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Three Takeaways From Houston Rockets Loss to The Cavs

Jan 15, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) scores a basket as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends during the third quarter at Toyota Center. The Cavaliers won 91-77. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) scores a basket as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends during the third quarter at Toyota Center. The Cavaliers won 91-77. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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For two quarters it seemed the Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers were heading to a competitive and edgy game, similar to last year’s March encounter.

Instead the Cleveland Cavaliers simply took the game by assault and even without that much of an effort dispatched the Houston Rockets with no problems

The fourth quarter was mainly disputed by bench players and Dwight Howard, Rockets biggest offensive threat last night, didn’t play a single minute.

Nevertheless I present you with the three things we saw in the Rockets ugly defeat to the Cavaliers.

The Rockets are not elite…

Thought I’d start up with the one that is likely to upset most Rockets fans, but also the thing they’ve known for a while. This season it has become abundantly clear the Rockets just don’t belong to the elite powerhouses of the NBA. If nothing else last night should’ve been a wake up call.

That’s just not fair. @KyrieIrving dribbles through basically every Rocket in sight. #CavsRockets https://t.co/q2hfTgsuZb

— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) 16 janeiro 2016

Granted this same Rockets team had huge victories already against the Clippers (twice) the Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. But, I have a hard time believing they could measure up with any of those teams in a 7 games series without home court advantage.

Of course we are only halfway through the season and a lot of things can change, but the team is clearly lacking firepower. Last night when James Harden was 0-for-5 from the three-point line and 2-for-10 from the field, no one else stepped forward. Howard played his game but the squad just doesn’t have that player who can lit up and score in bunches.

Marcus Thornton just cannot be relied on to be this player. He has on and off nights, the same with Terrence Jones, but the Rockets need a reliable pure scorer who can put numbers up consistently i.e.  every single night.

Just as the Clippers have JJ Reddick and Blake Griffin, the Spurs have Tony ParkerKawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Thunder have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Warriors have Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.

The Rockets have Harden and that’s it!  If he having a poor shooting night, there is no one else who can reliably back him up.

It gets scarier when we take a look at the stats. When James Harden scores less than 25 points the Rockets are 4-11! Therefore more than half the team’s losses are when Harden is canceled offensively. It’s too little for a team who are aiming at a Championship.

Which brings us to my second point.

Do Rockets even need a bench?

I’m not being obtuse, I ask this question because last night what we got from the reserves was a complete sham. Until J.B. Bickerstaff cleared his bench in the fourth quarter they had registered an unbelievably measly 6 points.

It hurts to say this but Bickerstaff’s bench squad is a joke! Take a look at the Rockets bench stats:

  • Points per game: 16.4 which ranks 24th
  •  Rebounds per game: 11.4 which ranks dead last 
  • Assists per game: 6.2 which ranks 26th
  • Blocks per game: 1.3 which ranks 24th
  • Efficiency: 31.6 which ranks 27th
  • Minutes per game: 16.4 which ranks 29th

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Last night arguably the two  best bench players didn’t even play until the game was already decided. K.J. McDaniels and Montrezl Harrell both injected energy and intensity to the game. Still they keep being overlooked in favor of Corey Brewer, Ty Lawson and Jason Terry all having terrible seasons or in the twilight of their careers.

It makes me wonder: why this team spent their entire mid-level exception for essentially a D-League player? Or at least that’s how they keep treating K.J. McDaniels. It’s just bewildering.

Is there a silver lining?

I’m not sure if it’s a Silver Lining or a consolation prize but Dwight Howard has been playing great basketball in the last 8 games.

Dwight Howard with the finish! #NBAVotepic.twitter.com/6cMx0KQdCN

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) 16 janeiro 2016

Howard is finally showing some consistency posting a double-double in all 8 games. His field-goal percentage is circling around 68% and overall he is genuinely looking like a better player.

If Dwight manages to keep his productivity at this level for the remainder of the season then the Rockets could definitely present some danger in the post season. Provided we fix some of the issues mentioned above.

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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. 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.

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