Tag Archives: Dwight Howard

Houston Rockets Fall To Warriors In Game 1

Houston Rockets, Warriors playoffs

James Harden’s great performance wasn’t enough to hold off Warriors. Photo Credit: Kyle Terada, USA today sports

The Houston Rockets let game 1 slip away

The Houston Rockets had the Warriors right where they wanted them in the first and second quarters of game 1. The Rockets quickly quieted the crowd and kept them quiet as the they controlled the majority of the first quarter.

Two and a half minutes into the game the Rockets found themselves 9-2 on top of the Warriors. That momentum was killed when the Jason Terry got an offense rebound and gave a nice bounce pass to Dwight but he lost the ball and the Warrior took it for a fast break lay up at their end.

The Warriors went on to take a 14-12 lead before the Rockets regained control of the game and finished the quarter with a 31-24 lead. Up until midway through the second quarter the Rockets looked like they were the favorites in this with with having as large as a 16 point lead.

Many people believed that the Rockets were going to get their doors blown off, in large part due to the lopsided 4-0 season series that the Warriors had against the Rockets. The Rockets have a chance to win this series, no matter if their chances are slim.

Heading into game 1 I thought that the Rockets were going to win the game because I thought they were going to have a few things going in their favor. The Rockets were coming off an incredible series comeback and I thought that was a huge confidence boost for the Rockets. I thought that they would bring that over into this series right off the start and punch the Warriors in the mouth unexpectedly.

The Rockets are no doubt a different team than the one the Warriors dominated in the regular season, but the Rockets are plagued with too many stretches of bad execution. Turnovers, careless/sloppy play, and bad execution is what this series is going to come down to for the Rockets.

If the Rockets are to win this series they will have to go through every single possession like it truly matters because against a team like the Warriors it does to a great extent.

The Rockets showed that they can hang with the Warriors, and frankly they should have won game 1 but didn’t because they couldn’t play enough clean basketball. The Warriors were feasting on the turnovers and bad plays made by the Rockets and that is what cost them the game.

The Warriors and Rockets have very similar styles, but the two biggest differences are that the Warriors take better care of the ball and they have a little bit better team depth. Because of this the Rockets have to play 40-45 minutes of good basketball to beat the Warriors, that is what its going to come down to.

I think it is a little disheartening that the Rockets couldn’t capitalize on a game in which James Harden finally had one of those MVP type games that he had much of the season. Trevor Ariza also kept up his great play on the the defense end and with his shooting, but nobody else stepped up.

Dwight Howard’s injury was a big hit to the Rockets’ defense and rebounding, and perhaps they find a way to win the game if he doesn’t get his knee injured. Howard tried to gut it out but I think McHale didn’t recognize how injured he was and stuck with him for too long. Continue reading

Playoffs: Rockets vs Mavericks Round 1

James Harden , houston Rockets, playoffs

James Harden has Rockets in playoffs for 3rd straight year.

Rockets Must Take Advantage Of Favorable First Round Opponent

The Houston Rockets head into the first round of the NBA playoffs as favorites to win their match-up vs the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets won the season series 3-1, and in three of those games Dwight Howard did not pay. The Mavericks come into town tonight as 6 point underdogs.

There is a big spotlight on both James Harden and Dwight Howard to perform well and at the absolute bare minimum advance to the second round. The pairing should translate into playoff success at some kind of level. If the Rockets manage to lose to the Mavericks not only a disaster but an embarrassing disaster.

It isn’t even just the Houston vs Dallas city rivalry, there have been jabs thrown between Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Daryl Morey for the past 2 years or so. Also not to leave out that Chandler Parsons is a Maverick.

Just this week for a piece with Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry, Mark Cuban said that there isn’t a more predictable team than the Rockets. He also said that the Rockets are a very talented team, and believes that James Harden is the MVP, but only because the Rockets aren’t very good.

I was actually surprised that Cuban at least gave Harden the nod for MVP since he is pretty much discounting the Rockets as a team. But for a smart man I’m confused as to how he said the the Rockets are very talented but that the 2nd seed Rockets aren’t good.

