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Three Takeaways from Houston Rockets Brutal Loss to the Spurs

Jan 27, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Houston Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 27, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball over Houston Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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After beating the New Orleans Pelicans in a thrilling game on the road, the Houston Rockets faced their Texan rivals the San Antonio Spurs who were looking for redemption after being destroyed by the Golden State Warriors in the first meeting this season.

Unfortunately for H-town the Spurs went into this game with something to prove and James Harden and his crew suffered the consequences.

The Spurs easily dispatched the Houston Rockets after three quarters when they opened up a huge margin of more than 30 points.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green all had great performances. The Rockets after three quarters… simply gave up. Reminded me much of the fateful game against the Boston Celtics after which Kevin McHale got fired.

Here’s 3 things we saw

Fouling the Inbounder: Is the “Hack-a” strategy getting out of hands?

I’ll start by addressing the weirdest most debated moment of last night’s game. The Spurs fouling Clint Capela out of bounds. We’ll review Houston Rockets problems and shortcomings later, but first I offer you a question for reflection: What is the NBA doing with itself?

While I absolutely have no problem in general with the ‘hack-a’ strategy, I wonder if coaches and staffs are going too far.

Recently teams have found what some are calling ‘creative’ ways to go around the rules in order to take most advantage of the intentional fouling. I find those same antics extremely nefarious and abominable.

Do teams seriously have to fall back to those strategies?

Does Jeff Van Gundy have a point when he calls for an ultimate national televised catastrophe of teams hacking each other to death in order to regulate this strategy?

Take a look at three singular ways  the Sixers the Spurs and even the Rockets are using to master the “hack-a” maneuver:

First up the Sixers last night desperately trying to foul Andre Drummond, so much that Nerlens Noel goes for a ride on his back. You might remember Chris Paul doing exactly the same thing in the WCSF against the Rockets last year.

Then we have your Houston Rockets last week aiming for the same thing against Andre Drummond with 5 consecutive fouls by 3-year $10 Million contracted K.J. McDaniels within the first 10 seconds of the third quarter.

And then, last night the apex, the San Antonio Spurs fouling Clint Capela while he was out of bounds, something I’ve never even knew existed in the rule book.

Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t the NBA create innovative ways to prevent at least these bizarre situations?! Don’t you feel fooled, ridiculed that the NBA is allowing this?? I do.

I believe the league reached a point of no return, something must be done or those plays will become more and more frequent.

Perhaps a technical foul, something to protect the inbounder or the rebounder (in Drummond’s case). Take the fourth quarter ‘no intentional fouling in the last two minutes rule‘ and extend it to the other three quarters.

It’s silly, it’s detrimental and quite frankly a joke. It hurts me to see even the great San Antonio Spurs who easily dispatched the Rockets last night pull this kind of tomfoolery.

Free-Throws

The Houston Rockets are currently ranked 26th out of 30 teams in the NBA in free-throws percentage with 71.3%. In case you are wondering, the last one is obviously the Detroit Pistons.

Last night the Houston Rockets abused of their right to lose free-throws. They attempted 52 shots from the charity strip and knocked down only 35. Good for 67.3%

And while I can live with the inevitable missed free-throw by Dwight Howard (who surprisingly missed only one out of 8 attempts) or Clint Capela who was 3-for-10, I simply can’t accept Trevor Ariza and Ty Lawson going 2-for-4. And then there’s Josh Smith as well.

The Rockets unbelievably have three bad free-throw shooters on the squad, the adversaries can choose which one they wanna foul. And with all of them usually playing inside the paint, it makes more sense to foul them every time then let the players score the easy dunk or layup. 

That’s something Daryl Morey should address in the next free agency. Is it worth having so many bad free-throw shooters on one squad? It’s simply hurting the team so much. Currently the Rockets have 8 players scoring less than 70% of their free-throws. And 4 of those 8 players are registering less than 60%.

Care for a comparison? The Detroit Pistons, the last ranked team in FT% only has 3 players scoring less than 70%.

That’s revealing. And must be sorted out somehow. At the very least a shooting coach should be on staff

Assists, please?

Last night the San Antonio Spurs found a very effective way of limiting the Rockets offensive firepower. They did everything in their power to avoid Harden’s receipt of  the ball or when the team did get it to him the cut off his passing lanes and went to an extreme of giving him the drive to the basket instead.

The result: The Spurs and 34 assists and the Rockets? …. 14!

More from Space City Scoop

I know I’ve advocated in  favor of Ty Lawson recently, but honestly, he has done nothing to enhance the Houston Rockets offensive power nor the ball movement. Patrick Beverley is a defensive point guard who isn’t likely to add major passing skills suddenly. Now, Josh Smith is a good passer. but suffice to say the Rockets are short of options when Harden can’t create.

That’s why the Rockets recent statement that they are likely to keep Ty Lawson after the trade deadline is curious. Unless Houston have already given up any post season aspirations, the team must acquire a ball handler and passer. Ty Lawson was supposed to be this player but unfortunately it didn’t work.

Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the flawed experiment and try to move forward with someone else. There are reports that Jeff Teague is available. It’s unlikely the Hawks would take anything the Rockets could offer their way though. But,… that’s another thought for a different article.

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