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Houston Rockets fail to take advantage of rested legs losing to Hawks – Player Grades

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts after a foul call against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts after a foul call against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts after a foul call against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts after a foul call against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts after a foul call against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets entered the game in Atlanta on 2 full days rest, but their lack of defensive effort ultimately cost them the win versus their former center Dwight Howard and his Hawks.

. 97. 169. 112. 125

In what was billed as the offensive juggernaut Houston Rockets versus the defensive minded Atlanta Hawks the game did not live up to that billing. At least in terms of the defensive part of the game. Atlanta allowed 59 first half points and the Rockets to shoot 48.8% from the field (42.1% from deep).

Ultimately this loss either goes on the team for not playing any defense or on D’Antoni for:

a) not pushing the pace right from the start to tire out the Hawks who played last night or

b) not driving the paint to get Howard and Millsap in foul trouble

I know it’s the Rockets identity to shoot threes, but this became almost like an exercise in jacking them up repeatedly regardless of whether they were the best option. In all the Rockets hoisted up 34 three point attempts and though they were successful in the first half (9 of 20) the second half it proved to be a far less useful tool as they hit only 3 of their next 16.

Perhaps it was unfair to expect the Rockets to garner this victory just because the Hawks were playing on a back to back. But, since the Hawks chose not to defend at all in the first half why not try something novel and be the team who does.

Here’s your player grades for the night:

Next: The Beard falls just short of a triple - double

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Point Guard. . James<br /> Harden. B+. It was clear James Harden had extra motivation from the tip. In fact his half time numbers were one assist shy of a double-double (24 points/9 assists). That said, his obvious desire to best his former teammate also resulted in several forced passes. Harden was fortunate not to have more turnovers given how much he forced the play. All Rockets fans knew Harden was special, but some of his passes are so spectacular it almost seems like the game plays in slow motion for him. <p>With the Hawks leading by double digits Harden simply took over and by the half had pulled Houston within 6. Shortly after the Rockets took the court after the half he had 12 assists and the Rockets were right back in the game. The problem was that was the point the Hawks turned up the heat and took over the game. Harden had no more assists for the remainder of the game and failed to score in the final frame. By night’s end he had 30 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds.</p> <p>In spite of these ridiculous stats, he still needs to watch the turnovers as he registered 6 on the night. I know almost getting a triple-double should merit an A, but those turnovers and not pushing the pace right from the start to take away the Hawk’s will ultimately falls on Harden (and D’Antoni’s game plan).</p>

Next: Tough night at the office

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) drives on Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 112-97. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Sure was a tough night for Gordon who up until this game has looked like the better signing of the two Pelicans. Sometimes a player gets shackled with a tag of being a certain type of performer. This seemed to be the case with Gordon tonight as he was unlucky with a few calls. It’s true he isn’t the best defender on the floor, but I point you to 9:30 of the second quarter when Gordon closed out on Korver chasing him off the line and then forced him to cough up the ball. <p>He’s not perfect, but he’s much better than I originally thought. And while he had a tough night overall you have to give him credit for fighting. When your shooting guard is getting 3 blocks which were half of the team total that speaks to his effort.</p> <p>In the end Gordon simply had a poor shooting night, but tough to be too hard on him given how well he’s played to this point in the season. 9 points, 2 assists, 2 rebound, 3 blocks.</p>. Shooting Guard. . Eric<br /> Gordon. C

Next: Chasing the rabbit

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) shoots the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor<br /> Ariza. C+. Ariza drew the assignment of guarding Korver or whoever was hottest at the moment as I also saw him spend time on Millsap, Bazemore, Schroder and even Howard. Suffice to say it was a long night at the office for Ariza who was in constant motion chasing Korver or being bodied when matched against the larger front court players. <p>If Anderson could have guarded Millsap things would have been a lot easier, but like I said in my game day Paul Millsap truly is an under appreciated player on both ends of the floor. 10 points, 3 rebounds (all in the late stages of the game which tells you how much he was kept running), 2 assist, 1 steal and 1 block</p>. Small Forward.