The Mavericks on the other hand started out the season as a very good team but became a just barely above average team once they made the Rondo trade. The Mavericks exchanged to underrated pieces of their bench in Jae Crowder and Brandon Wright for Rondo. Monte Ellis is a talented scorer but he tailed off a little in the second half of the season. Continue reading

Parsons Could Have Proved Himself As Third Star

Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets

Would the Rockets have retained Parsons had the team advanced further in the playoffs?

Daryl Morey ultimately decided not to bring back Chandler Parsons because he didn’t feel that Parsons could be that third star to help elevate the Rockets into a championship winning team.

When Dwight Howard was added to the team last summer it was supposed to take the Rockets to the next level in the playoffs, and make them a championship contender. After the unexpected first round exit in the playoffs for the second straight year Morey figured he would be able to lure one more star this summer and still retain Parsons.

When that failed, Morey was forced to decide whether to keep Parsons as a part of the core and hamstring flexibility for the next few years, or bring in a decent replacement in Trevor Ariza and keep the possibility open of being able to add another significant player.

Chandler Parsons all along felt that he could be that third star, and was disappointed/offended that the Rockets didn’t view him like that, as he divulged to Yahoo’s Marc Spears. You can’t blame Chandler Parsons for having the belief/confidence that he is or could be a star player. I also don’t think you can blame him for not favoring that the way in which the Rockets handled free agency, he didn’t rip the organization, he respectfully disagreed with the thinking.

Parsons may have been a little big headed when he said he is the best recruiter in the NBA. Surely anybody who is an actual elite player would be a better recruiter of players than Parsons. He is also inaccurate in thinking that Dallas was making him a priority because they felt better about him than the other big free agents. Dallas was last in line out of all the possible contenders, and after they knew Carmelo wasn’t going there they shift their attention to Parsons.

Parsons said he doesn’t think he has scratched the surface of where he can be as a player, which does sound like a stretch because he would be going into his 4th season as a starter and seems as though he is close to his ceiling, if he hasn’t hit it already.

Reality is that Chandler Parsons these past two seasons had the opportunity to prove himself as that third star. Parsons performed well in the playoffs, his numbers back that up but when the team desperately extraordinary performances in the Portland series he had the chance to take his game to the next level, but he couldn’t. With James Harden struggling the way he was, Parsons could have filled that role.

Some can make the argument that his counterpart on the Blazers Nick Batum outplayed him in the series despite Parsons having the advantage in several statistical categories. Batum, like many of the Blazers players seemed to make all the big shots and plays when it mattered most toward the end of games.

Chandler Parsons is as close as you can get to that line that separates a very good role player from a star player. One has to wonder if the Rockets had advanced further in the playoffs, is Parsons still a Rocket one way or another?

The logical person would say that the Rockets this past season with the addition of Dwight Howard at a minimum should have made it to the second round. Some believed that the Western Conference finals was a realistic possibility, and a few even picked the Rockets to represent the West in the Finals.

How Could Have Playoff Success Changed Things

Lets say the Rockets lose in six games to the Spurs in the second round, or in 6 games in the Thunder in the third round.

There have been rumblings around the NBA, as noted by Grantland’s Zack Lowe, that due to the reputation of James Harden and Dwight Howard, players don’t find the Rockets’ situation as appealing as one would assume. But does that thinking change if the Rockets make a deep playoff run? Do Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh commit to Houston if they know for a fact that their arrival turns the Rockets into the favorite to win the finals for the next 3 years.

The other scenario in this hypothetical is even if none the the players decide to come, the decision to match the Mavericks’ offer to Parsons becomes more difficult. If the Rockets went deeper in the playoffs would Morey still break up the core of the team by letting Parsons go? I have to imagine that Morey would have swallowed hard and matched Parsons’ deal. The Rockets were in their first year as a core with Dwight, so maybe you stick with the same core relying on better cohesion and growth among some of the young players, along with a few minor tweaks to the roster.

