The Houston Rockets hosted the Charlotte Bobcats Saturday night, and while the contest never felt completely in the Rockets’ control, it was a fourth-quarter runaway that gave them a 109-95 victory.
Before the final few minutes of the game, this one had been back and forth the whole way. The Rockets were the first team to establish momentum, as they made eight of their first 10 buckets. However, that hot start was quickly negated when their defense started allowing Charlotte to score in transition.
The first half was mostly in Houston’s favor, as it took an 11-point lead into halftime, but an ugly third quarter made this one interesting. The Rockets were outscored 17 to 26 in the period, and their one-time double-digit lead had been cut down to just two points heading into the fourth.
Charlotte stole the lead on the fourth quarter’s first possession, but Houston wasn’t done just yet. A 9-0 run midway through the period swung momentum back in its favor, and it was the brilliance of Patrick Patterson and James Harden that helped seal the deal.
As important as this win is for Houston, it’s unfortunately the status of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that everyone will be talking about moving forward. The spectacular rookie suffered an apparent head injury late in the game and was carted away following a long lapse of motionless time on the floor.
The Bobcats lost this game, but that’s going to be the last thing on their minds as they deal with the recovery of their first-round draft pick.
The last time the Houston Rockets played the Charlotte Bobcats, Jeremy Lin was completely ineffective. He finished the game 1-of-5 from the field with four points and three assists, and he played just 24 minutes.
This time around, Lin looked to have a bigger impact right from the get-go.
Lin was playing the role of facilitator in this one, and he did it well. By the end of the first quarter, the point guard had recorded five assists and two steals, and his energy was as high as anybody's on both ends of the floor.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, his production would slow down, and he would finish the game with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting to go with his eight assists.
The good part about Lin's showing, is that even though his game climaxed in the first, he was making smart decisions the entire game. He was taking advantage of poor defense with his drive-and-kick mentality, and he was finding open teammates throughout his 34 minutes on the floor.
If it's at all possible, James Harden had a relatively quiet night despite recording his first career triple-double.
Harden was quiet early, but quiet is fine as long as you're making smart decisions and playing efficient basketball. The 2-guard, who is known as one of the league's premier scorers, shot the ball just three times by the end of the first half.
Despite not scoring in the beginning, Harden ended up contributing late and finished the game with 21 points.He also recorded 11 rebounds and 11 assists. His floor vision was a key factor in Patrick Patterson earning so many good looks toward the end.
This was one of those all-around performances from Harden that shows he's more than just a scorer. It's not as if his shot wasn't falling throughout; he just simply was deferring to his teammates. His 6-of-11 shooting is great to see for fans in Houston, and his overall effort was crucial in getting this win.
Chandler Parsons was the man Saturday night to begin the contest.
Entering this game, the 24-year-old was averaging 14.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. He nearly eclipsed both of those marks in his 22 first-half minutes (19 PTS, 5 REB), and he went on to finish with 24 points and 10 boards.
Parsons found his points in different ways. His shot was falling, he was collecting loose balls and he was cutting to the basket while Jeremy Lin and James Harden looked his way.
Unfortunately for the forward, he was as guilty as anyone when it came to losing momentum in the third quarter. He, along with the rest of the starters went quiet and he wasn't able to find his stroke again until the final period.
When Parsons is feeling it offensively, his guards know where to get the ball. That's what happened throughout stretches against Charlotte, and that's why he finished as the game's leading scorer.
When the game was in question deep into the fourth quarter, the Houston Rockets gave the ball to Patrick Patterson and watched him take over.
About the midway point of the fourth quarter, Patterson helped the Rockets finally pull ahead for good. He had more than one timely three-pointer, and he was able to score in both catch-and-shoot and backdoor situations.
But this wasn't a game where Patterson's fourth-quarter performance came out of nowhere. His shot was falling the entire game, and he finished with 10-of-12 shooting from the field, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
From start to finish, Patterson was someone Houston could rely on. He didn't get the attention he deserved until he did it toward the end, but he was there the whole way, and his efficiency was a major key when it was all said and done.
Omer Asik will never be a primary option in the Houston Rockets' offense, but its times like Saturday night that you realize he can be a difference maker when the situation calls for it.
The center was scoring early in this one, and he was doing it in a multitude of ways. The big man was able to draw fouls, back his man down and cut backdoor for opportunities at the rim, and he was the second player on this roster to hit double digits.
The Charlotte Bobcats aren't great at defending the rim, and the Rockets took advantage of that all game long. Asik scored 19 points on 8-of-13 from the floor, and he's a big reason why Houston put up 58 points in the paint.
As expected, Asik was also big on the glass. He pulled down 15 rebounds and he blocked two shots in 38 minutes.
Toney Douglas was the most productive player off the bench Saturday night, which isn't saying much about the performance of the reserves.
The point guard shot just 3-of-11 from the field, including just 1-of-4 from long range. He finished the contest with seven points, three rebounds and one assist.
In 20 minutes, Douglas never made much of an impact, but that's because the team was getting good production from Jeremy Lin. The Rockets never needed to rely on Douglas the way they have in the past, and as a result, the backup got lost in the shuffle.
The problem is that his shot was completely broken. It's one thing to not be involved, but it's another thing to be completely inefficient.
Douglas was inefficient, and he hurt the Rockets at time because of it.
Toney Douglas may have been the only one to truly hurt the team off the bench, but everybody else was completely non-existent.
The Houston Rockets' other three reserves—Marcus Morris, Carlos Delfino and Cole Aldrich—combined for five points on 2-of-8 shooting. All five points belonged to Aldrich, and none of them managed to pull down more than one rebound or record more than one assist.
The only backup player to be in the positives when it came to the plus-minus category was Delfino. However, that number much more reflects the efforts of his teammates while he was on the floor, as he saw the fewest minutes of any reserve for both teams because of a strained right elbow.
Houston's starters played well, so it's not as if the team truly needed one of these players to step up. That being said, the third-quarter drought was a near turning point in this game, and if even one bench player had stepped up, a fourth-quarter surge might not have been necessary.