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Three Things We Learned In Houston Rockets Loss to Pistons

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Once again this season the Houston Rockets dug themselves a hole too deep in the first half that they couldn’t recover from in the later stages of the game.

The team had no answers for Andre Drummond’s command of the paint and Reggie Jackson’s drives. Unlike the Knicks game the Detroit Pistons managed to hold on to their lead and snap their own losing streak.

It’s worth noting the Pistons have the worst shooting percentage in the league, but the Rockets still found a way to let them shoot a ridiculous 52.9% (mostly due to easy layups) while the Rockets themselves were restricted to a mere 39.8%.

Here are the three things we learned from last night’s pitiful display

Turnovers: Was it all just a dream?

After a night to remember with only 8 turnovers against the New York Knicks, the Houston Rockets reverted to their old ways and habit of turning the ball over (16 turnovers). There were some serious sloppy moments. Case in point, take a look at this ridiculous turnover below which originated from a James Harden defensive rebound:

.@iAmSJ + @AndreDrummondd = ??? https://t.co/D6Y3iqB7T6

— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) December 1, 2015

James Harden continued his terrible habit of dribbling the ball for too long wasting time off the shot clock and then couldn’t finish the play in the last seconds. The result of this practice was turnovers leading to fast break points for the opposition.

There may be a solution though – – Ty Lawson. Last night when he was on court he moved the ball fast, finished plays quickly and integrated his teammates. I say let him handle the ball instead of James Harden or at least more often.

If Bickerstaff utilizes Lawson more perhaps he’ll eventually get consistent minutes and it might be one way of mixing things up. James Harden doesn’t have to be the Rockets’ point guard and shooting guard at the same time. Teams have already figured out that he’ll likely take the ball to the basket or stand there dribbling and with that not working, it’s time for a change.

An Elite Center

Last night at least for me (but it should’ve been for all Rockets’ fans watching the game) it was a wake up call. It showed how far removed Dwight Howard is from being a premiere center in the Association.

Andre Drummond is everything the Rockets would wish for in Dwight Howard. He is a beast.

I’m not sure if I’d say Drummond is on the same level as Dwight Howard at the beginning of his career or if he’s already an improved version of Howard. He is however an old fashioned center. Drummond doesn’t necessarily have any ‘special skill. For example, he doesn’t shoot threes like DeMarcus Cousins, nor does he have a beautiful jump shot like Anthony Davis,  but everything he does is flawlessly executed.

He clogs and defends the paint, he boxes out like no one else in the league, he opens up lanes for drives, he works the post and shoots beautiful hooks. He doesn’t need anyone else by his side to crash the boards as far as the paint area is concerned, he is a one-man show.

16 double-doubles on the season. Take a look at @AndreDrummondd‘s day at the office. https://t.co/m9ONG0A75O

— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) December 1, 2015

Now imagine if Dwight could produce like that for the Rockets. It would facilitate penetration, easy layups and hook shots for Ariza, Harden and his court mates. The reason Marcus Morris, Ilyasova and Reggie Jackson got all those points is not because they are amazingly skilled and talented: they are not. (they would not even be starters on most teams!) It’s because Drummond makes their job easier by drawing the opposition’s attention under the basket.

I believe that with the right amount of work and some bulking up Clint Capela might become as talented as Andre. And, if playing beside Donatas Motiejunas he would complement DeMo’s skill set as Capela would operate in the post and DeMo could either work in concert with him or spread the floor by working on the perimeter. For Dwight, however, it feels like his time has come and gone.

Rotation Worries

As coach J.B. Bickerstaff tweaks and turns looking for the best rotations and players who perform specific roles we are left wondering certain questions about those options. For example:

1  What will Terrence Jones role be once Donatas Motiejunas comes back?

2 Is Capela’s starting gig in jeopardy with D-Mo’s return and Marcus Thornton resurgence?

3 Who should be the starting point guard? Beverley or Lawson?

If we were to take the Pistons game as a guideline to answer those questions, I would offer these answers:

First: TJ seems to be falling further down the depth chart each time out. Bickerstaff is insisting he use his size and protect the rim. However, Montrezl Harrell saw some action last night and to be fair he brought much more energy to the game than Jones. Depending on how Motiejunas performs in his return I don’t think TJ deserves any more minutes. 

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Second: If life and JB Bickerstaff are fair (again: depending if Motiejunas returns to last season’s form) Dwight Howard is the one who should be benched. We all know though: that’s not gonna happen.

Still if it comes down strictly to performances then it’s going to be tough for Superman to retain his position in the starting lineup. Regarding Thornton, I believe he is a key part of the bench and every time he gets hot he becomes the spark the Rockets need to get back in the game.

Third: I’d stick with Beverley for the time being due to his defense prowess but Lawson does provide the Rockets with more variations on the offensive end.

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