This is something we will never know but the Parsons decision is going to remain a talking point for at least the next few seasons. Especially with the Mavericks being the same division, playing against them four times a year.

What Could Have Been

Chandler Parsons was the Rockets’ longest tenured player and improved his game every year, mainly his offensive skills. He became a better shooter, ball handler, creator, slasher, and emerged as one of the leaders of the team.

As a fan of the team and of Chandler Parsons, especially in his rookie year, I really would have liked to have seen him maintain the defensive ability he displayed his rookie year. Contrary to what some people say or might believe, Parsons was an above average defender his rookie year. By no means was he a Bruce Bowen or Tony Allen type defender, but Chandler in his rookie year gave players fits.

Rockets fans on message boards that season even began to speculate how many All-Defensive teams Parsons had the potential of making.

I suppose after that season Parsons wanted to focus on improving his offense, and decided to spend most of his energy on offense, causing his defense to fall behind.

Something else that fell off a bit from his rookie year was some of his athletic ability. For whatever reason in his rookie year Parsons seemed as though he got more lift when jumping and was able to glide more in the air. He had atleast 10 different incredible posterizing type dunks, many of which came on off rebounds. We saw some good Parsons dunks since then of course but not really of the same quality.

Parsons also didn’t seem to be as agile with his feet athletically on the defensive end. In the two years since his rookie season it has been difficult for Parsons to stay in front of those super athletic players, which wasn’t as big of an issue in 2011-2012.

It would have been great if we saw the same growth on the defensive side that we saw on offense from Parsons. He would also most definitely still be a Houston Rocket if he had.

There are several ways Parsons could have proved to be that definite third star to help take the Rockets to the finals. Nobody was hoping for that more that Daryl Morey.

We would also like for James Harden or Dwight Howard to be that leader that the team could get behind, but their personalities has that at question. Parsons seemed like he could be that kind of leader, he has the confidence for it, but the total talent has to be there to match.

With the dominoes falling the way they did, Morey could have went ahead and matched Parsons’ offer sheet and there probably would have been significantly less backlash. That would have been his ride or die core for the next few years, but Morey himself said he thinks there could be a better path, and didn’t not want to restrict the team’s flexibility to get better.

One of the things that has somewhat held this team back is the head coaching, McHale is a good coach but his not elite, and at times is unable to get the team to play at its full capabilities. Parsons now will be playing under one of the best coaches in the NBA, and might thrive more under him. So monitoring that is something to look forward to.

Morey has gotten the Rockets this far, even if some believe it hasn’t been far at all. Truth is the Rockets have come a long way from having Kevin Martin and Luis Scola as the teams best players four years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Houston Rockets Without Chandler Parsons

Houston Rocket, Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks

Houston’s Worst Possible Off-Season Scenario: Fan Favorite Chandler Parsons Is On His Way To Dallas

There was a possibility of this happening, but most us did not expect Daryl Morey and the Rockets to let Parsons walk. If it wasn’t enough of a punch to the gut to see Parsons sign with another team, knowing that the team he will be going to is the dreaded Dallas Mavericks is unbearable to stomach.

It was a surprise when we learned that the Rockets were not going to pick up Parsons’ 4th year option back in June, but understandable once the rationale was understood. Daryl Morey was betting on being able to sign a third star to the Rockets, and then match any qualifying offer Parsons accepted.

For a brief period it seemed as though Morey was going to be able to pull off adding three stars in three consecutive seasons. Bosh slips through the Rockets grasps and opts to choose familiarity in Miami along with more money. A day later Trevor Ariza is signed, and though thoughts of Parsons leaving started to creep in, it was assumed that one or two other small additions would be made, and then Parsons will be matched.

Fast forward two days and the worst thing that the city of Houston could have imagined when the Rockets let Chandler Parsons become an un-restricted free agent came to fruition.

Where Do The Rockets Go From Here

As things now stand the Rockets essentially switched out 25 year old Chandler Parsons for 29 year old Trevor Ariza. With Ariza the Rockets are getting an upgrade athletically and defensively at Small Forward. The Rockets should now be able to better defend the opposing team’s best player from the SG or SF positions. Ariza also brings slightly better 3-point shooting.

