With twenty-seven days remaining in the season, the Cavs draw the Rockets tonight, prior to an extended 5-day break.
The Wine & Gold may need the rest, because here’s the thing about the Rockets; they’re really good. Lead by All-NBA James Harden and his 24 PER, their backcourt is deep. Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverly both sport above-average PER’s. Chandler Parsons pitches in 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists on 48 / 39 / 72 shooting. In the frontcourt, Omer Asik averages 10 & 12, as one of the game’s best interior defenders. Houston shoots and makes the league’s second-most three pointers, while playing at the fastest pace, with the fourth most efficient offense. Sometimes, they set NBA records for made-threes in a game. If their residence was the Eastern Conference, a battle with Indiana for the second-seed would be ongoing. Instead, they exist on the fringes of the West’s elite, but they’re tough, and Cleveland visits Houston…
The game started strongly for the Cavs. Tristan converted his one-of-a-kind push shot off the dribble with his right hand, and soon thereafter, drove left into the paint and nailed a lefty hook. The imposing Asik was putty in his hands, as Tristan scored six of Cleveland’s first twelve, with the Cavs trailing by one midway through the first. Continuing to hit buckets, Ellington, Walton, and Livingston each drained a few jumpers, and Cleveland kept-up with the high-octane Texans.
And we have a Chris Quinn sighting! Unfortunately on his first play, he threw the ball away, en route to 6 second-quarter minutes of 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. For the good guys, things started coming unglued in the second: a three minute scoreless spell, and 12 to 4 & 10 to 4 Houston runs. Highlights included a nice two-man game between Tyler and Tristan. We don’t see much of that, but TT passed to TZ, who pump-faked and drove baseline, before dishing to a cutting Thompson. Livingston hit a series of twelve-footers off the bounce, building on his 12 point, 2 rebound, 2 assist, 2 steal, 1 block half. A battle of opposites ensued, as Luke Walton faced-off with Thomas Robinson; they battled to a draw, as T-Rob netted two easy buckets, but the wily veteran lassoed him into a charge. Ultimately though, Houston’s offense was too much; they drained four triples in five minutes, including a Carlos Delfino buzzer-beater, and waltzed to the locker room leading 43 to 58.
Early in the second half, Omer Asik beat Tyler twice for easy buckets…come on, man! Omer Asik beating you one-on-one…twice? Zeller finished with 2 points, 5 rebounds, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls. The Rockets continued abusing Cleveland on the boards, snagging their tenth offensive rebound midway through the third, pushing their lead on the scoreboard to twenty. Cleveland was shooting too many jumpers; 17 of their first 73 field goal attempts came outside the paint. At some point, I started losing focus…a pass zipped through Zeller’s hands…Harden hit a three…I went to get a beer…Patrick Beverly hit a buzzer-beater three. The Rockets lead 61 to 87 heading to the fourth.
Only half-paying attention to the fourth, I started writing this recap, primarily looking up when the Rockets announcers screamed about a Houston dunk or three. Kevin Jones hit a jumper and finished a bunny in transition…Miles hit a long three. I heard that Aaron Brooks blocked a shot; that was probably embarrassing. Thomas Robinson won MVP of garbage time. The Cavs lost 78 to 116.
Let move on…to some bullets:
- Oh, Daniel Gibson. He missed all nine of his shots tonight and finished minus-30. He’s shooting 19% in March, with as many fouls as made field goals. Is there some way that can be arranged for Boobie to go-out on a high note? Hopefully he can find a situation again where he plays with a ball-dominant wing and just makes threes.
- A big problem with the Irving & Waiters injuries is that instead of a solid Livingston and Ellington back-up back-court tandem…it’s Boobie and Chris Quinn. Oy. Are Kyrie or Dion coming back? Did this season end with the Miami game?
- Ellington finished with 13 points, Livingston with 14, and Gee with 11. They combined for 53% true shooting and only 3 turnovers. Pretty solid, right? Except, when that trio paces an NBA team in field goal attempts, on the road, against a strong opponent, your team might lose by forty.
- Tristan finished with 8 and 8 in 25 minutes. That was pretty cool.
- Outrebounded 54 to 32, the Rockets abused Cleveland’s interior players all evening.
- Patrick Beverley looked good for Houston. He played in Europe for a few years, but is offering Houston a solid second-half of this season. Eleven points, five rebounds, and four assists tonight.