuries early in the game. And the Kings fans would probably blame Bev for fouling Cousins hard causing him to fall down and rolled his ankle! 🙂

    Switching to Oz Open, there will be a new Ladies champion this year for sure: Li vs Cibulkova. I like Cibulkova. She reminds me of Lin: underdog but aggressive and fearless! 🙂

    • Thanks for posting the live video of the game, MrPingPong! So how did Lin look last night to you? I didn’t watch the game. That sucks that Kings lost their star players. Man, Bev is definitely earning a reputation as the Rockets hit man. Hopefully, there won’t be any repercussions.

      Haven’t been following tennis much, lately. I enjoy playing the sport, though, but am unfamiliar with a lot of the new players–especially on the women’s side. The men’s side seems more consistent, in terms of the top five or so players.

      I’m still a big fan of Federer, because his strokes are picture perfect and he also moves gracefully on the court. I’m not a fan of Nadal’s style at all, but he seems like a good guy and I admire his grit and energy. He puts it all out there on the court. Federer and Nadal are like polar opposites, so always interesting to see them play against one another. Nadal is up big on Federer now in their match ups. Federer used to be God of Tennis, but has come down to earth considerably.

      • MrPingPong

        Lin did not look relaxed and comfortable out there in my view: missed easy layups and wide-open treys, and silly fouls. It’s not the fearless and confident Lin that I used to know. I’ll post more of my videos of Lin later.

        The replay shows that Cousins rolled his ankle as he went up towards the basket, before Bev fouled him. So Bev did not cause the injury. But Bev haters will hate Bev no matter what. I don’t remember where I read it, but someone even blamed Lin for causing Cousins to roll his ankle! It’s amazing how people can come up with that stuff!

        Yes, the Fed simply plays beautiful tennis! Rod Laver at one point commented that he saw no weakness in Fed’s game. But the Rafa the Bull seems to own Fed by constantly pressure Fed’s one-handed backhand with his powerful topspin forehand. I am a fan of both.

        Fed has recently hired Edberg as coach and things seem to work out well for both parties. I think Fed has a slight edge in this upcoming match because Nadal has some serious blisters on his left hand and as a result, has not been serving and hitting well.

        • Thanks for your on-the-ground reporting, MrPingPong! Looks like Lin’s got a lot on his mind, these days.

          Well, I’m glad Bev didn’t cause the injury, because it’s dangerous to have that reputation of being the guy to take star players out of commission.

          Nadal’s forehand is scary. And it’s crazy that Federer is still using a one-handed backhand against all the power in the game today. That being said, this one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty. I’ve watched it over and over and over in all varying speeds.

          I did read about Federer hiring Edberg as some sort of advisor. Apparently, the relationship is top secret. It seems to be working, though. Could this be Federer’s resurgence?! 🙂

  • pistolpete

    Sigh… Just no fun watching Jeremy stand in the corner. What a waste of talent. I’ll probably keep watching though – it’s winter not much else to do. Maybe I will check out some tennis also… and dream of a trade or McHale firing…

    • MrPingPong

      Attendance was light last night with lots of empty seats. I was able to get a ticket in the lower bowl area for only $13. The game became all the more boring after the two best players of the KIngs went out with injuries. It was too easy for the Rockets.

      But Grizz, Spurs and Mavs are coming up! These games should offer more dramas! So keep watching, Pistol! And keep on dreaming too! 🙂

    • I hear you, pistolpete. For the sake of my longevity, I try to stay away from a lot of these Rockets games and just watch some here and there to get an overall feel of how things are going with Jeremy Lin, so that I’m not completely out of the loop.

  • MrPingPong

    Hello Lin fans/non-fans, here are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters of the Kigns game.

    If the weather gets better here in Houston, I might go to the Grizz game tonight!

    And for the tennis fans on this blog, The Fed still had no answers for The Bull’s lethal forehand and lost in three straight! I think “old age” has a lot to do with Fed being half a step slow and thus failing to keep up with the relentless Bull’s attack and counter attacks. Nobody can cheat father time! I feel fortunate to have witnessed such a great rivalry in tennis. (I know, it’s not table tennis, or ping pong, as it is commonly called). 🙂

    • I’ll see if I can catch the Grizzlies game tonight.

      Federer is probably the last of the Finesse players (although he has plenty of power himself). But tennis these days is all power and Federer has become somewhat of a Dinosaur. He should have probably retired on top, like Sampras, but it’s probably hard for him to stay away from the game.

      Table tennis is very exciting to watch, although I don’t see much of it. Only watch it during the Olympics.