Thursday, November 29, 2012

Notes: Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder [11/28/12]

Oklahoma City Thunder 120 - Houston Rockets 98

The Good

Thunder: They shot 54% from the field, everything fell into and through the hoop. Serge Ibaka's jump shot has noticeably improved, he went 11 of 13 for 23 points. Good Russell Westbrook showed up, he was somewhat under control (5 turnovers), his dribble penetration and usage of the screens makes the floor so much bigger for his teammates. The pick and roll tore up the porous Houston defense, Russ was given all the options. Depending the direction of the screener takes (in most cases, it is Serge Ibaka, but this works with Nick Collison too), he will read it and make the right decision. On top of that, Kevin Durant did the best Kevin Durant things, 37 points and got himself to the line.

On defense, they were in sync, their rotations can not be any better. The ball handler trap off the screen forced multiple turnovers. Every James Harden move was read to perfection, and prevented. He basically got blocked every time he tried his luck in the paint.

Rockets: Patrick Patterson (27 points) seems like a guy that can consistently help with the scoring load. He takes good shots and is decent in the low block. Omer Asik finally learned how to how to do a lay up, which will be useful in future. A sudden improvement in his offensive repertoire that goes under scouting reports can surprise a few teams.

The Bad

Thunder: I hate to say none, but they played a perfect game.

Rockets: The non-existent defense and bench play. They are mismatched in every position, Russ shattered Jeremy Lin and Kevin Durant torched any one within his parameter. On offense, they could not execute plays, once they get stuck in the OKC ball handler trap, they have already lost half of the shot clock. As a result, most shots came from isolations. They dribbled more than they passed and barely moved without the ball.

James Harden did try to do a lot on his own, and it obviously didn't work. He needs to get his teammates involved, or nothing will happen. Jeremy Lin is not quite ready to be a play maker, and with Russ draped all over him, his sub-par ball handling forced him to pass early. This team is still too young, they need time to develop and an answer to their identity crisis.

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