Red Nation Roundup: Bouncing Back

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The Houston Rockets sure know how to bounce back from defeat.

After a discouraging loss in Oklahoma City, the Rockets didn't hesitate to respond with fire as they cruised to two comfortable wins against some promising young talent. Among other things, James Harden eliminated any thoughts about a possible slump with a three-quarter triple double against Portland and then a 30 point-11 assist performance in Utah. He knows how to make fans feel better.

To start the week off, the Rockets had a nice little scrimmage against the Philadelphia 76ers. Long story short, James Harden scored 23 of his 33 points in the first quarter and that was that. Pure dominance courtesy of the Houston Rockets. Philadelphia was outscored in every single quarter as they really had nothing going for them. However, it was exciting to see Joel Embiid do what he does as one of the most exciting young talents of the past decade. Excellent post footwork, high activity, and a soft jumper? What more can you ask for from a big man? He'll be something to see for years to come. Anyways, the Rockets cruised on to win it, 115-88.

On Wednesday, it was time to get serious. After a fun, lighthearted game at home, the Rockets traveled to Chesapeake Arena for an intriguing matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This one was a headliner: James Harden vs. Russell Westbrook, two top 5 MVP candidates going at it. Although it seemed as though these two would be carrying their teams in a 1 v. 1 battle to the death, it was quite the opposite. It ended up actually being team v. team. Crazy right? And here's an even crazier fact: after falling down 10 in the beginning of the first quarter, the Rockets bench (led by Tyler Ennis and Sam Dekker) came in and took the lead. Yes, this game was backwards.

To summarize how the game went, it was a stomach-churning back and forth battle that ended in a solid headache for Rockets fans all around. The first three quarters entailed alternating long runs by each team. The Rockets played an exquisite third quarter shooting lights out. The fourth quarter, subsequently, was a nightmare. The Rockets did not score in the last 6 1/2 minutes while Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo went ahead and crushed all Rockets life. And to make matters even worse, Westbrook ended the game with a posterizing slam right on Clint Capela to seal the deal, which took away from what was a solid 13-14 double-double for the Rockets' big. James Harden put up a 13 point, 13 assist performance on 4-16 shooting. It was just an awful way to lose.

This is not what any Rockets fan wanted to see, but it was nasty. Take a look:

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/799088778568667136

James Harden seemingly never has back-to-back bad games.

After a horrid shooting night the day before, the "points guard" was not to be denied dominance. Facing an angry Portland Trail Blazers team who had just been blown out, you'd think they'd come into the game with their heads on fire. But surprisingly that wasn't the case. The Rockets were the ones with their heads on fire as they put up a 41 point first quarter and a 38 point third quarter.

The second quarter was a bit scary, but the Rockets made sure to end your worries. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Moe Harkless were the only real threats to the Rockets in this one and even they couldn't seem to put a dent in the Rockets' lead besides one major run in the 2nd. All in all, James Harden was able to muster up a 26-12-14 triple double in three quarters as the Rockets won 126-109 in an impressive bounce-back showcase.

On a side note, Patrick Beverley  finally made his long-awaited return against Portland.

Ending his season debut with 11 points and 3 blocks, Mr. 94 Feet will continue to contribute his solid catch-and-shoot game along with his signature pest-like defense on opposing guards.

To end the week, the Rockets got the privilege of facing a Derrick Favors and George Hill-less Utah Jazz team. Normally, the Jazz give the Rockets trouble led by Rodney Hood. However, Utah had only half of that going for them on Saturday; Rodney Hood wrecked havoc, but not the Jazz. The opposing team got their usual serving of James Harden with a hint of.... wait. Scratch that.

The opposing team had a normal serving of James Harden with a heaping ton of Eric Gordon, Nene, and Clint Capela! Harden, Gordon, Nene and Capela combined for 87 points in a game that wasn't worrisome after the first quarter. Clint put on an unusual scoring clinic thanks to his buddy James, who ended the game with 31 points and 10 assists. It was a fun one as the Rockets went on to win, 111-102.

