Without James Harden—their leading scorer, best player and entire focal point of their fast-paced offense—the Houston Rockets fell to the Los Angeles Clippers by a score of 106-96. That final margin looks slimmer than the game really was, as the Rockets trailed from the opening tip, surrendering an astounding 46 points in the first quarter and 69 in the first half.
Six Rockets ended up scoring in double figures, even though most of their production was with the team trailing by over 10 points. Chandler Parsons led the way with 17 points, Jeremy Lin had 14 (but only two in the second half) and bench players James Anderson and Donatas Motiejunas combined to shoot 9-of-15 from the floor for 27 points.
Lin did the best he could in the first half, scoring 12 points on several impressive transition baskets at the rim. But with no James Harden, the incredible offensive responsibility weighed heavy on his shoulders. He had several ugly turnovers that led to instant points on the other end. In the second half, he was a non-factor, scoring two points.
Lin finished the game 4-of-12 from the floor in 34 minutes with seven assists and four turnovers.
Filling in for an injured James Harden, Delfino played 18 minutes in the first half. He made his first three-pointer but then missed his next five shots. In the second half, he was nowhere to be seen, scoring no points in just five minutes of action.
Delfino had two assists, two fouls, two steals and two turnovers in 23 total minutes. It was puzzling to see him get such little playing time, especially considering the Rockets could have used his three-point shot to get themselves back in the game.
Parsons attempted 11 shots in the first half, the most in the game. Unfortunately, he could only muster 11 points out of them. But he was aggressive, driving hard to the basket on several possessions and finding himself on the receiving end of a beautiful no-look pass by Jeremy Lin in transition.
He ended up leading the team in scoring with 17 points on 16 shots, but he missed all of his four three-point attempts and turned the ball over five times. Having Harden out of the lineup effected Parsons as much as anyone.
Patterson started the game but played just 14 minutes in the first half after finding himself in foul trouble early on. He scored four points on four shots and grabbed four boards too. Guarding Blake Griffin is difficult for anyone, including Patterson, and we found that out.
He ended the game with 12 points, but four of them came in garbage time after the contest was decided.
Despite thwarting several drives to the basket, Asik wasn't as significant a factor on the defensive end as Houston would've liked. The Clippers simply drove and kicked to the outside for wide-open three-pointers that they couldn't stop hitting in the first half.
Throughout the game, he set solid screens on offense for both Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons, but was his typical limited self with the ball in his hands, getting to the free-throw line several times on offensive putbacks. (He DID however hit a pretty turnaround baby hook over DeAndre Jordan for his first two points of the game.)
Asik finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
Morris had five points and three boards in the first half, playing one more minute than Patrick Patterson, who he backs up. In 29 total minutes, Morris scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds, but he missed four of the five three-pointers he attempted.
With Harden out—and normally their biggest offensive weapon from the bench inserted into the starting lineup—Houston's reserves struggled through the first three quarters. But James Anderson and Donatas Motiejunas gave positive production in their limited minutes, especially the rookie, who scored a career-best 13 points in 16 minutes.
Anderson had one more point to go along with six rebounds. Both were probably the best thing Rockets fans should take from this game.