Houston Rockets Daily Rocket Science: Staying Alive

Mar 29, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives on Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives on Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

With only 7 games left in the Houston Rockets season the squad erased a 20 point deficit to notch a win in Cleveland and hang on to their eighth seed.

No doubt many in H-Town have long since abandoned trying to figure out this Houston Rockets team as they continue to be predictably unpredictable. Case in point, last night in Cleveland the team seemed lethargic from the tip before falling behind 20 points to the first place Eastern Conference Cavaliers. Further, coach J.B. Bickerstaff who has consistently avoided playing K.J. McDaniels suddenly inserted him for quality minutes to assist the team defensively… where has that been all season?

To wit, Space City Scoops own Curt Low wrote an intriguing article touching on how puzzling Bickerstaff’s rotations have been this season, calling for his dismissal once the season ends:

"“ Another player being under used by Bickerstaff’s ridiculous rotations is  . McDaniels has played so well on the defensive end that Bickerstaff deems it necessary to leave him out the rotation most nights. K.J. averages 5.8 minutes per game. When McDaniel’s is on the court the opponents offensive rating drops -14.0 points.” K.J. McDaniels"

Also picking up on how well the Rockets play with the addition of McDaniels in the line- up was Josh Reese of The Dream Shake in his article: K.J. McDaniels is the Rockets’ Secret Weapon.

"“ When they go super small, it causes so many mismatches that other teams have a hard time keeping up. With a big, McDaniels and three guards the Rockets can fly up and down the court. The offense is spread out and James Harden can go to work.”"

Another player Low felt wasn’t being utilized well was Montrezl Harrell. He’ll have to wait to see if Bickerstaff decides to utilize the big man following his poor decision to push an NBA D-League official which is costing him a 5 game suspension without pay. This incident further highlights how many issues the team has suffered on and off the court this season.

Yahoo Sports reported the incident (as SCS also did here) also noting Derek Cooke who was the player who initiated the contact also received a suspension, but his one game absence showcases how much more severe Harrell’s treatment of an NBA official is viewed by the Association.

"“ forward has been suspended five games without pay in the NBA Development League for pushing a referee to the floor during an altercation. Also, Bakersfield forward Derek Cooke Jr. was suspended one game without pay for pushing Harrell during the skirmish in a game Saturday.” Houston Rockets Montrezl Harrell"

Looking ahead to next year USA Today reports the Houston Rockets will return to China for two preseason games in the preseason:

"“The teams will play Oct. 9 in Shanghai, followed by a game in Beijing on Oct. 12. The Rockets are popular in China because of Yao Ming, who starred for them from 2002-11. They played in Shanghai, Yao’s hometown, in 2004.”"

Finally, the big come back win in Cleveland highlights two facts that are glaring:

One: if the Houston Rockets do make the playoffs exactly how fatigued is James Harden going to be?  He’s once again leading the NBA in minutes per game usage and has to be getting tired. In the win versus the Cavaliers he logged 44 minutes!

.@JHarden13 was cookin' tonight! 18 of his 27 points were scored in the 4th quarter.

Two: Could Michael Beasley and his mid range game be the best late season pick-up? He sure is making a case for that point, and he’s likely giving Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey pause for thought given his penchant for analytics and the Rockets utilizing threes, lay-ups or dunks strategy!

Beas does it again! Another great night off the bench finishing with 17 points & 8 rebounds.

Speaking of fatigue the other player the fan base is worried about is Trevor Ariza who has once again been tasked with guarding the opponents top player nightly:

Ariza grade
Ariza grade /

Don’t miss SCS own Andre Cantalogo‘s full article  which provides a quick game recap and player grades for all the starters, best reserve and best opponent.

Suffice to say, with just 7 games remaining and a slim half game lead over the Mavericks the next 2 weeks will offer plenty of nail biting as Clutch City await the final outcome of their hometown team. The next 3 games offer the greatest challenges as a desperate Bulls team, extremely hot Thunder squad and the team chasing them (the Mavericks) are on tap. The final 4 games will offer an opportunity to amass a win streak to finish the season with non playoff teams (the Suns, Lakers, T-Wolves and Kings) and only the Minnesota game occurring on the road.

One thing we know for certain about this Rockets squad is they won’t make it simple for themselves and unless they suddenly change direction they’ll keep us guessing with their inconsistency right up until the final game.

That’s if for today’s version of Daily Rocket Science, stick with Space City Scoop throughout the day for our updates, game articles and opinions on all things Houston Rockets.

Next: Rockets and Raptors Reversal of Fortune

Next: Should Rockets Tank?

Next: Bickerstaff's Puzzling Rotations

Next: 5 Players Rockets Should Target

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