October 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson (6) celebrates the 120-114 victroy as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) walks off the court following the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
All preseason the Houston Rockets preached how they were committed to both ends The loss to the Lakers in the season opener should serve as a reminder to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
James Harden showed up to showcase his passing skills early, dishing 14 first half assists. As expected offense wasn’t the problem and perhaps the Rockets fell victim to playing down to their competition. In the end, the Rockets got what they deserved (a loss) for allowing a young team with nothing to lose to stick around.
If you listened to the pundits and analysts heading into the regular season it was a common opinion the Rockets would suffer on defense. More concisely, that the Rockets wouldn’t make the effort on defense or didn’t have the manpower to succeed. Throughout the preseason the Rockets players delivered the message they were committed and were keen to perform.
Those messages went out with the dish water last night, and certain players did nothing to silence the critics. Ryan Anderson and Corey Brewer were particularly bad. And while there were moments of man on man defensive stands the team on a whole simply didn’t communicate.
Additionally no effort was made to stop the Lakers in transition. Although the LA squad did hit some well defended perimeter shots the overall defensive effort should keep Jeff Bzdelik busy for hours reviewing film.
Next: Starting 5 Player Grades
Next: Best Reserve, Best Opponent, Coach
Mike D’Antoni: part of the blame has to fall on D’Antoni’s shoulders for the decisions he did or didn’t make.
- McDaniels should have started
- D’Antoni took one time in the first quarter at 7:20. When it was obvious no one was communicating defensively or attempting any semblance of defense he should have called another immediate time-out to sell the point. To reiterate the Rockets lost this game int he first quarter by playing the style the Lakers wanted, at their pace and worse allowed them to gain confidence.
- Even if McDaniels didn’t start there was no reason not to insert him for more minutes given Corey Brewer was brutal on both ends of the court.
- Allowing teams to shoot over 50% is unacceptable unless it’s the Warriors and everyone is having a highly efficient night. Again, D’Antoni should have burnt more time out early and kept calling them until the players on the court got the message.
I’d give D’Atoni a D for this night’s game because he had the ability to stop the bleeding early and chose not to.
Next: Final Thoughts
While the box score shows Houston lost the game in the fourth quarter, the reality is the Rockets lost the game in the first quarter. Specifically in the first frame Houston allowed the Lakers unfettered access all over the court resulting in 38 points. If nothing else this game serves as a painful reminder not to get too arrogant because giving a young team confidence will come back to bite you.
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In fact, the Houston Rockets allowed the Lakers to play their game, at their speed which any veteran team knows better than. In the second half the younger Lakers legs won the marathon hitting shots and out scoring the Rockets by 12 points (30-18). Houston’s perimeter shot was particularly bad in the second half as they connected on a single three point shot out of the 16 they attempted.
Now the Rockets will travel to Dallas to face a team who is desperate for their first win having lost their own shoot out in overtime to Indy. Harden will need to regroup the squad and instead of talking the talk about being “all in” defensively, they’ll need to walk the walk.
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Next up the Rockets play a home and home series versus the Mavericks. Friday the first of the two games is on the road in Dallas with the tip at 8:30PM ET. In preparation, check out the team previews as per the above links.