HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – The end sequence of the Rocket’s 122-120 overtime loss to the Trailblazers Sunday night was just as ugly as Hack-A-Howard. At least to me.
Down one with 17 seconds to play and the ball, the Rockets called a timeout. The play out of the timeout? James Harden took an inbound pass, held it for 6 seconds, sized up a defender and took a twenty-five foot three pointer. Clank.
The Rockets were forced to foul, and after one missed free throw called another timeout. They’d have ten seconds to at least tie (if not win) the game – down just 122-120. But once again, a play failed to develop. Harden got the ball back from Terrence Jones, hesitated, then realizing the clock was dwindling threw up a fade away over Nicholas Batum that bounced off the back iron. Game blouses, bro.
Harden has made that shot before. But that wasn’t the problem. These contradicting quotes are.
“We tried something and they kind of blew it up,” said coach Kevin McHale “It wasn’t a smooth running play. We didn’t attack the rim and get down hill the way we wanted to.”
Attacking the basket? Makes a whole lot of sense. Not only had Robin Lopez fouled out of the game by that point, but so had LaMarcus Aldridge. Portland barely has any inside defensive presence to begin with. At this point, they had no one.
After the game, Harden was asked about the plan on that last possession.
“Get a good shot. And I had a good shot, I just missed it.”
I may be reaching, but quotes like this reinforce my curiosities about how much of an effect Kevin McHale’s coaching has on this team. I’m always going to be slightly biased in favor of him because of his Celtic days. Still, if you recall the amount of times he’s exasperatedly told the media something along the lines of “They know what they need to do”, you wonder if he’s feeling LIKE THIS behind the scenes:
I would. The Blazers were there for the taking down low. They don’t play defense very well, specifically in the post. So with a team like the Rockets with a lot of players who can slash towards the bucket, why not attack? I imagine McHale – a Hall of Fame big man in his day – realized this should have been the way to go. But the players didn’t get the memo.
Rant time. Not to go all “old man” on you, but I HATE seeing these damn whippersnappers – specifically James Harden and Chandler Parsons – chucking up as many threes as they do. James Harden is a good shooter from outside. But he’s far from great – he shot 36.6% from downtown during the regular season (76th in the NBA) with the 11th most attempts.
Parsons’ ugly line drive shot actually gave him a better percentage over the season than Harden – 37% which tied him for 68th in the league. Did he hit 10 three pointers in one half this season? Yes. Did he get a J.R. Smith-esque irrational shot complex from said night? It seems so.
Long story short…the duo combined to shoot 6-25 from outside Sunday night. That’s brutal. James Harden (3-14 from 3) attributed it to “rust”. Chandler Parsons can’t be painted as the goat after the game…especially when he had 17 points in the first half. But he was 3-11 from outside, including 0-6 in the second half.
By the way…on non 3 point shots, Parsons was 10-12. Slash, bro.
Harden was a fringe MVP candidate this season, and has had his fair share of incredible nights from a scoring standpoint. But you have to wonder if McHale can EVER get the bearded one to become a more efficient player. And when you see a big time game end the way it did – then hear Harden’s comments after – it seems doubtful. Add in the lack of ball movement you see from the Rockets offense when they can’t run, plus the “get a good shot” offense in late game situations, it’s not a stretch to imagine McHale is on the hot seat.
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