Chandler Parsons is virtually better at everything else including creating, ball handling, slashing, and intangibles that you want in a player. Parsons was younger and might have had a little bit more room for growth as a player, it will be a loss but is one that must be tolerated.

Omer Asik was not a big factor in the regular season. Having a back up center of Asik’s quality was a luxury, and having Asik was effective when facing teams that played their big men often. Without Asik who knows how long the playoff series with Portland would have lasted with the way LaMarcus Aldridge was playing. The Rockets must find somebody to fill Asik’s spot on the roster.

Jeremy Lin is a loss of a lesser extent. Lin provided depth and on some nights was very effective providing needed offensive production. But reality is that he was so inconsistent and those nights at times were few and far in between. Lin was also a defensive liability when on the court. Rookie Nick Johnson may eventually step into becoming Lin’s replacement sometime during the season.

The Rockets have yet to address the back up center spot, or a possible solution at the power forward spot. Terrance Jones is heading into his third season, and only second season of getting consistent playing time. Jones played very well for stretches and had several big games. However, many of his best games came against teams that didn’t have formidable power forwards. He also struggled defending strong/skilled big men. The Rockets may have to rely on Jones’ continued growth as a player at the power forward position. He has some post moves and has a decent shot from the perimeter. If he can reach another level or two, which is possible, power forward for the Rockets shouldn’t be as big of a concern.

Daryl Morey took a gamble on possibly being able to construct the best starting lineup in the NBA but has failed on that front for the moment. It is not the first time things have seemed as if they have fallen apart. And fact remains that the Rockets still have two of the NBA’s top 15 players, and Morey knows he must add an actual star to realistically have the Rockets as a legitimate championship contender. Morey did not feel that Parsons could be that third piece.

At one point after the 2012 season the Rockets traded away Kyle Lowry, amnestied Luis Scola, and let Goran Dragic sign with the Suns. The fans questioned and smeared Daryl Morey’s name for months. That October, Morey landed James Harden and 9 months later signed Dwight Howard.

Morey decided not to bring back Parsons because doing so would have restricted the flexibility of being able to make moves for future roster building. We just have to continue to trust Morey’s decision making in trying to build a championship team.

Rockets Adding Chris Bosh A Necessity

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Chris Bosh could fill big need at the power forward spot for the Rockets.

If the Rockets want to be a legitimate contender they must add Chris Bosh, retain Chandler Parsons

It is clear that right now the Rockets are not as good of a team compared to last year. Roster depth took a hit when Asik was traded away and if the Rockets sign a free agent to a big contract Jeremy Lin will also need to be dealt.

In the Western Conference, the Clippers added Spencer Hawes, Mavericks added Tyson Chander, and the Spurs resigned Forward Boris Diaw. The West is only improving and in order for the Rockets to realistically compete for a championship they must be able to land Chris Bosh.

These past two seasons point guard and power forward have been the positions of least strength in the starting lineup. Bosh would bolster that the power forward spot, and would allow Terrance Jones to come off the bench. The West is loaded with skilled power forwards and Bosh would improve the team from both offensive and defensive standpoints.

The Rockets’ bigs struggled against Clippers’ and OKC bigs, and Portland beat the Rockets when it mattered most.  Chris Bosh would be a perfect fit at power forward next to Dwight Howard, and help solidify that front court.

If the Rockets fail to land Bosh, they will have to rely on Terrance Jones’ continued growth, as well as some kind of contribution from Donatas Motiejūnas who was never able to establish himself in the rotation.

Is Chandler Parsons worth the max deal

Things can get complicated for the Rockets if a team offers Chandler Parsons a max contract. According multiple reports, the Charlotte Hornets are offering Utah’s Gordon Hayward a  four-year, $63 million max contract, with Utah having the right to match. There are teams rumored to be considering doing the same for Chandler Parsons, the Dallas Mavericks being the leader of that group.

