The Rockets lost to Golden State Sunday after winning a NBA-best 13 of their previous 17 games.
The Rockets lost for just the fifth time in the last 18 contests on Sunday, falling 106-97 to mediocre Golden State (10-14). Houston sits at 16-12 now with its next game Tuesday against Memphis. The Rockets lost in spite of owning the boards, 47-35 overall and 13-6 on the offensive glass.
Here are some things I took from Sunday’s game:
– MARTIN WAKES UP: It had been a dismal run for Kevin Martin heading into Sunday. The Rockets’ top scoring threat had averaged just four points on 19 percent shooting (5 of 26) in the previous four games. He was absolutely awful against Phoenix on Friday with two points on 1-of-2 shooting in 13 minutes. Interestingly enough, however, the Rockets were 3-1 in those games. So what happens when Martin finally gets his groove back (not unlike Stella) and blitzes Golden State for 28 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-11 from 3? Well, they lose of course. Go figure. Just as Kevin gets his shot back, a streak in which Houston had won four of its previous five games is snapped. More proof that Martin’s production is not a significant factor in the Rockets’ success.
– 3s, 3s AND MORE 3s: Entering Sunday’s game, the Rockets were third in the league in opponents’ 3-point shooting, allowing just 30 percent marksmanship from deep. But that was far from the case Sunday, as Golden State made 13 of its 24 3s (54.2 percent) as the Rockets constantly lost track of shooters and failed to rotate hard enough. Even though the Warriors got to the free throw line for just 18 attempts opposed to Houston’s 33, they still walked away easily with a win. There’s really no excuse. Houston’s first line of defense just got beat too easily, and the Warriors – even with no semblance of an inside game – made them pay. It may have been Houston’s preference to let the quick and guard-oriented Warriors have their way from 23’9″ and not closer to the rim or in the lane, but that’s not exactly good coaching when Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Monta Ellis are on the other team.
– NO RESERVE: The Warriors are just a tough matchup for Houston with their length, speed and athleticism, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise to see the Rockets struggle. But you would think Houston’s reserves, arguably the most dynamic bunch in the whole league, who thrive off that same speed and pace would thrive. Not the case. Houston’s bench managed just 29 points on 12 of 30 shooting (40 percent). As much as I don’t care for the plus-minus stat, in game-by-game situations they can be somewhat telling. In this one, no Houston bench player even sniffed a positive number. Goran Dragic posted a -6 and Jordan Hill posted a -9. They were the closest.
– ALL IN THE STATS: Some of the statistical highlights from the game: Luis Scola had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. It was only the third game this season in which he’s grabbed 10 or more boards. … Kyle Lowry, in continuing his struggling shooting year, went 3-for-10, including 1-of-6 from 3. … Courtney Lee, who I fully believe needs to be starting over Martin (which I know will never happen), amassed 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes. … Goran Dragic did not score and missed both of his shot attempts in 13 minutes. When he’s not scoring, he’s not helping. … Good game for Chandler Parsons. He hit half of his four 3-point attempts and had 11 points in 22 minutes.