Rockets tighten up enough in fourth to stop Pelicans

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Published: January 16, 2014

This is a little hard for me because it feels so much like last year.  I would watch games last season and just enjoy seeing different players develop and learn.  But this year the expectations were different.  Yes, there was going to be development and growth – but there was also going to be enough talent on the floor at the end of the fourth to make a game of it.  I was so ready for that.

Instead, due to injuries, I’m watching for growth again, not wins.  Sigh.

So let’s talk growth.

Anthony Davis’ offensive game is diverse.  Tonight he showed two nifty scores in the post, two long dribble drives, two catch and shoot mid-range shots off of curls, and a hard one-dribble pull up from the triple threat position.   The team got away from getting the ball to Anthony when he went down with the injury and came back, instead focusing on drives by the guards and kick outs to Anderson.  Sure, he was involved in a lot of pick and rolls, but he only got 3 touches a game I would say were legitimate plays for him to score.  With half the offensive firepower gone, he’s getting more touches, and this needs to continue even when Tyreke and Holiday come back.

The strangest part is watching Davis attack off the dribble.  He’s still learning how to finish and be effective at times, but he looks so damn awkward.  We once called Julian Wright “giraffe calf” because of the weird way his limbs seemed attached to the body and the odd angles in which they stuck out when he moved.  Davis is the ultimate giraffe calf.  He makes Julian Wright look pedestrian.  In a lot of ways.

Eric Gordon was phenomenal tonight going for 35 on 17 shots.  He did what everyone hoped for when he was signed and played some excellent hard-nose defense on Harden for a lot of the game.   He would have broken 40 but had one major issue:  for a long stretch of the second half, Davis and Smith were nailed to the bench with foul trouble.  The Rockets switched Parsons onto Gordon, and his long arms made it harder for Gordon to receive the ball, and then once the pick was set, the Rockets didn’t give a rats ass what the Pelican big man setting the pick did afterwards.  They (usually Terrence Jones) just stayed on Gordon, forcing him either away from the basket, or making him give up the ball.  Ajinca and Stiemsma are just not threats.  The Rockets decided to not worry about them.

Other Observations

  • On the first Pelicans play of the game, Monty ran a post up for Anthony Davis with the primary intent of getting Eric Gordon the ball off a cut or flare.  It worked well, but even better, four plays later when Davis posted up, the Rockets assumed it was the same play, and Davis spun and took it to the hole.  Good stuff.
  • Monty also ran four plays tonight that I saw that ended with Anthony Davis setting up for a corner three.  The ball never made its way to him, but I found that fascinating.
  • I know Roberts isn’t everyone’s favorite, but I liked what he was doing defensively on Lin tonight.
  • The Pelicans committed 34 fouls.  It’s so damn hard to win when doing that.  I remember six that I thought were just dumb.  Jason Smith can be so over-eager at times and just overextends.  Ajinca was the worst offender though.
  • Speaking of Jason Smith, HOLY CRAP that block in the first quarter on Parsons.
  • The Pelicans had two open looks at the end to tie the game – one on a wide open 17-footer from Smith and one a mostly open three pointer off a curl for Darius Miller.  Both plays were executed, the shots were just not knocked down.  So close.  Do you find 3 point losses like this one worse than beatdowns?
  • Miller played 30 minutes tonight and managed 2 points on 1-6 shooting.  His defense swung wildly from good to awful – like you’d expect any young NBA player.  I still love his passing, though.  The guy just has a high basketball IQ.
  • Rivers played solid defense, looks more comfortable out there, but still can’t hit a free throw and lacks touch on drives.  He’s got one of the prettiest crossovers in the league though.
  • You want to know why Miller played 30 minutes?  Morrow was out there for five and accomplished nothing but two fouls.  Aminu played okay, but had three really lazy passes.  After the third one, he didn’t re-enter the game.

Next game is Saturday against the Warriors.  Tyreke hopes to play.

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