The Houston Rockets game and win against the New Orleans Pelicans revealed to us quite a few things about the two teams. It still remains unclear the exact reason as to why they are both struggling. However watching the game one thing that became evident was the number of mistakes the two teams commit.
Two major issues stood out:
- Turnovers: The Pelicans had a season high of 23 last night!
- Poor 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Both teams shot under 30%
One thing is for certain: the Rockets and the Pelicans are under performing and could possibly benefit from a roster shake-up or a trade.
Plus, the Pelicans are still suffering from injuries and players are still adjusting to Alvin Gentry’s new system.
So, here are the three things we saw last night:
Rockets Get By With a Little Bench Help: The Rebirth of Ty Lawson
For only the second time this season the Rockets bench outscored the opponent’s bench (the last 2 games), and this might very well be related to Houston Rockets point guard Ty Lawson slowly returning to his Denver Nuggets form.
Last night Ty played for 29 minutes, 3 more than starting point guard Patrick Beverley and in every single one of those 29 minutes he gave the Rockets quality plays. He consciously picked his shots didn’t try anything wild or force any plays; Lawson attempted 6 shots and knocked down 4 of them, including a three-pointer.
There’s one thing Houston Rockets fans should understand: we need Ty Lawson to succeed, he’s our guy. Giving up on him so soon is bad for the organization on every level:
1 – The team lose a proven talented player that can improve the squad.
2 – There’s no quality backup for the Rockets at the point guard position
3 – Daryl Morey can’t trade him for value in the future.
Beyond him other players stepped up to the plate last night: Corey Brewer who so far had had terrible games still couldn’t knock down his shots, but at least was more aggressive, and Terrence Jones held down the fort on the defensive end whenever Clint Capela and Dwight Howard were out due to foul troubles.
James Harden Value
I’ll continue arguing that James Harden is more valuable for the Rockets moving the ball and drawing the defensive attention with his extraordinary drives and overall presence than continuously trying to take the game by assault, holding the ball for too long and iso plays.
Harden doesn’t have to drop 40+ for the Rockets to win a game. As a matter of fact he shouldn’t. His over utilization is hurting the team, that much is evident between Houston Rockets analysts.
James Harden can’t play over 38 minutes every night and people still expect him to be efficient on both ends of the court (Just ask him!). That’s why every week we get an even more hilarious “what’s James Harden doing?” on defense.
That’s not to say Harden is useless or should be benched or traded or whatever. Nobody here is crazy enough to think that, the bearded one is probably in the top 5 best players from Rockets history – already – but because he’s too important, then perhaps with a tweak or two in his minutes and the way he plays could be the difference between this season’s 8 wins and 11 losses and last season’s 14 wins and 4 losses.
Last night he was already more alert and careful on the defensive end. Check out this beautiful block he had on Norris Cole
The Beard ended up with 24 points, 10 rebounds ans 6 assists.
Still a long way to go
Even though H-town got the W there’s still a lot of work ahead. But there’s a lot of things we are doing better. J.B. Bickerstaff’s work is obviously paying off.
First in terms of the turnovers – It remains to be seen if the team can maintain this lower level of turnovers, but it needs to be a priority. Not counting the game against the Pistons, the Rockets are turning the ball over much less than we’ve been use to. Last night they turned the ball over just 10 times a very good percentage.
Secondly: Steals – That’s not a surprise as the Houston Rockets were already great in this category last season, but the team is managing to improve on that category and is now ranked second best for number of steals per game in the NBA.
Finally: Rotation – That comes with time, but Bickerstaff is more prone to trust his bench players with more minutes. With the addition of Donatas Motiejunas there’s no reason at all for Houston to keep Harden and Ariza’s minutes to 36+, except of course in special occasions.
Howard will benefit from that also, as his absence on back-to-back games won’t be felt as much with D-Mo available.
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