This was supposed to be our night -- destiny dictated that the Hornets/Pelicans came out smoking -- hitting their shots, stealing Rockets passes, blocking shots, rebounding misses.
And yet, destiny decided to screw with us. We didn't get a win or anything close to it. What we get is this.
An overall domination by the Rockets -- except for a slight pulse near the end of the 1st half. Monty Williams said the team worked on their defense all practice long. Well, it takes a while before it sinks in. The Rockets scored 100 points on 91 possessions.
By now, you should know how horrible this game was to watch, especially the 2nd half. At one point, I was cursing at my pillow. Yes, my pillow. I GOT ANGRY AT MY PILLOW.
But, to be honest, it felt like it was just one of those nights. Seriously. I'll explain more in the bullet points.
I'll try to limit the carnage (for Oleh's sake):
- I'll start with all the bad ones. Vasquez was terrible tonight. I don't know if it was the weird outfit he had at the press conference yesterday, or maybe something he ate but he was just off. He couldn't out-muscle Lin, he didn't post him up as much as I expected. I'm sure he'll bounce back.
- Eric Gordon's line screams "good" game: 20 points on 14 shots. But I'm increasingly getting concerned with his playmaking ability. His past 4 games? 9 assists against 14 turnovers. And he had a couple of dumb passes today. He had one pass to Vasquez where GV wasn't looking (fortunately, GV was attentive enough to catch it), he also had a dumb jump pass off a pick-and-pop where Ryan Anderson decided to hang back instead of shoot to the 3PT line (where the pass was intended). I'm really hoping this is just a communication issue. I think it is. Hopefully.
- Defensively, I saw Eric Gordon doing a couple of things I don't necessarily agree with. One is bodying up Harden 30 feet from the basket. Another is going under the screen on most PnRs with Harden. He was able to keep toe-to-toe with Harden in isolation. But he needs to communicate better with the team if we are to slow down a scoring machine like Harden.
- To prove my point above -- Harden had 8 turnovers. A couple of those were in isolation, where Gordon was able to force him to the help (a good thing). But he still had 30 points -- most of which came from the PnR and transition where he was able to get to spaces he wanted to (middle of the floor), compromising the entire defense.
- I don't know if I've played against Monty in 2K13 but it seems like he's copied my substitution patterns -- some combination of starters with 6th man in the 1st, then full bench group in first 6 minutes of 2nd, sub in starters halfway through the 2nd. Rinse and repeat. The difference is that -- well, I have Anthony Morrow and Andre Miller off the bench. Also, I'm playing a video game.
- More to the point above, Monty should never leave the bench unit out there for longer than they need to play. I can understand the motivation to do that -- this season is a teaching season (in principle). And I understood why Monty did it in the 2nd half -- the starters allowed a 16-2 run to extend Houston's 4 point lead to an 18 point lead. But I didn't expect Anthony Davis to sit for 12 straight minutes and Eric Gordon for 8 minutes.
- More on Monty -- his defensive philosophy. At multiple points in the game, I screamed "I'd rather have Lin shooting the 3 than Delfino/Harden/Parsons/Morris". If we're going to give up 3s in favor of keeping the paint clean, let's be more aware about who we leave open. A guy who's making 38% of his 6.3 attempts?? Not a good idea. I hope they do something about this. Would rather have Lin shooting that 3 than Delfino.
- The above point was what opened this game up and kept the Hornets at bay during their mini-runs.
- Anthony Davis was having one great game. He was a disruptive force on defense -- good deflections here, good rotations there, a block and changed shot everywhere. I really hope Monty is limiting the Brow's minutes because he's trying to do a "Drummond" i.e. making him play great, one minute at a time. Hopefully, by March, AD is playing great 80% of the time he's on the court while playing 30+ minutes.
- Austin Rivers. It's sad that it has come to a point where a 3-11 game is already considered a "good game" for Austin. But it is. He was aggressive and unafraid -- qualities that allowed him to "excel" (lol) in Duke. The guy still can't go left but at least he's getting back his "swagger". Whatever that means.
- The one good thing I saw today? Ryan Anderson. He didn't allow his 0-5 3PT shooting to stifle his game. And most of them were actually good shots (by his standard). What was good was his 3 offensive rebounds and his 7 FTA. If a guy like Anderson can just get to the line for 2 FTs (where he's practically automatic), that would increase his efficiency even more than it already is.
- One other point on RyNo -- his spin move to hook. Ryan Anderson has one move he can make with great success -- fake, drive left, spin right, hook right. This is the beginning of something great. There's no denying that Ryan Anderson is a specialist -- his 3 PT shooting (volume + efficiency) is elite. But teams are starting to stick with Anderson (many times, I saw Patterson stick with Anderson despite Vasquez or Gordon getting a step on their man. A sound strategy especially with the long limbed and smart Asik backing him up). So a counter move worked wonders (allowed him to get 4 FTs by my count). The next step is executing this with efficiency i.e. enough reps that teams start considering it as a weapon. The next step after that is to develop a counter move to the counter move. But that's getting ahead of myself.
- I found it so funny that Aminu hits a 3 and the whole crowd goes wild. Then, Austin Rivers tempts him with a drive-and-dish again from the same spot where he made the first 3. He takes it. Next dead ball, Aminu is out. Learn to play within yourself. It's what's allowed us to win a lot of games.
- Also, an AMINU THREE?!
- Last thing -- Davis has extremely long arms. He caromed a rebound that was way beyond the range of a normal human being and he caught a badly attempted pass from Aminu that would have certainly been a turnover had it not been AD, he was also able to cover Asik on a roll, Lin on a drive and still steal the pass away. AD can jump high (his dunk from an Eric Gordon exemplifies it), he's quick (evidenced by his ability to always be the first or second guy on a fast break). Conclusion: Anthony Davis is not human.