Many thanks to Andrew at 48MoH for giving me this idea, though in a round-a-bout way. He pointed out two things in the Rockets’ game. One, our offense is starting to come together like it was at the end of last year. Two, this was a damn fun game to watch.
With that in mind, I give you a Fleetwood Mac Rumors recap. Rumors is one of the all-time great fun albums.
Yes, it is hard for me to pick this album. It is very pop-y and at least half the songs on it were played to death on the radio. 35 years later I can *almost* play it once a year and listen to it. Still, there is no denying the greatness of the album. It’s light, it’s fun, and it has some great music by great musicians. One of my long-standing music beliefs is that bands with more than one lead singer are always better. The extra singer always means that the music has more variation to it which makes it more interesting to me. There are lots of great exampes: The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Beastie Boys, and even Journey before they let Perry hog the vocals (remember how good Journey was early on).
You have probably already read a few recaps of the game so nothing I’m telling you hear is news. The Spurs blasted the Rockets with great ball movement and passing. They tied a season-high in team assists with 33. Outside of James Harden, the Rockets struggled to make shots. The Spurs really locked up the paint. Nobody played as many as 26 minutes. That is the quick summation of the game.
In other news, Kawhi Leonard looks like he’ll be out a couple more weeks.
While James Harden had a very good game, with 29 points through two and a half quarters, Jeremy Lin did not. The Rockets dream back court that will be making $20M next year is not really working. Harden has played pretty well, but Lin has been absymal this year and I think this game showed the problem. He can’t shoot. Lin was 2-9 from the field and I’m almost positive both makes were layups on the break. Everything else was a brick.
And it wasn’t like the Spurs were making him take tough shots. In fact, it was the opposite. We were leaving him open and daring him to knock down a shot. He was getting time to set his feet and shoot in comfort. Clank. He wasn’t even close. Lin is now shooting 37.8% from the field this year and 23.9% from 3-pt. I think the Rockets would have been better off keeping Lowry.
The game deciding run happened in the middle of the third quarter. It never got close to be a game again. Early in the third quarter, the Spurs had opened up a 16-pt lead and looked on their way to routing the Rockets. A couple turnovers by us and resulting fast break points by them sent the Rockets on an 8 point run. Pop called time out. He yelled at his guys. They responded.
The Spurs hit four straight long 2s to put the lead back to 16. Two each by Tim Duncan and Gary Neal. The Rockets called a time out. They did not respond. The Spurs scored the next 7 points on their way to an 11-2 run. The game was over.
Please, please don’t let our guys stop cutting, passing, and getting easy baskets. What’s amazing about our offense right now, and this blow out in particular, is that we aren’t hitting our outside shots. We are scoring and beating people by getting tons of easy points right at the rim. We are driving and kicking and driving and kicking. We are finding cutters going back door, cutters coming from the weakside, and trailers on the drive.
It’s not just the ball movement, it’s the people movement. Pop really has the guys on the team moving to open spaces. It’s wonderful to watch. The Spurs had 3 guys with at least 5 assists, 8 with at least 2 assists and 11 with an assist.
The Spurs are heading out on a road trip and a stretch of games where Pop will assuredly rest guys. Don’t think for a second that the Spurs won’t have his back. I expect there to be a conversation along the lines of “You guys aren’t playing in Portland three nights from now.” “What about Stern?” “I don’t give a shit about him.” Then the guys will go blow two teams out so that they don’t have to rest.
As much as the Miami game may have been good for the bench, don’t underestimate how good it may have been for the team’s overall mind set. It gives them something to rally around. Tony said after the Memphis game that they always have Pop’s back. Now, it gives them that extra focus and incentive to have his front. To have the starters really jump on teams and bury them early and for the bench to come in extra focused and crush them.
Pop will do things his own way. Nobody doubts that. But, he isn’t going it alone.
There was a pre-game moment of silence for the passing Kevin McHale’s Daughter. This might not be the most appropriate song, but is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
My deepest sympathies to Kevin McHale and his family. I hope they were able to spend as much time together before she passed as possible. Dealing with the death of a family member is brutal. Moving on is next to impossible. You put one foot in front of the other and you go day to day. I don’t think you heal. I think you cope. My belief is that you move on with your life by remembering what’s gone, not by forgetting. Putting your arms solidly around those memories and not letting go. It’s not pleasant and it sucks. But, as my friend said to me yesterday talking about this topic, “It’s living”.
Great song. My favorite on the album. It never gets old. It always excites me.
Every time I see this line up, I get excited: Boris, Manu, Nando, Tiago, and anybody. When those four guys get on the court together, you can be assured of one thing. Highlights. Jeebus they move the ball. They also seem to want to out-beautiful the other guys with their passing skills. They are our own version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Nando De Colo makes basketball fun. I know I’m beating this dead horse, but he’s awesome. While Andrew had him as a garbage time all-star early in the year, I think he’s going to be a prime time performer for us. Nando came into the game in the third quarter and buried a 3-ptr on the first possession. He went on to have 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. Let’s hope he keeps growing and getting better.
I don’t want to know what Morey was thinking when he gave Asik and Lin contracts of $8M per year. Neither guy can shoot. They combined to go 2-15 with 5 turnovers and zero trips to the line.
I don’t want to know why the hell Patrick Patterson was spotting up behind the 3-pt line and letting them fly like he was Matt Bonner.
I don’t want to know who the Rockets shooting coach is. The non-Harden starters shot 10-39 for 26%. They also hoisted an amazing 33 3-pt shots and shot 33% on them. They hit 4 of their last 3-pt attempts after the Spurs lead had ballooned to 33 with six minutes left in the game.
Nando had a couple brilliant passes that had Bill Land saying “oh mama”. The simple one was a forward pass on a fast break. Patty was ahead of the play and Nando found him for the layup. The simple beauty of Nando’s pass was how easy he made it for Patty and how he took the defender out of the play. The defender was directly between Nando and Patty and Nando casually and quickly lead through wide of Patty with a lot of spin so that it popped up high into Patty’s chest and popped left into his path for an easy lay in.
Nando’s find of Tiago as a trailer on the break was just unbelievable. Nando, appearing to over penetrate into a trio of Rockets in the paint, seemed to see Tiago after he jumped and figured out he had nothing to do. The replay showed that Nando probably saw him just as he was jumping. He laid the ball back to Tiago with his left hand, between two defenders, and Tiago laid it in.
Gold Dust Woman
Cory Joesph found Matt Bonner rolling after a side pick and Bonner dunked with both hands. He pulled himself up on the rim. He swung on the rim. He landed and gave a big fist pump on the way back up court. He started talking something to Tim and Tony. The Spurs were up 29. I don’t know what that was all about, but it was fun.
Bonus Track: Our 3-pt Shooting
We aren’t shooting our 3s well this year. Not yet anyway. We are 35.6% which is good for 13th in the league. Last year, we led the league with 39.3%. If we start hitting our 3s, then I think you might really start to see some blow outs.