Rockets 105, Grizzlies 83 - The Math Problem

Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Three is a bigger number than two. This simple, pedestrian fact is the underpinning of not only this Houston Rockets team but the NBA in general at this juncture in history. It may be simple to understand, but it's much harder to solve. This is the so-called "Math Problem," as Matt Moore calls it. If you score two points at a time while the other team scores three, you will lose. This has been an ongoing difficulty for the Memphis Grizzlies for some time, and it is in the starkest of relief tonight. The Rockets inexorably overtook the Grizzlies due to the three point shot, and there was nothing the short-handed crew could do about it.

The Rockets attempted 43 three pointers, one under their season average, and hit 18 of them, good for a  blistering 42%. The Memphis Grizzlies attempted 27 three point shots and made a mere 7 of them. The Grizzlies scored 21 points off three pointers. The Rockets scored 54. For Memphis, this is The Math Problem. For Houston, this is the Math Solution. Speaking of their three point shot, this is their second game in a row in which they made over 40% of their three point shots, and is their second game since the return of Chris Paul. While correlation is not causation, in this case there is good reason to believe that the return of Paul is helping the Rockets generate more open looks. He absolutely knows how to shred a defense, and even a squad as vaunted as the Grizzlies on the defensive end gave up a number of open looks.

Chris Paul is unbelievably good. He is also not the best player on the team. Paul is a lock for the Hall of Fame. The gap between him and the best player isn't even close.

James Harden put up a good but not eye-popping line of 29 points, 9-20 shooting, 6-12 from deep, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals.  This, of course, would pop eyes if any other player had posted them. Harden, for his part, has distinguished himself to such a degree that anything short of a miracle is just another day at the office. Perhaps this trend will continue into the season. If it does, we will have to have some conversations with some media members. For now, we will wait and see.

And the good news is that because 3 is more then 2, the Rockets will do a heck of a lot of winning while we wait.

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