Houston Rockets vs. Detroit Pistons: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Houston
After losing three straight games, Houston came out and dismantled the still winless Detroit Pistons, 96-82.
Though the win comes against a clearly inferior opponent, the Rockets took care of business—even though they weren't playing at the same level they were for the first two games of the season.
Also, make no mistake that this bout was important. Not only did this win put Houston back at .500, but it came in the midst of head coach Kevin McHale taking an indefinite leave of absence.
So at a time when the Rockets could have folded and succumb to—as well as accept the—reality that they were headed for an extensive losing streak, they didn't.
Which players stepped up and ensured a four-game losing streak wasn't an option?
Let's find out.
Jeremy Lin, Point Guard
Overall Grade: B
Jeremy Lin scored just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field, yet he helped set the tone early on with his prolific passing and stellar defense.
The point guard's shot wasn't falling, so he stopped looking for it, instead opting to set up his teammates and dishing out eight assists in the process.
Lin also manned the perimeter effectively. He grabbed just one steal but was extremely active, and his footwork was phenomenal; no one was passing Houston's prodigy Saturday night.
No, Lin didn't do much, but he pitched in where it was needed, helping himself to four rebounds and exhibiting superior ball protection.
Plus, when it's not your night, you need to realize you can't attempt to do too much.
Which Lin did, rendering his performance a sound, albeit relatively quiet, one.
James Harden, Shooting Guard
Overall Grade: B-
James Harden had another uneventful night. Well, uneventful compared to the bar he set early on anyway.
The high-scoring shooting guard jacked up just 14 shots all night, connecting on a respectable six of them. He was also 6-of-7 at the foul line and finished with 20 points overall. He added five rebounds and two assists as well.
Yet while Harden's night was understated, it was slightly disconcerting as well.
He wasn't making plays for his teammates like he normally does, and he committed five turnovers as a direct result of trying to force his offense when the lanes weren't open.
Part of being a superstar is picking your spots and not forcing the action. Harden has to let the offense come to him, especially on nights like this when he clearly isn't needed as much.
The $80 million man didn't move without the ball as effectively as you would have liked either. He relied too heavily on his teammates to set screens for him when he was on the ball, instead of making his defender work to stay with him.
His perimeter defense was spotty as well, and he wasn't as active in the passing lanes as he is normally is, failing to grab a single steal.
No, it wasn't a horrible night by any means, but Harden needs to become a more efficient two-way presence if he wishes to right Houston's ship anytime soon.
Chandler Parsons, Small Forward
Overall Grade: C+
We all expected better from Chandler Parsons.
Not only did the budding small forward shoot just 3-of-10 from the field, but he continues to live and die by the three-ball. He jacked up six attempts from beyond the arc and connected on just two.
What I did like, however, was that while he clearly didn't have it going on offense, he found other ways to contribute. He grabbed five rebounds and played spectacular defense; the Rockets posted a plus-12 with him on the floor, a higher mark than both James Harden and Jeremy Lin.
That said, Parsons really needs to become more of a consistent offensive player. His defense continues to be stellar, and he remains underrated for it.
But he simply cannot disappear on the other end of the floor.
Saturday night, he was able to get away with a poor shooting performance because it came against the Pistons.
Had this been another team, though—a competent team—his lack of production and execution would have been absolutely inexcusable.
Patrick Patterson, Power Forward
This was easily Patrick Patterson's worst performance of the season.
He shot just 1-of-5 from the field for two points, grabbed just two rebounds and earned just 16 minutes in a blowout victory.
That's a problem.
Though the big man has played some solid basketball this season, he continues to struggle on the defensive side of the ball. At 6'9" he needs to be more active on the glass—just 5.5 in 32 minutes per contest this season—and he's too prone to simply letting his man get around him.
Luckily for him, the Rockets didn't need him Saturday night.
Unfortunately for him, though, if he keeps this up we may see both Marcus Morris and Terrence Jones receiving even more playing time.
Omer Asik, Center
Overall Grade: B+
I don't care how mediocre Omer Asik's stat line was against the Pistons, the man played like a beast.
Not only did Asik shoot nearly 50 percent from the field—trust me, that's saying something—but he tied his career high in points score with 14.
That right there is an accomplishment–and a shocking one at that—in itself.
While I wanted to give Asik an "A," though, I just couldn't. He grabbed an unimpressive eight boards and turned the ball over four times.
To be honest, it's frustrating to watch him play, because you see potential for an aggressive center somewhere in there, but he just doesn't let it out enough.
Perhaps this game was a step in the right direction, though. He began to go up for dunks more ferociously and wasn't overpowered as much by his defender.
If he ever learns to balance his offense and defense on a consistent basis, he may live up to his contract yet.
Greg Smith, Sixth Man
Overall Grade: B-
Don't let Greg Smith's poor shooting performance fool you.
Yes, he put up just two shots and missed them both, but he grabbed four rebounds, dished out four assists, swiped a steal and blocked one shot in just 12 minutes of play.
Oh, and Houston posted a plus-20 with him on the floor as well.
That's probably the most effective 12 minutes of production you'll see from any member of the Rockets all season.
OK, maybe not, but you get my point.
Rest of Bench
Overall Grade: A
The Rockets' bench was simply amazing Saturday night.
As a collective, they outscored the Pistons bench, 45-27, and guys like Marcus Morris and Toney Douglas provided quality minutes.
We even got to catch a glimpse of Terrence Jones, and while it wasn't pretty, when he made his first three-point shot of the season, you couldn't help but get semi-excited.
It was just one of those nights for this relatively thin bench. They played great team defense, kept the ball moving on offense and put points on the board in bunches.
And this is exactly what Houston needs its role players to do moving forward.
If they wish to make a legitimate playoff push, that is.