The last two losses have been frustrating and the cause is never simply attributed to one factor. The first look at the numbers is a bit of an enigma. Against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Houston Rockets had very good overall numbers, including 70 points in the paint. Upon further investigation, however, it appears that the Rockets are in desperate need of production from the bench.
They were outscored 42-23 in bench point production against the Bucks, with the bench minutes being roughly the same. Chandler Parsons himself has stated that playing the up-tempo style necessary for the Rockets is ‘exhausting’. In the end, playing defense and getting out on the break consistently are not a matter of talent but of effort. It is not enough to do it once in a while. The Rockets must do it every game. James Harden and Jeremy Lin are banged up now and help from the bench is needed more than ever. It is harder to chart the defensive production of the bench, but it is obviously not up to par when the Bucks’ bench outscores the Rockets +30 to -28 in plus/minus.
The reason for the lack of bench effectiveness is absolutely understandable however. Only three guys presently on the 8-man bench have been there most of the year. After the recent Thomas Robinson trade, the Rockets have essentially a completely revamped second unit, not to mention one new starter. I support the trade and am excited about the future potential, but the consequence will be some growing pains in the short term.
Fans, however, are not a patient lot and have a tendency to discount how difficult it is to build a contender and wait for chemistry to develop with the bench as well as the starters. Tonight is only the second game with the new bench that includes Tim Ohlbrecht from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, whom I am interested to see get time.
There are 23 games left for the Rockets to get their bench brigade up to speed and see if Robinson can contribute to a playoff run. In a game tonight against an Orlando Magic team that the Rockets are supposed to beat, keep an eye on the bench to see if things are starting to pick up.