Third Quarter Ends One Game Winning “Streak”
There’s a reason very young teams typically don’t contend for titles. Tonight’s third quarter collapse against the “definition of mediocre” Golden State Warriors is an excellent point of evidence as to why.
The Rockets played a lineup that could be described as “promising”: Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., JaeSean Tate, Kenyon Martin Jr. It might also be called “G-League”: Amoni Brooks, Daquan Jefferies, Anthony Lamb. Maybe one of those players will turn out to stick on the roster, but once again, the Rockets had virtually no experienced, established, NBA players available. The lack of experience, and seasoning, showed.
The Rockets Injured List:
Danuel House Jr.
(Putatively) Dante Exum
Why is that list important for non-tanking reasons? Because veteran players tend to not get rattled when an opponent changes their approach and comes out swinging to start a half in which they should have been embarrassed to be down to the Rockets.
The Rockets had no adjustment to Golden State pressuring the ball (realizing the Rockets effectively had one guard who might hold his dribble under duress in Kevin Porter Jr.) and collapsing three or four players to the middle on any sort of drive.
Golden State assumed, correctly, that the Rockets would generally be unable to pass out on their drives effectively against the defense collapsing in the paint, and would further, likely panic under the pressure caused by the defense there.
Combine this with Stephen Curry regaining his shooting stroke in the third quarter, and you had a recipe for a 39 point to 12 point quarter for Golden State. That quarter turned a six point Rockets lead into 21 point deficit, and the Warriors never looked back.
It’s a comedown from Kevin Porter’s 50pt game, but young players are like that. Sustained excellence is rare in the NBA, and young players generally aren’t the ones providing it.
It’s worth noting that this is a rookie season for head coach Stephen Silas. I’ve never experienced a coach of a team I follow that seems as genuinely decent and likable as Silas, and that’s saying something, considering the affable Mike D’Antoni and the gregarious Kevin McHale. This is a learning year for him, too. The team needs adjustments at times, and they don’t seem to be there. Is this because the Rockets are a skeleton crew at best? Very likely.
Like Porter, Tate, Wood, and Martin, we should also expect more from Silas next season. The lack of responses to opponents is slightly alarming, but not a cause for concern at this point.
Meanwhile, the Tragic Number shrinks every game.
Congratulations to the Warriors, a team shattering the luxury tax record, on reaching .500.