Rockets 115, Bulls 94 - Ryan's Song

Sometimes all you need is one more sniper. The Houston Rockets were missing something in their two recent losses, something which resulted in two heartbreaking losses. Tonight, the Rockets snapped back and slammed the door shut on the Chicago Bulls with a barrage of threes from the apostate Ryan Anderson. We got a look at the best the Rockets can be as they put an inferior team well in the rearview.

The third quarter was the big quarter for Houston, as they posted a point differential of 36-12 against the Bulls. By the time Anderson hit his fifth three-pointer of the game, the Rockets led by 22 points and the game was over. Having one more threat to score from deep was and always is a huge boon for a team that relies so heavily on shock and awe. Anderson helps not just by hitting shots a few  feet behind the arc, but also by making this fear credible in the minds of the opposing teams. We know what happens when a defense is stretched to the halfcourt line and Houston is happy to do so.

The game began in shakier fashion, however. The Bulls got off to a thirteen point lead in the first quarter, making shots at a remarkable clip as the Rockets failed to corral rebounds. To make matters more terrifying, James Harden went down with a turned ankle, writhing in pain on the ground for a minute before hobbling off court. In true Harden fashion, however, he came back in and played 33 minutes on the night. If anything can kill James Harden, we haven't seen it yet.

While Ryan Anderson (and Trevor Ariza!) shot 50% from deep, nobody else had a particularly good evening at three point range, Harden's 33% the next best. It wasn't an amazing shooting night, nor a huge turnover or rebound night. In fact, all it took was a slight advantage on the boards (54-49) for the Rockets to dominate the score. Without endless second chances, the Rockets were able to punish a bad offense for being bad, leading to an abysmal 39% shooting evening from the Bulls. Not every team is this desultory from three point range (23%, ugh), but many teams make up for whatever offensive deficiencies they have by grabbing everything off the glass. Tonight the team gang rebounded, as highlighted by Ariza leading the team with 11. It was tenacity and defense which won the day.


Actually, and Ryan Anderson. He had a team-(and tied for game-)best 21 points on 7-15 shooting. If you subtract the 1-3 that weren't three pointers and get his astonishing 6-12 night from beyond the arc. He looked like a starving man hungry for all the three point meatballs he could find. (Actually, can we agree to start calling three pointers "meatballs" from now on? Thanks.)

Ryan was peak Ryno, grabbing only 3 boards in 27 minutes but still posting a +/- of  18. The Rockets had better hope that his back is healthy for the playoffs, because when he's healthy and hungry, he's a game changer. He gets to hold the best meatball of all, the game ball. It's not edible, though. Don't eat it. It's an actual basketball.

We've seen how the Rockets can die, and we've also seen how they can kill. When they can keep up on the glass and someone isn't cold from behind the arc, they can beat anyone. And they can especially beat the Bulls.

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