Yes, we confirm, it's a beard.
Both the Rockets and Nets played Friday night, but the pace of the game was surprisingly fast for two teams that should have been a bit fatigued. James Harden and the Rockets won the marathon, though, as five Rockets finished in double figures. Let us further analyze the Rockets' performance Saturday night with player grades.
Jeremy Lin struggled with his shot and turned it over a good bit. He shot just 5-of-14 from the floor.
Deron Williams had a huge night, but most of his damage was done early on to Toney Douglas.
Lin did some things very well. He distributed the ball and had nine assists, and he hit 2-of-4 from three (despite being 28 percent from three on the season).
Lin's six turnovers and 35 percent shooting would ordinarily earn a failing grade, but he effectively drove a very good Rockets offense.
However, Lin will earn a passing grade because he moved the ball well and had confidence taking shots he needs to take moving forward. Each game is a learning process for Lin, who is still just over 100 games into his NBA career.
James Harden earned his first All-Star bid and then came out Saturday night and further showed why he deserved it.
The way James Harden diversifies his offense is a thing of beauty. Utilizing step-back jumpers, dribble penetration and working the pick-and-roll, Harden was able to post an efficient line of 7-of-15 from the floor, 2-of-5 from three-point range and 13-of-14 from the charity stripe. Perhaps most impressive of all, despite his high usage rate, Harden had no turnovers at all.
A brilliant offensive game combined with holding Joe Johnson to 5-of-14 shooting is enough to earn a perfect score.
If the 2011 NBA draft were done over today, Chandler Parsons would have to be a top-five pick. He's continued to get better and better and was drafted No. 38 overall by the Rockets.
Parsons has improved in every facet of the game in his second year, and Saturday night was a great demonstration of what he is capable of doing in an all-around sense.
Parsons posted 16 points, dished 11 assists and snagged six boards. His plus/minus was the highest of any Rocket, as the team was plus-28 with Parsons on the court.
The time isn't here yet, but Parsons could develop into the kind of talent to make a few All-Star Games before his career is over, and his shooting Saturday night was deft, as he hit 7-of-11 from the floor, including 6-of-8 in the first half. Parsons did most of his damage, including 10 of his 11 assists, in the first half, as he and the Rockets outscored Brooklyn 34-20 in the second quarter.
Patrick Patterson was coming off an 18-point, 13-rebound performance last Friday night (Jan. 25) against New Orleans. That performance must have taken it out of Patterson because he followed one of his best games of the year up with a very quiet night.
Patterson hit 3-of-7 form the floor en route to seven points, and he grabbed just two rebounds. He did have an impressive ball fake along the baseline that looked reminiscent of former Houston legend Hakeem Olajuwon, but one impressive play does not make a game.
Patterson didn't play particularly bad, he was just not as involved as he could have been. He did do a decent job of keeping Reggie Evans off the offensive glass though (Evans had just two offensive rebounds).
Grade: C -
Omer Asik boldly said, "I was snubbed for the All-Star Game too!" with his play. OK, so that is a bit of an overstatement, but Asik could be an All-Star one day, particularly if he turns in more games like Saturday night.
Commentators in previous game grades I've done have expressed repeated frustration that Omer Asik doesn't dunk the ball enough when he tries to finish off plays.
Saturday night, it seemed like Asik may have heard that lament. He threw it down a few times more than usual, which enabled him to go 9-of-12 from the floor en route to 20 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
The only thing Asik hasn't done as a Rocket that we may have hoped he would is block shots, but the Rockets have come to the conclusion that they will have to bring in a shot-blocker to augment their defensive efforts either via trade or free agency.
Asik played with a lot of energy, played hard and he gave Brook Lopez headaches all night. Lopez outscored Asik with 21 points, but did nowhere near the job on the boards, and Lopez scored nine of his 21 points in the latter half of the fourth quarter while Asik was on the bench.
Carlos Delfino played a very good game off the Rockets bench. He shot the ball very well (5-of-9 form the floor, 3-of-5 from three-point range), chimed in defensively with a couple of steals and had five rebounds.
Delfino was the only bench player in the contest to score in double figures, and he had seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, as the Rockets outscored the Nets 30-26 in the period to close out the game.
Marcus Morris and Greg Smith both did excellent jobs off the bench. Morris had the second-highest rebounds on the Rockets with 10 (five offensive), and Greg Smith came in and put down a few easy looks to go 3-of-3 from the floor while also hitting 3-of-4 from the stripe.
Toney Douglas provided a nice spark off the bench and hit a pair of threes. Patrick Beverley, Cole Aldrich and James Anderson all saw a minute of garbage time, as the Rockets delivered the dagger with about two minutes to go.