Give me a second, I need to clean out my eyes.
Stay with me, I’m almost done.
Ok, I’m back.
Well, that wasn’t pretty. A lot of it was actually pretty ugly, but who cares.
On Wednesday night at Toyota Center, the Rockets opened the 2013-14 season with a 96-83 win over the Charlotte Bobcats. It was one of those games where you never thought the Rockets were in danger of losing, but it was much closer than the 13-point spread indicates after the Rockets out-scored Charlotte 24-15 in the last nine minutes. It looked easy then, it did not for the first 39 minutes of the contest.
Let’s start by saying that Charlotte will not win a lot of games this season, but let’s add that they’ll be a feisty team that will be able to cause teams problems. Even though he struggled in the opener, Al Jefferson will help them get easy buckets when they need them, and the wing duo of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson will be difficult to score on.
The Rockets scored less than 100 points after averaging 106 last season, and they put up just 67 after three quarters. Part of that was Charlotte, but part of it wasn’t.
“We were very stagnant offensively”, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said afterwards. “We weren’t cutting and moving the way we normally do.”
That was just the half court offense, minus Francisco Garcia, who was sensational, knocking down five threes. They had trouble making shots, and committed 18 turnovers. That was to be expected. There are going to be growing pains when you make significant changes to your team. What was disconcerting with Wednesday’s win can be summed up by one number: seven.
That’s how many fast break points the Rockets had. Seven. Despite having Dwight Howard and Omer Asik out-rebound the Bobcats by themselves, the Rockets had just 7 fast break points. As a team, the Rockets out-rebounded them by 17, and had just 7 fast break points. That’s a lot of chances for easy transition buckets, but not a lot of conversions.
“We weren’t getting out and running,” McHale said. “The ball was sticky. Everybody was trying to come back and get the ball.”
Let me put this in context for you: last season the Rockets averaged over 18 fast break points a game, and no team averaged fewer than eight fast break points a year ago. That’s why it was so tough to watch. We all got used to transition buckets and 2-on-1 breaks that ended with emphatic slams, and we just didn’t see much of that in the opener. I mean, I barely remember Chandler Parsons playing, and according to the box score, he played a game high 39 minutes, he was just real quiet. When the Rockets offense looked unstoppable last season he was always in the middle of it.
The good thing is that they won. They didn’t play well, but still won, and you like that everyone acknowledged that they didn’t play a good offensive game. You’d be concerned if you heard a bunch of guys patting each other on the back. That wasn’t the case. I thought they might’ve even been a little harsh. Cue Parsons.
“We can’t get much worse offensively,” he said.
I don’t know if it was that bad, but if you can play what you call your worse offensive game and still win pretty comfortably it’s a sign of good things to come. Let’s just hope that they got the ugly, wash your eyes out after watching it game out of the way.