In a battle between two Western Conference foes on the brink of the postseason, the Memphis Grizzlies outlasted the Houston Rockets by a score of 103-94. Memphis led for a majority of this game, but took complete control during the third quarter.
The question is, how did the Rockets let this one slip away?
This is not to sell the Grizzlies short, as they played at an elite level on both ends of the floor. With that being said, the Rockets put on one of their worst performances of the season on both ends of the floor.
When it all comes down to it, that's a direct result of a culmination of individual shortcomings.
Overall Grade: C-
Minutes Played: 23
Stat Line: 8 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3-of-9 FG
No one will debate that Jeremy Lin should have seen playing time during the fourth quarter. With that being said, no one in their right mind will debate that Lin played better than his numbers suggest.
Even if his minutes were limited, Lin struggled during his time on the floor.
Lin turned it over on the Rockets' first possession, thus resulting in a Mike Conley Jr. three-point field goal on the other end. Mere minutes later, Lin was called for a traveling violation.
Mentally, Lin never seemed to bounce back.
Lin struggled from the floor, going 3-of-9 and missing four of his six jump shots. Although he did come up with two steals and a block, those numbers outweigh his overall performance.
Playing off-ball is damaging Lin's quality of play—Friday night was no exception for a player who should be a lead guard.
Overall Grade: C-
Minutes Played: 27
Stat Line: 7 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 2 steals, 3-of-9 FG, 1-of-4 3PT
Two things took us by surprise in this game, and both pertained to James Harden. Surprisingly, both were negative aspects of a performance by the MVP candidate.
Harden was horrendous offensively and didn't see a single minute during the fourth quarter—surprised yet?
Harden failed to get anything going against Tony Allen, shooting 3-of-9 from the floor. He failed to convert good looks from beyond the arc and looked uncomfortable with the ball in his hands.
Harden was looking to involve his teammates, but on a night where offense was tough to come by for Houston, Harden disappeared.
This is the second time this season that Harden has traveled to play the Memphis Grizzlies and put up a dud. On Nov. 9, Harden shot 4-of-18 as Memphis won 93-85.
Does Tony Allen have Harden's number? If so, Harden's hardly alone.
Overall Grade: B
Minutes Played: 26
Stat Line: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 5-of-9 FG, 3-of-5 3PT
With the rest of the Houston Rockets struggling to get it going, Chandler Parsons was the only reason they remained in striking distance during the first half. With 15 points and three three-point field goals through two quarters, Parsons nearly anchored a lead.
Even as Houston trailed entering the second half, Parsons' efforts were well-noted.
Parsons failed to piece together additional offense during the second half, but the Rockets were struggling as a unit. Even still, we're inclined to offer the praise that Parsons deserves.
Parsons' gliding layup across the lane in which he drew contact during the second quarter was about as pretty as things got for Houston.
Overall Grade: A-
Minutes Played: 22
Stat Line: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers, 7-of-11 FG, 2-of-3 3PT
Donatas Motiejunas was a diamond in the rough against the Memphis Grizzlies, putting on one of his best games to date. Perhaps most impressive of all, he did it against All-Star power forward Zach Randolph.
Perhaps, D-Mo's coming out party is finally upon us.
Motiejunas was a monster on offense, draining mid-range and three-point jump shots. That includes a third quarter in which Motiejunas scored seven of Houston's 16 dismal points.
Unfortunately, his efforts went without a victory.
Motiejunas played well on offense, but he also grabbed just two rebounds and committed three turnovers. Paired with his poor defense on Randolph, Houston was left searching for more than points.
With that being said, Motiejunas was Houston's best offensive player on this day—despite playing just 22 minutes.
Overall Grade: C
Minutes Played: 22
Stat Line: 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 3-of-5 FG
This is the same old story that we seem to tell with every performance by Omer Asik. When he's not completely dominating the glass, he's putting on an abysmal performance.
This was the case of the latter, as Asik finished with six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
You could make the case that Asik should have seen more minutes, but his defense on Marc Gasol was questionable at best. Without a defined offensive skill set, keeping him on the floor was an irrational option in this game.
Asik can produce as well as any big man in the NBA—unfortunately, this was a performance marred by inconsistent play during minimal minutes.
Overall Grade: B-
Minutes Played: 28
Stat Line: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 4-of-11 FG, 2-of-7 3PT
In terms of the basic statistics, Carlos Delfino performed at a high level. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, also making two three-point field goals.
Unfortunately, Delfino was a victim of the team as he joined the Rockets in being incapable of putting up points when they matter most.
Delfino shot 4-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. While those numbers are disappointing, Delfino did attempt garbage-time field goals.
That includes a three-pointer which Darrell Arthur managed to block.
With all of this being noted, Delfino was a quality contributor during a game which few Rockets managed to produce. Had he performed at this same level during a win, the grade and perception would have been higher.
The trials and tribulations of a losing performance.
Overall Grade: B+
Average +/-: +5.8
Collective Stat Line: 41 points, 25 rebounds, 10 assists, 6 assists, 3 blocks
When it comes to the Houston Rockets' second unit, field-goal percentages are irrelevant. They nearly outscored the starters and tallied more rebounds and assists than the primary five.
To put it simply, the Rockets' reserves were the only reason Houston was even in this game.
James Anderson was superb, scoring 10 points and dropping four assists in 21 minutes of action. Greg Smith added nine rebounds and two steals, with Thomas Robinson dropping six boards and a monster dunk.
It wasn't pretty, but Houston's second unit still managed to perform at a high level.
With a majority of the starters on the bench for the fourth quarter, Houston outscored Memphis by a count of 25-19. The quarter prior, with the starters on the floor, the Grizzlies topped the Rockets by 23-16.
Need we say more?