Houston Rockets vs. Indiana Pacers: Grading Rockets' Performance
The live crowd was fairly tame in the opening quarter, but due to heavy rains and traffic outside the arena, not everyone was able to make it for the start of the game. This was a historic event for the country and the NBA as a whole, so it was nice to see the building fill up over time.
The 12,885 fans in attendance witnessed Houston shoot 53.2 percent from the field and score 50-plus points in the paint. They also forced the Pacers to turn the ball over 19 times.
A 32-21 fourth quarter helped the Rockets pull away for good, and the Rockets now have their first victory of the preseason.
The bench stepped up in a big way, scoring 54 of the team's 116 points. There was no need to play the starters for heavy minutes in this one.
Houston and Indiana will play once again on Sunday, October 13th in Taipei, Taiwan.
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley
In a way to test the waters and try out different lineups, head coach Kevin McHale went with Patrick Beverley as his starting point guard for the game.
Preseason basketball is used as a means to experiment with rotations, so this should not be an indication that the 25-year-old out of Arkansas has surpassed Jeremy Lin on the depth chart.
Beverley looked solid on offense, hitting a couple of three-pointers and dishing out three assists. He was able to drive by George Hill and even fake him into a couple of fouls on the perimeter, showing off his high basketball IQ.
Hill is usually one of the games better point guards on defense, but Beverley had little to no trouble with this matchup.
Final Grade: B +
Shooting Guard: James Harden
James Harden did exactly what was to be expected of him. He was instant offense when he had the basketball and an absolute pest on defense with his quick hands.
His 21 points led all scorers. He also chipped in five rebounds, four assists and a game-high four steals.
It's hard to find fault with his game on this occasion. Not only was he scoring, but he was grabbing boards, finding teammates and creating turnovers.
What else can you ask for from your best player?
Final Grade: A
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons
Chandler Parsons made an impact, although a relatively quiet one to say the least. That's surprising, considering the third-year pro played the most minutes for the Rockets at 29:17.
He shot 60 percent from the field and ended with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists.
When I say Parsons made a quiet impact, that shouldn't imply that he had a bad game. It's just that his other teammates, including James Harden and several players off the bench, had more noteworthy outings.
Parsons is exactly what this Rockets team needs. James Harden and Dwight Howard will always get a majority of the looks during the season, but even so, Parsons will let his offense come to him and perform at a high level, just like he did this morning against Indiana.
Final Grade: B +
Power Forward: Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones got the start at power forward in place of Donatas Motiejunas after coming off the bench this past Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
From now until the end of time, Jones will have the distinction of scoring the first NBA basket in the Philippines. Not a bad feather to have in your cap.
In 25 minutes, Jones would score five points and grab six rebounds, three of which were on the offensive glass. He struggled defending David West down low, as the two-time NBA All-Star looked to attack the sophomore with his back to the basket every chance he got.
Jones has promise as an athletic role player off the bench, but a starter he is not. The Rockets would be better suited starting someone at the four-spot with a little more range, like Montiejunas or Casspi, that will give Dwight Howard more room to operate in the paint.
Final Grade: D +
Center: Dwight Howard
Three early fouls caused Dwight Howard to sit out the entire second quarter after scoring six points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first.
With Omer Asik as a DNP, the Rockets didn't have much of an interior defense to halt a Pacers comeback in the second quarter. That won't be the case during the regular season, as the Rockets have the luxury of possessing two of the best post defenders the league has to offer on their roster.
D12 struggled around the basket, shooting just 4-of-11 for the game with nine points and four turnovers. With five total fouls and just a little over 23 minutes of playing time, Howard was never really able to get on track.
You can tell by watching Howard that he's evolved his post game to more than just backing down with his big frame and tossing up floaters and hooks. There's still a lot of work to be done, but he certainly showed glimpses that some progress has been made. However, it wasn't enough to earn him a pat on the back for this mostly sloppy performance.
Final Grade: C
Sixth Man: Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin came off the bench as the primary backup and sixth man to Patrick Beverley, who got the start at point guard.
The two even saw time on the court together during spurts as the Rockets went small with Lin playing shooting guard.
Lin looked great on offense, driving past defenders and attacking the basket on a consistent basis with his blazing speed. His tenacity and willingness to draw contact earned Lin eight trips to the charity stripe.
He finished the game with a strong stat line of 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Beverely and Lin are basically interchangeable at point guard, so it's nice to know that coach Kevin McHale has options when it comes to who he'd like running the offense.
Final Grade: A -
The Houston Rockets dodged a major bullet in the first half after Donatas Montiejunas landed awkwardly on his wrist and leg after a slam dunk. He appeared to be alright afterwards, so that's a good sign. No one wants to see any major injuries occur during a meaningless preseason game. He did return to the court in the fourth quarter, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-12 from the field.
The biggest problem with the second-unit was their defense in the second quarter, as the Pacers were able to cut the lead to 61-55 at halftime with the Rockets' starters sitting, losing a 15-point lead. Not having Omer Asik play was a huge blow in that regard as several Pacers saw countless openings in the lane to attack the rim.
Ultimately, that poor play on the defensive end didn't hurt the Rockets chances too much, as their offense was more than enough to help carry the team to victory.
Montiejunas, Jeremy Lin and Omri Casspi combined for 47 points and 19 rebounds. The play of Casspi was most noticeable, as he ended the game with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Over his career, Casspi is averaging just 3.3 rebounds, so it was nice to see him contribute in other aspects of the game rather than just shooting.
Throw Asik and Francisco Garcia back into the mix, along with presumably Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones, and you have yourselves one of the deepest second-units in all of the NBA.
Final Grade: A
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