Oh, and James Harden displayed his elite dribbling skills to essentially throw Dante Exum out of the way without even touching him. This ended up being the dagger of the game:

https://twitter.com/HoustonRockets/status/800183945879031808

He mixed the pot very thoroughly on that play. Harden's a walking ankle-breaker.

Player of the Week: Clint Capela

As easy as it would be to give another Player of the Week title to James Harden, we're going to switch things up, and for a good reason.

No matter how the Rockets were playing as a whole, Clint Capela was fantastic. Defensively, he was dominant. On the glass, he was active. Offensively, he was efficient. The Swiss Roll was able to put up a career high in points (20), assists (5), field goals made (10), and blocked shots (5), all in the same week. Clint proved that he has what it takes to make a Harden-Capela combo something to be afraid of among the league's best, and that's why he deserves the Red Nation Hoops' Player of the Week title.

Unlike last year, the Rockets have established now how good they are. This group is one of the more intimidating offensive forces in the NBA and the fifth best team in the league thus far (according to CBS Sports). By the time you read this, the Rockets will have traveled to the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit for what should be a win. Now take out some of your excitement (or sorrows) from the past game by checking out some of this week's highlighted Rockets articles!

ROCKETS 115, SIXERS 88 – THE PROCESS OF TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS | Red Nation Hoops

A Red Nation Hoops post-game recap had to be thrown in here! Check out this comprehensive summary of the Rockets game against Joel "The Process" Embiid, citing Clint Capela's outstanding defense! It goes through the motions of the game and what Rockets fans did not notice.

Rockets miss open shots and let one slip away in OKC | ESPN

ESPN's Calvin Watkins always provides the NBA community with some great Rockets game analyses. In this one, he described the ultimate collapse that the Rockets suffered in their game in Oklahoma City. James Harden has his bad days as well, and he makes sure to provide some of his commentary.

Rockets use explosive third quarter to carve up Trail Blazers | Houston Chronicle

As stated previously, the Rockets went into this game with their heads on fire. Ball movement and a James Harden triple-double basically summed up this game. The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen emphasized the ease that the Rockets experienced for the most part, while also mentioning some of their second quarter offensive struggles that were reminiscent of Wednesday night's 4th quarter performance.

Three-pointers: Takeaways from Rockets' win against Utah | Houston Chronicle

Jonathan Feigen's "Three Pointers" are always a good thing to read when you want to get the gist of each Rockets game. In this edition, he talked about James Harden, Clint Capela, and Eric Gordon, the main culprits of the easy Rockets win.

The Houston Rockets’ Great Three-Point Experiment | Wall Street Journal

As you probably know, the Rockets love to shoot three pointers. They are the NBA record holders of three pointers attempted and they are on pace for another record-setting year. This article explains how this is the plan, and why the Rockets believe that it will work in their favor. Win or lose, there will be a lot of three point shooting. Who doesn't love treys?

Sam Dekker is not the next Chandler Parsons| The Dream Shake

If you know who Sam Dekker is, you have probably heard a Chandler Parsons at some point. Even if you haven't, you will. Well, this short article shows us that Sam Dekker does not want to be "the next Chandler Parsons"; he wants to be Same Dekker. Cliché, but respectable. Check out this link to find out who he actually compared himself to on draft day!

Rockets center Clint Capela sings karaoke for teammates | ESPN

For entertainment purposes, you will want to see this. Clint Capela shows off his singing "skills" in a karaoke bit for his teammates and it's..... something. See for yourself.

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of the Red Nation Hoops Roundup!

2 comments:

  1. Again, an insightful look at our Rockets. It's not easy being a Rockets fan. We always have to look at the positives and hold our chins up when things go a bit south...and they will go south.
    Hang on Red Nation, this year seems to be a fun one!
    Thanks Joshua for a great article!

    ReplyDelete