The Houston Rockets loss to the Denver Nuggets in their season opener was an unpleasant surprise to say the least. The Rockets looked awful. They couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives, and committed 17 turnovers. Careless with the basketball, they looked like they were in preseason form.
With newly acquired point guard Ty Lawson set to face his old team, the Rockets were expected to breeze past Denver, and gain some confidence going in to friday night’s match against the Golden State Warriors.
Though the Rockets lacked depth in the front court with Dwight Howard and Donatas Motiejunas both missing the season opener, they have no excuses for their sloppy performance. The Rockets simply got outplayed. Coach Kevin McHale told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, “I can’t think of anything we did well. We did not play up to a level that’s even remotely what we’ll have to do to be the type of team we want to be.”
Rockets clearly missing Nick Johnson, Joey Dorsey, Kostas Papanikolao and Pablo Prigioni more than we expected.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 29, 2015
That being said, there were some bright spots to Houston’s loss on Wednesday. Most notable was rookie forward Montrezl Harrell. Playing 15 minutes before spending the rest of the game on the bench because of foul trouble, Harrell looked impressive with 8 points on 4-4 shooting.
Aside from showing up on the stat sheet, Harrell just looked confident. When he had the ball in his hands he never looked like a nervous rookie looking to pass it off to one of the veterans. He carried himself with a bold demeanor as though he had already been playing in the league for a couple of seasons.
Harrell was the only Rocket on the positive side of the plus/minus column Wednesday night. With Jones or Motiejunas likely to be moved before the trade deadline, the Rockets hope that Harrell can offer them some valuable back up minutes.
Second year center Clint Capela also looked good for the Rockets with 9 points, 3 blocks, and 7 rebounds. With Dwight Howard out, Capela did his best to protect the rim. Though he missed some rotations on help defense, his three blocks made a difference in Wednesday’s game.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 29, 2015
If Dwight Howard should miss any significant time, the Rockets are hopeful that Capela can play good enough that the Rockets won’t see a substantial fall off in rim protection.
Other than Harrell and Capela, McHale is right, the Rockets didn’t do anything well. Their niche, three point shooting, they were particularly bad at with the team going 8-35 from the three point line.
If the same Rockets team that opened up the season against Denver shows up to play Golden State tonight, they will be in for a rude awakening. Rockets vets need to take a page from Harrell and Capela’s book, and come out playing with something to prove.
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