It was an ugly game Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. The Rockets lost 116-99, dropped to 3-8, and are looking overwhelmed and helpless without Yao, Aaron Brooks, and Chase Budinger in the lineup. Combine that against an athletically superior team like the Thunder, and with all the travel the Rockets have have had to do lately, and they look like a tired, worn-out team.
They have played 5 of their last 6 games on the road. Coach Rick Adelman brought up a good point on Wednesday:
“How do you go from a three-game Eastern trip, fly all the way back from New York, get in at 4 o’clock in the morning, play the next night at home, fly out after the game and come here? Now you got to go to Toronto.
“It does take a toll on you. I’m just facing the facts. It didn’t even seem like we were at home to me. I’m not going to say it to the players, but that’s how I felt.”
At halftime the Rockets were scoring fine, having shot 59% and racking up 53 points, which is their average as the #4 scoring team in the league. But the problem was that they gave up 65 points! Houston had 9 less offensive rebounds (11-2) in the first half and had 10 more turnovers (13-3). That’s not going to get it done.
I could go on-and-on about the problems with this team, but there are plenty of other forums online about that. I will take some pride, though, when I implored the Rockets in yesterday’s blog post to play Jermaine Taylor, and to my surprise, they did! And it wasn’t just garbage time. It was in the second quarter when Taylor saw his first action it quite some time, and he did pretty well, finishing with 8 points.
Taylor didn’t get the ball many times in the 2nd quarter. He was kind of like the new kid in school among his teammates, not getting many passes thrown his way. But when he did , he took it strong to the hole a couple of times and scored on impressive moves. He turned it over on another possession dribbling into traffic, and missed a 3-pointer. On the defensive end, he blocked Serge Ibaka impressively on a put-back attempt near the rim.
But the Rockets were so overmatched in the third quarter by Kevin Durant (24 points) and Russell Westbrook (21), they really had no chance as they ran out of gas, and OKC cruised to their biggest margin of victory this season. The silver lining is that maybe Taylor will get more playing time after doing well and proving me right.
The only thing that can give solace to the Rockets is that injuries occur to every team, so the ground they have given up to other teams at the beginning of this season could be made up as their competitors get hit by the injury bug themselves. Not a great strategy, but it is a reality.