The NBA regular season finally tipped off for the Houston Rockets last night; however, their opener was not the way that the team imagined they would begin the new campaign.
From the opening tip, the New Orleans Pelicans were a step ahead of the Houston Rockets.
Anthony Davis and Julius Randle outmuscled the Rockets for much of the night, Nikola Mirotic could not miss a three, and Houston’s offense looked stagnant for much of the night.
At the end of the night, the Pelicans ran the Rockets out the gym in a 131- 112 rout. Let’s look over the positives of the evening before we get into what all went wrong for the team in the opener.
Next: The Positives
In a night of dreadful offense, P.J Tucker was the only consistent player on offense for Houston. Tucker finished the night with 19 points on 4/7 from 3. Tucker was active on defense, forced a few turnovers, and was as reliable as always from the corner.
Without Tucker, an already lopsided score would have been even worse.
Eric Gordon did a good job at slashing, driving, and finishing in the paint. He finished with a team-high in points with 21.
James Harden was a rebound away from a triple-double but still struggled, shooting 6/15 overall.
In his debut, Carmelo Anthony provided a spark off the bench in the first quarter, as he had a sequence to begin his Rockets career which started with a contested mid range jumper, a spectacular box out that left a Pelicans player on the floor and a 3 point basket which filled the Toyota Center with energy.
Next: The Negatives
Outside of the opening sequence for Carmelo Anthony, he was not much of a factor in the game, and struggled, like every other Rocket, to guard Anthony Davis and Julius Randle. Anthony committed a few lousy fouls which led to and-one opportunities for New Orleans.
In the offseason, Clint Capela signed a $90 million extension to remain with the Rockets, and though that extension was well deserved, Capela did not play like a max caliber player.
He was outmatched in every facet of the game by Anthony Davis. There were multiple times where Davis blocked Clint Capela at the rim and many more where he altered his shots. Capela missed too many layups, and like most Rockets, had a terrible game to begin the new campaign.
As mentioned earlier, Julius Randle and Anthony Davis manhandled the Rockets every way possible in yesterday’s game. The Pelicans, to begin with, did not miss many shots, but when they did, the Rockets struggled to secure the defensive rebounds, leading to too many tip-in and second-chance opportunities for the Pelicans.
Next: The Horrendous
All offseason, there was a belief that the Rockets would regress on defense because of the losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute.
Yesterday’s performance will certainly reinforce those beliefs as the Rockets defense was abysmal for the entire night.
The Rockets gave up 71 points at halftime, and 131 in total. Their defense was the epitome of horrendous last night.
They could not get back on transition and allowed way too many Anthony Davis alley oops too occur.
The Rockets gave up too many open threes to the Pelicans. Though, New Orleans deserves credit. Their offense looked very smooth and moved well to the open shooters.
The Rockets could not stop Nikola Mirotic from hitting a 3 if their life depended on it last night. Mirotic finished with 30 points on 6 3s for the night, and his only two misses were on open shots.
Michael Carter-Wiliams Shooting Threes
Mike D’Antoni’s philosophy on offense is simple, if you are open then let it fly.
For Michael Carter-Williams however, his threes were not a pretty sight, and most of the ones he took, were not close to falling at all. Albeit he did make one, Carter-Williams may want to hold off on letting his threes fly.
It was not a great start to the year for the Rockets. However, it is, in fact, just the start of the season. There is still plenty of time to work on things that went wrong and I’m sure that a talented team like Houston will be able to figure it all out. Next game is Saturday night against LeBron James and the Lakers!