Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The James Harden and Jeremy Lin combo + Knicks Defense.

Scott Halleran - Getty Images

Houston Rockets 109 - New York Knicks 96

The Good

Rockets: For one night, in the place where "Linsanity" started, Jeremy Lin and his new back court partner, James Harden were able to co-exist. These two are at their best when the ball is in their hands. They thrive off the pick and roll and only one of them can find other ways to be effective away from the ball. The problem is that the better player, the one you would rather have on the ball is James Harden and you would not want him to work off the ball for Lin's benefit.

This forms a weird dynamic between the two. Jeremy Lin is not a pass first guy, he looks to score as soon as the ball gets to him. He has a bad habit of stopping his dribble once he gets covered by defense. And trying to pass out of a tough situation, in turn results in a lot of turnovers. On the other hand, James Harden likes to use the pick and roll, and go over his options before taking his shot. If you were the Rockets, based on the above descriptions of their play, who would you pick. The answer, if it was not too obvious, is Harden. He can create for his teammates and put himself in a better scoring position (See free throw attempts).

Frankly, it is too early to call this a failure. They didn't even have training camp together. They are still figuring things out on the fly, learning each others tendencies. Kevin McHale has done a better job managing minutes they share on the floor, and there are slight improvements. The key is to make Lin a better spot up shooter, which he could fix with time.

I like Houston's playoff chances in the future, they have a good group of young players. Omer Asik has looked infinity times better on offense. In his Chicago Bull days, he would shit himself if he gets the ball on offense. Either botching a lay up or kick out to a teammate without looking at the basket. Chandler Parsons is emerging as one of the better Sophomores of last year's draft. His numbers have dramatically increased and makes the Rockets look like a promising team. (In terms of Rookie development).

Knicks: There wasn't much going for the New York Knicks, except for Chris Copeland. This 28 year old rookie knows how to score and has 29 points to prove it. He is a perfect fit in this system, a stretch 4 that can hit threes will provide Knicks plenty of space. If he can remain consistent, he can be huge off the bench once Carmelo Anthony returns.

The Bad

Rockets: The defense didn't sustain for long periods, most of it was gone by the first half. Both teams turned the ball over at least 17 times and scored 20 points off the mistakes.

Knicks: Well, when your offense relies on threes and a Superstar to create opportunities, you can't really hope to win without either of them. The highly praised ball movement of the Knicks was replaced by Raymond Felton's over dribbling. Felton definitely seemed like he was trying to prove that he is better than Jeremy Lin, which ultimately led to terrible possessions. He took the first shot after every single screen, and rarely looked for his teammates. I don't even know why Steve Novak was on the floor, considering that no one ran screens for him.

On the defensive side, it was the worst performance since the last Houston loss. The Knicks are 0-2 against the Rockets (Both were blowouts). The perimeter defense is letting people go in and out at will. Felton and Kidd could not keep up and gave all of the responsibility to Tyson Chandler. Who naturally, can not do everything. The Rockets scored 52 points in the paint, just look at Jeremy Lin's shot chart. (Via: @ESPNStatsInfo)

Things weren't any better in transition, they allowed 25 fast break points. Guys were leaking out and the Knicks didn't slow anybody down. This won't entirely become a problem, the real issue was effort, they didn't seem like they wanted to win.

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