The League’s MVP Trumps The Houston Rockets’ MVP
By Lee Golden
In a tight knit game that boiled down to the final seconds, the Warriors motto, “Strength in numbers” reminded James Harden that two is better than one. Harden played one of the best games you could imagine for about 47 minutes and 50 seconds. The closing 10 seconds were executed by the Splash Brothers who may also be vying for a defensive nickname.
The Houston Rockets made minor mistakes that cost them a potential 1-1 series heading back to Clutch City. The most common error was letting MVP Steph Curry take open shots and catch a groove. Luckily, the Rockets were equipped with an unstoppable force of their own in James Harden. Even Andrew Bogut watched the two duel in awe.
“Sometimes I want to crack open a beer and get a courtside seat. These two guys are the two best basketball players in the world,” Bogut said.
The two amazed spectators from all over with their extraordinary ball handling, craftiness and shooting ability. But, despite their back and forth affair, someone had to lose. Here’s a look at the pros and cons from the Rockets.
- Houston were better at switching screens than they were in Game One. They made that a point of emphasis going into Game Two. It wasn’t flawless but it amounted in great results (at times) and helped spark a 23-6 run to end the second quarter.
- Dwight Howard showed that his injury was minor enough to remain an effective force on both ends of the floor. His 19 points and 17 rebounds were subtle but not to be overlooked. What’s also not to be overlooked is that his final defensive toil resulted in a difficult reverse layup attempt from Harrison Barnes. Barnes missed the shot which gave the Rockets an opportunity to win the game.
- Active hands and awareness forced the Warriors to commit 16 turnovers and kept their opponent under 100 points for the first time since Game 5 against Dallas. However, there are still areas that can be improved.
- Despite losing all six contests to the Warriors (four in the regular season and two in the playoffs), the Rockets have shown that they are capable of beating Golden State. This game was swayed by poor calls and inattentive mistakes. Both of which can be corrected for the remainder of the series.
- Marreese Speights is expected to miss at least three more games. Houston has hung their hat on their dominance in the paint. They must continue to take advantage while the Warriors’ backup big is unavailable.
- As my editor Tamberlyn Richardson would say, “This game was taken over by the zebras (refs).” The Rockets were cheated out of several momentum swinging calls including a foul called on Harden which should have been called on Draymond Green. I understand that they were in the Oracle Arena but those calls weren’t even close. Especially the one shown below (which would result in two points for Golden State).
- Jason Terry had a number of miscues that GSW capitalized on. On this play, Terry simply was burned on a simple inbounds play. There was no deception or screen that aided Steph to a wide open layup.
- Again, the Rockets tried to implement more switches on screens to eliminate any confusion on defense. The problem with this play is that there was no screen. Terry did not stick to the body of Leandro Barbosa and the consequence was a mismatch and height advantage with Shaun Livingston easily shooting over Terry. That type of shot would not be as effortless with Corey Brewer in his chest.
- This play I’m not sure if it was a lack of communication or just a beautiful jab step by Curry. It looked like Terry was supposed to switch back on Curry as Terrence Jones retreats back to Green. Nevertheless, someone must put a hand up on the most lethal shooter in the league.
- Along with Josh Smith‘s substandard performance on offense (5-17 FGs for 10 points), he managed to forfeit any type of basketball IQ in exchange to ball watch. I’m not taking away any credit the Warriors deserve for their enhanced ball movement that led to 31 assists but not knowing who you’re defending for a full possession is inexcusable.
- This play merely exudes the Rockets’ lack of execution. GSW thrives off turnovers which funds their energy. You can’t let this team gain any steam of they’ll burn you for a hefty run.
- Houston’s bench was only outscored by five points but they played significantly poorer than Golden State’s. The Rockets need Brewer to erase this game from his memory and to erupt for around 20 points. Pablo Prigioni should be transferred to the bench for the remainder of the series and coach Kevin McHale should take the leash off Nick Johnson. He’s a much better defender and he doesn’t have to provide much offense as that department will be patrolled by the others.
Houston now trails 0-2 for the first time this postseason but all hope has not escaped them. They will look to take care of business in Game Three on Saturday night to draw the series closer. If you think this team is defeated, think again. It’s going to take more than a two game deficit to obliterate the spirits of these Rockets’. Just ask the Clippers.
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