Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Postgame Grades, Analysis for Houston
This wasn't the prettiest game of the 2012-13 season, but it was certainly entertaining.
The Rockets turned the ball over more and were out-rebounded by the Cavaliers, but they were able to score down the home stretch in the fourth quarter, and that much can't be said about the Cavs.
Kyrie Irving did all he could, with 30 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals—but in the end it wasn't enough to overcome the Rockets.
The real difference maker was Harden's ability to get to the free-throw line instead of continuing to put up jumpers that he was consistently missing. Harden went 14-of-15 from the charity stripe, and it's how he was able to score 29 points while shooting just 35.3 percent from the floor.
It was truly a team effort for the Rockets though, as they got significant production from both their starting lineup and second unit.
Check out the complete grades and analysis for the Rockets in their 112-104 win over the Cavaliers.
Point Guard: Jeremy Lin
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Jeremy Lin carried the Rockets for the majority of the first three quarters in this one.
With James Harden and Chandler Parsons struggling from the floor throughout, Lin brought efficiency and facilitation to the court for the Rockets. And that was exactly what they needed from him.
The one thing that held Lin back, as it has throughout his career, was his tendency to turn the ball over. He committed four turnovers, which wasn't terrible. But it seemed like every turnover led to a Cavaliers swing.
Lin also committed some undisciplined fouls, specifically near the end of the game on Kyrie Irving. Committing four turnovers and five personal fouls isn't necessarily a stellar night for Lin.
Irving also had quite a night against Lin, with 30 points and six assists. While Lin's defense isn't all to blame here, there's no doubt that he didn't do near enough to stop Irving from nearly taking the game over at the end of this one.
Lin ended the night with 20 points, five assists and four rebounds, which was good enough to help the Rockets sneak out of Cleveland with the win.
Shooting Guard: James Harden
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With 45 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Harden sank a fade-away 22-footer to give the Rockets a five-point lead .
That goes to show that even when Harden isn't shooting 50-plus percent, he's still a lethal option from anywhere on the court. Harden ended the night shooting 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and 35.3 percent from the floor.
He got to the line 15 times, and made 14 free throws though, which helped make up for his inefficient shooting performance.
With 14 points in the fourth quarter, Harden came on strong just when the Rockets needed him to.
Defensively speaking, Harden was a revelation. He ended the night with seven steals and a block, which helped solidify the Rockets down the stretch.
Much like his backcourt partner Lin, Harden was held back by turning the ball over at an unimpressive rate, with five turnovers on the night. When Harden isn't shooting the ball efficiently, he absolutely must protect the ball, and he didn't do that at all times throughout the night.
Luckily for the Rockets, Harden turned on his inner MVP in the fourth quarter and became the All-Star he's been throughout the season, ending the night with 29 points, seven steals, three assists and two rebounds.
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons
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Chandler Parsons' performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers was underwhelming to say the least—with seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
He scored seven points, shot 22.2 percent from the floor and he committed three turnovers. Too many of those kinds of performances and Parsons could find himself coming off the bench instead of in the starting lineup in favor of Carlos Delfino.
The one thing that Parsons did effectively was defend on the wing. While Alonzo Gee went off for 18 points, Parsons did all he could to make sure those 18 points were hard to get.
Shooting 1-of-5 from the three-point line is what hurt Parsons because it kept him from getting into any kind of rhythm from the floor.
Shockingly enough, Parsons didn't commit a single personal foul. Maybe he has LeBron's record of 254-straight minutes without a personal foul in his sights. Either way, Parsons needs to find his stroke soon, or he could find himself on the bench.
Power Forward: Marcus Morris
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Marcus Morris had a solid performance against the Cavaliers, ending the night with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists on 50-percent shooting.
The best part of Morris' performance was that he didn't turn the ball over—aside from one errant pass—and he didn't commit any personal fouls.
On both sides of the ball, Morris was a picture of efficiency and that was at the foundation of the Rockets' success against the Cavaliers.
The one thing that holds Morris back is that his production comes mainly from outside of the paint. He needs to be more physical in the paint, specifically on the glass.
Morris has some serious competition for the starting power forward spot, from Patrick Patterson and Greg Smith. He needs to continue to become more dominant in the post, or one of the above mentioned players could take over his starting spot.
He did his job against the Cavaliers though, and that helped the Rockets get the win.
Center: Omer Asik
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It's shocking that a guy who's 7' and 255 pounds couldn't score more than four points against the Cavaliers.
Omer Asik played just 21 minutes, due to foul trouble, and that certainly hurt the Rockets against a Cavaliers team that is productive in the paint.
The Cavaliers ended the night with 48 of their 104 points coming from the paint, and that was in large part because of Asik's absence.
Asik needs to be a more disciplined player so that he can have a larger impact on the court for the Rockets. Without him at the center position, the Rockets are a completely different team—with a much smaller lineup—and that's not where they thrive.
While the Rockets got the win, Asik gets the lowest grade of the night because his absence in the paint made this one more competitive than it needed to be.
Sixth Man: Patrick Patterson, PF
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Patrick Patterson proved that he's worthy of being inserted back into the starting lineup for the Rockets, with 15 points and six rebounds in just 26 minutes of action.
There were times when Patterson got a little excited, jacking up three balls early in the shot clock. While it had a chance to hurt the Rockets, it ultimately didn't.
Patterson was the spark off the bench that the Rockets desperately needed, especially when James Harden was struggling early on.
His fiery performance seemed to spark the rest of the Rockets early on.
The defensive focus that the Cavaliers had to put on Patterson opened up the floor for Harden and Jeremy Lin, which ultimately was the deciding factor in the Rockets' win.
Without Patterson's production off the bench, the Rockets would've fallen behind the Cavaliers and would've had a hard time recovering. Kudos to Patterson for being the Rockets' emotional spark.
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The surprise of the night off the Rockets bench was Greg Smith's perfect performance.
He ended the night with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and he did that without missing a single shot from the floor.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers found his weakness, which is shooting free throws. Smith shot just 1-of-5 from the charity stripe. Smith also committed five personal fouls, which limited his time on the court.
Aside from Smith's impressive performance, Patrick Patterson and Carlos Delfino put together solid numbers, combining for 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Above all else, the Rockets' second unit brought efficiency to the floor, shooting 58.6 percent from the floor on the night. What's even better is that as a unit, they only turned the ball over four times—which is the game total for Jeremy Lin alone.
The Rockets are proving to have one of the most productive and effective benches in the NBA, and tonight was a perfect example of just that.