Next: The one-way player

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) reaches for a loose ball past forward Paul Millsap (4) and Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) and forward Ryan Anderson (3) in the first half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 112-97. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

If it weren’t for his early threes and scoring he would have got an Z. I mean if I knew enough to say D’Antoni shouldn’t put him on Paul Millsap then shouldn’t D’Antoni? Six of the Hawks first nine points came from Millsap courtesy of no defense from Ryno. Brutal, absolutely brutal defense. Factor in Anderson had only 2 rebounds and that pretty much sums up his output. Yes he hit 4 three pointers but all in the first half. <p>And, if you think I’m being too hard on Anderson, I call you to check out the picture above and note how he’s standing watching the play – a frequent stance of his on defense.</p><div class=. Power Forward. . Ryan<br /> Anderson. F

Perhaps he’ll come around when he understands the defense better and I’m sure there will be nights when he absolutely lights teams up, but until he provides at least a modicum of defense the starting unit will have a hard time defending. 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers.

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F

If it weren’t for his early threes and scoring he would have got an Z. I mean if I knew enough to say D’Antoni shouldn’t put him on Paul Millsap then shouldn’t D’Antoni? Six of the Hawks first nine points came from Millsap courtesy of no defense from Ryno. Brutal, absolutely brutal defense. Factor in Anderson had only 2 rebounds and that pretty much sums up his output. Yes he hit 4 three pointers but all in the first half.

And, if you think I’m being too hard on Anderson, I call you to check out the picture above and note how he’s standing watching the play – a frequent stance of his on defense.

Perhaps he’ll come around when he understands the defense better and I’m sure there will be nights when he absolutely lights teams up, but until he provides at least a modicum of defense the starting unit will have a hard time defending. 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 turnovers.

Next: Master versus Student

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) grabs the ball from Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Up until the fourth quarter the student had got the better of the master, but that changed quickly with Howard taking the match-up. At one point Howard literally just shoved Capela out of the way and although Howard was on the wrong end of a call for a clean block on KJ McDaniels he got away with his share of nonsense under the bucket. <p>Remembering this is just Capela’s third season and first as a starter there is ample reason for optimism. Clint still needs to learn the little nuances of besting his counterparts and as he adds size he’ll only improve. 12 points, 10 rebounds , 1 steal. BUT those 5 turnovers cost him some points in his grade.</p>. Center. . Clint Capela. B-

Next: 'The Block'

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) fouls Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) in the first half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 112-97. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A-. I’m a huge fan of K.J. McDaniels and apparently so are the zebras who called Dwight Howard for a foul on a block he made on McDaniels. Then again if you look at the above picture you get a clear view of the elbow that was planted on KJ’s face by Dwight. <p>KJ entered the game and does what he does… instant energy and improved defense. He made some solid plays in his minutes and continues to showcase growth with added versatility. 13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block and was the only player who was on the floor longer than 2 minutes with a positive differential +3</p> <p>Here’s a thought, maybe D’Antoni should consider playing KJ even more minutes since he definitely ups the defensive capability of the team. In fact, if I were D’Antoni I’d consider starting KJ so Gordon can feast on the opposing teams bench units.</p>. Small Forward. . KJ<br /> McDaniels

Next: The Sophomores

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets forward Montrezl Harrell (5) and guard James Harden (13) box out Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 112-97. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

C+. He adds energy and will get you some garbage buckets, but he also is prone to committing silly fouls. Tonight I didn’t think he offered a positive energy as he made some poor choices. Still at least he’s scrappy and tries. 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers. Power Forward. . Montrezl Harrell

C. Here’s the thing, you can see the potential for this kid. Still, I found myself annoyed by his inability to hit wide open shots. Tyler Ennis could have had 3 or 4 assists on his own if Dekker had simply delivered on the spot on passes he received. Yes he’s really playing more of a rookie season given his back injury last year, but he needs to be more forceful and confident. Yet, it’s hard to argue the bevy of goodies he delivered: 3 points, 4 rebounds (2 offensive), 3 assists 1 steal in just 17 minutes.. Small Forward. . Sam Dekker

Next: He played?

