If this game happened in New York, we'd be talking about how awesome it was to see Linsanity in action. Alas, it happened in a game many initially tuned out because James Harden was injured. Nevertheless, this was a fun one where we got to see what a team would look like if Jeremy Lin was indeed the focal point. Lin starred with 38 points, but the Rockets' defense let him down in an overtime defeat.
That Lin was able to play his best with Harden injured is interesting. We do have to be careful not to draw conclusions from one game, but Lin just seemed more comfortable as the offense's focal point. In this game, he used 28.1 percent of the Rockets' possessions, which is high, but not obscene for one game. On the season, with Harden healthy, he is using just 18.7 percent of his team's possessions. Of course, the Rockets lost and Lin won't play that well in the future, so they're right to run more offense through Harden. But it is interesting that Lin only played his best when he had the latitude to handle the ball.
Anyway, it wasn't Lin that cost the Rockets this game. Houston led throughout and really should have won, but several critical defensive breakdowns cost them. The Spurs got wide-open looks to eventually tie the game, then got whatever they wanted in overtime to seal it. San Antonio is hard for anyone to stop, but the Rockets let them have it too easily.
Douglas is watching the ball, which is good, but the Rockets have it contained decently well, and he's not getting over there in time to contest Tony Parker's layup if it does happen anyway. He has to be more aware of his man while also watching the ball. Instead...
That was just one breakdown, but there were others. Throw in a couple awful decisions by Carlos Delfino in overtime, and you can see how the Rockets lost. Hey, Carlos, where do you plan on dribbling here?
Put it all together, and as weird as it sounds, the Rockets lost a game they should have won.
This was an excellent game for two and a half quarters. Both teams were struggling defensively, but at least the Hawks accomplished their goal of preventing the Heat from getting out in the open floor. Then, LeBron James flipped a switch, went into MVP mode and the Hawks, while deep and talented, were too star-deficient to keep up.
Plays like this from LeBron kind of helped.
The Hawks have nothing to be ashamed of here. They played a locked-in Heat team close throughout, executing their gameplan of dumping the ball into the post, spacing out on the wings and dropping several guys back in transition to prevent fast breaks. They just don't have LeBron and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 53 points and 17 rebounds on 21-29 from the field. This was one of those nights where nobody could have beaten the Heat, and the Hawks just happened to be the team that got in the way.
Jrue Holiday deserves All-Star consideration. Holiday had 25 points and eight assists, making all the key plays down the stretch, and the 76ers scratched out another one against a seemingly mediocre club. Then again, the 76ers without Andrew Bynum are pretty mediocre themselves.
Back to Holiday: while he still can be turnover-prone, he is carrying such a heavy offensive load for a team that really has nobody else. It's not pretty, and eventually, you'd like to see Holiday be more efficient, but he's now taking all the shots that nobody else wants to take. Considering that, it's pretty impressive that he keeps making big plays down the stretch in games like these.
Blazers 92, Raptors 74
It's getting ugly for the Raptors. In what might be the strangest moment of the NBA season to date, Amir Johnson got thrown out of the game after he wouldn't give the ball back to official David Jones on a missed free throw. Then, he threw his mouthpiece at Jones as he was held back, which will surely earn himself a suspension.
And, the video.
Meanwhile, the Blazers won despite starting Sasha Pavlovic AND Victor Claver, shooting 0-20 from three-point range and losing Damian Lillard for a bit with an ankle injury (he did return). Let's just say this wasn't a game to write home about.
Stephen Curry: 27 points, seven rebounds, seven assists. David Lee: 25 points, 11 rebounds. Those two continue to carry the Warriors offensively, and the Warriors' defense did the rest. Golden State has now won seven of eight, and save for a couple closer-than-expected calls against inferior competition, they have won in impressive fashion. It's time for us to start taking them for real.
This stat is incredible.
The win gives the Warriors their first winning record on a road trip of seven or more games since the 1970-71 season— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) December 11, 2012
Yup, this one got out of hand quickly. So much for the Kings being better without Tyreke Evans.