So another game, another Houston Rockets loss. Without a fourth quarter come back and no opportunity of a Hail Mary three point shot to tie the game and take it into overtime the Rockets lost, yet again.
While many were excited by the prospect of a new start the reality was the Rockets were lucky to even get into an overtime game versus the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday. Cut to Friday night’s game against inter division rivals the Memphis Grizzlies and once more the Rockets trailed by double digits for the majority of the second half. Though the team mounted a last minute come back effort, it was too little, too late.
Three Things We Learned:
K.J. McDaniels Needs Additional Minutes:
Presumably Daryl Morey signed K.J. McDaniels to play a contributing role on the court. So, it was surprising he was simply keeping the bench warm especially with the team struggling on defense. When many Clutch City fans didn’t see McDaniels receiving any playing time they questioned the decision. Understandably with Marcus Thornton rolling it made sense to call his number first, but lately he’s been struggling. As SCS has noted extensively, while Thornton can get hot like he did early this season, he’s a streaky player who can go cold just as quickly.
So, when Trevor Ariza suffered two hard falls and was listed as questionable for the Blazers game McDaniels was called back from Rio Grande in case he was required to step in. He was a DNP coaches decision versus the Blazers, but Friday got on the court albeit only after the Rockets were trailing by double digits. Immediately he made an impact and registered a team high plus +12 in the box score. This fact shouldn’t be over looked given only 2 players were plus on the Rockets roster (Terrence Jones was the other registering a plus +5).
McDaniels in just 15 minutes put up some heady numbers: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 offensive rebound, a steal, one 3 point make and as noted a team high plus +12. The theory has been McDaniels wouldn’t spread the court like Thornton can which may make the Rockets easier to guard, but his plus/minus stats clearly state otherwise. With many elements of the Rockets requiring tweaks, the one positive Bickerstaff should recognize is McDaniels offers an immediate defensive response and is much more capable offensively than he’s given credit for. Bottom line Bickerstaff needs to find K.J. minutes.
Marc Gasol is very well-rounded:
Though this isn’t breaking news, the fact this was Marc Gasol‘s first triple-double of his career is. Gasol finished the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals and was a plus + 14.
Bickerstaff has plenty of work ahead:
Don’t kid yourself this Rockets team has plenty of work to do. They continue to be terrible defensively and continue to make the fundamental error of not contesting shots. They rank 24th defensively allowing 104.9 points per game, have a negative net ranking of minus -7.9 which ranks 26th, and they rank 20th in perimeter defense allowing teams to shoot 35.3%. Notably last season the Rockets boasted the best perimeter defense.
Offensively this vine pretty much gives the old adage a picture is worth 1,000 words credibility:
Ummm, yeah. Enough said.
Saturday the Rockets get another shot at a win versus the Knicks, but need to be careful not to underestimate New York who just beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City!
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.