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts after a foul call against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

D-. He played? No seriously. Even the photographer was unaware as there were no photos taken of Brewer in the game! <p>1 assist, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, was 0 for 3 from the field (including 2 open three point attempts) and a minus 7 in 15 minutes.</p> <p>Note to Daryl Morey – – please trade this guy, he needs a new team because he certainly isn’t offering the type of production which made him so useful in the first year he arrived.</p>. Shooting Guard. . Corey Brewer

Next: Nene

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets center Nene Hilario (42) is defended by Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

C+. After a game night off and several nights of rest the big man looked somewhat rejuvenated and was the first guy on the court to turn the tide on the boards. His 4 offensive rebounds stood out. <p>He wasn’t particularly successful on the offensive end, but he did manage to halt both Millsap and Howard while he was pitted against them. 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block in 12 minutes. Not sure why his minutes were limited to 12 unless there is an injury we aren’t aware of. Also, he was far more successful on defense than his plus/minus (-8) reflects.</p><div class=. Center. . Nene Hilario

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C+

After a game night off and several nights of rest the big man looked somewhat rejuvenated and was the first guy on the court to turn the tide on the boards. His 4 offensive rebounds stood out.

He wasn’t particularly successful on the offensive end, but he did manage to halt both Millsap and Howard while he was pitted against them. 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block in 12 minutes. Not sure why his minutes were limited to 12 unless there is an injury we aren’t aware of. Also, he was far more successful on defense than his plus/minus (-8) reflects.

Next: Old school point

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney (5) shoots a layup against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

C-. I’d love to see Tyler Ennis play more minutes with Eric Gordon (yeah I think that is on a loop – ie you’ve heard me spout it before). As mentioned above, Ennis delivered some quality passes to open players who didn’t translate them into buckets. <p>Minutes for Ennis have come in short supply, but tries to make the best of his time on the court and I”d like to see D’Antoni utilize him more as he constantly demonstrates an ability to move the offense along without getting rattled. His touch pass to the trailing Clint Capela was one of the night’s highlights (second quarter at 7:13). 2 points, 2 rebounds in 7 minutes.</p> <p>Don’t laugh, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ennis ended up in Philly and excelling there.</p>. Point Guard. . Tyler Ennis

Next: Closing Thoughts

Nov 5, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In the end the game was a winnable affair that was lost by poor execution and a bad game plan. Why D’Antoni chose to not utilize the paint as an option was beyond me. Ever intelligent Mike Budenholzer adjusted at the half to defend the perimeter. So, when the three’s stopped falling it’s  also a mystery why D’Antoni didn’t expect it, or make Houston’s own adjustment.

Ultimately Howard once again got the better of his old team in their first meeting just like he did versus the Magic and Lakers.  we’ll see if that’s the case in February when he travels with his Hawks to the Toyota Center.

The game was there to be had, but the Rockets failed to take advantage of their benefits or the fact the Hawks played out of character allowing Houston to shoot 50% from the field in the first half.

By night’s end the stats told the story. Beyond the 3 for 16 from three point land I draw your attention to one stat that jumps off the page:  TWENTY FIVE — that’s how many turnovers the Rockets committed.

More from Space City Scoop

Other ridiculous numbers showcase the absence of any Houston Rockets defense via these Hawks stats:

  • 29 assists
  • 16 steals
  • 52.9% field goal percent
  • 40.0% three point field goal percent

Houston’s next game finishes this long 5-game road trip as they travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Monday.

Next: Is impasse with Motiejunas over?

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