Dwight Howard: F
Thursday wasn’t Dwight Howard’s night. He scored just two points in the first half but on only three attempts—although he was calling for the ball all game. The Rockets simply refused to feed Howard in the post; the guards repeatedly tried to drive in the lane against a hard-nosed Memphis defense. Howard was called for his fifth foul with over seven minutes to go in the third quarter, guaranteeing him a seat on the bench the rest of the night. He finished the game with two points and six rebounds.
James Harden: D+
How do you record two field goals but end up with 27 points? Ask James Harden, who connected on 22-of-25 attempts from the charity stripe. Similar to Howard, Harden also had a frustrating night but pulled it together in the fourth. Though he made his way to the free-throw line often, he was only two-of-nine from the field through four quarters. Harden acted like a leader on a championship-contending team tonight, leading a surprising late surge with Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons that resulted in a win—albeit an ugly one.
Jeremy Lin: C+
Lin had a quiet first half, starting one-of-four from the field. He showed flashes of Linsanity with some acrobatic plays, and helped lead Houston’s surge in the fourth quarter. He’s been a legitimate candidate for Sixth Man of the Year and has played even better since starting point guard Patrick Beverley went down.
Chandler Parsons: B-
Parsons was the only player who played hard on both ends of the floor the entire game. He flirted with a triple-double, recording 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. He continued to show his improved free-throw shooting, knocking down 5-of-6. After recognizing his outside shots weren’t falling, he tried to play an inside-out game trying to feed Howard in the post.