Chandler Parsons will be heading into his 4th season and may only have a few slight improvements left in his growth as a player. Parsons is a very good NBA player and has gotten a lot of love nationally especially because Parsons has had a knack for putting up big performances on nationally televised games.

Parsons is a versatile player and one of the leaders on the team, but the problem is that  because he is very close to his ceiling as a player and is probably not going to make another significant jump, he may be a cut below earning a max contract.

Chris Bosh is the Rockets’ number one target, and as of now he is the only player the Rockets have a real chance at signing, who at the same time is a player worthy of a max deal.

Ideally before the Rockets match an offer sheet or agree on a contract with Chandler Parsons, they want to have Chris Bosh signed. Signing Bosh or any other big free agent first allows the Rockets to go over the cap in signing Parsons because they would be resigning their own player.

Chris Bosh coming to Houston depends solely on whether LeBron James stays in MIami or leaves. Pat Riley also has to get the money line up right between LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. Chris Bosh has said he is willing to take less money than what he is worth, but a significant amount less could have him coming to Houston.

LeBron wants a maximum contract deal, and with Dwayne Wade opting out of his deal that would have paid him over $40 million these next 2 years, he will likely be receiving another deal that is paying him less but still more than he would be paid elsewhere.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Bosh wants to stay in Miami playing with LeBron, but his camp has had conversations with the Rockets over the last few days. Along with the seemingly natural fit, Bosh finds the max deal the Rockets are offering enticing.

Daryl Morey and Kevin McHale started off free agency by meeting with Kyle Lowry in Philadelphia. The Rockets were a player in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes and “laid out the red carpet” for him but reports say he will choose either NY, Chicago, or LA.

Last week ESPN reported that the Rockets were among the four teams that LeBron James’ agent spoke with, leaving some to hang on to the slightest possibility of LeBron coming to Houston, but the favorites now seem to be Miami, or somehow Cleveland.

Why aren’t the Rockets getting more attention as a destination in free agency

I find it a bit baffling that the Rockets aren’t a bigger attraction to any of these top free agents. The addition of any one of the big name players to the Rockets (assuming Parsons is resigned) would easily make their starting 5 the best in the league.

The question is why isn’t there more noise about the possibilities LeBron, Carmelo, or Bosh coming to Houston. LeBron and and Carmelo are virtually ruled out as options for the Rockets, with LeBron even considering making a return to Cleveland.

It is true that the Rockets play in the toughest conference in the NBA, so that would make the road to the finals much tougher than it would be in the East. But with the lineup the Rockets would have it almost wouldn’t matter how much tougher the competition would be. Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA, and James Harden, who has experience playing with multiple superstars, is the league’s best shooting guard.

Carmelo claims that winning is a priority, but neither the Knicks or Lakers will likely have the ability to compete for a championship in the near future. Chicago is probably the best fit for Carmelo, and along with the Rockets give him the best opportunity to win. It is obvious that the high profile cities of New York and L.A. weigh heavy in his mind.

Chris Bosh wants to stay in Miami with LeBron, that much is evident. You can’t blame Bosh for wanting  stay in a city like Miami with the best player in the league.

I found it a bit surprising that LeBron is said to be seeking maximum money on his next deal. LeBron took less money to go to Miami four years ago with the idea of winning championships. LeBron is one of the most famous athletes in the world and makes loads of money off giant endorsement deals every year.

LeBron James is going to make money one way or another, and everybody knows that LeBron is the best player in the world whether his contract reflects it or not. At this point in his career championship rings are the only thing that matter, that his how he will be judged when his career is done. The Rockets would a super team if he chose to come to Houston, and would almost undoubtedly win multiple titles.

LeBron James desiring the max deal doesn’t make much sense in terms of trying to win more championships. Even if LeBron doesn’t want to come to a team like the Rockets, who are in “win now” mode, asking for max money restricts the quality of talent that he can be surrounded with in Miami. LeBron James has never been the highest paid player on his team, but if there ever were a player worth the money, its LeBron.