NBA 2018-19: The Houston Rockets' problems are bigger than just Carmelo Anthony
James Harden a.k.a. "Headband Harden" scored 54 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds last night against the Washington Wizards. He shot 17 out of 32 from the field and had 7 three-pointers.
This startling performance opened some of the history books. According to ESPN Stats, this was the 10th 50-point instance of Harden's career, the fifth instance of him scoring at least 50 points and 10 rebounds, and the fifth consecutive season in which he had registered a 50-point game.
No other NBA player has ever registered 50 points and 10 rebounds more than thrice, and no player other than Wilt Chamberlain notched up more consecutive seasons with at least one 50-point game.
But did Houston Rockets get a win? The answer to that is a big fat no.
Even after such an impressive performance by Harden and 36 points by Eric Gordon, the Rockets lost their third straight game. The shocking fact is that two of the losses have come against the weak Cleveland Cavaliers and the disturbed Washington Wizards.
So what is wrong with the Rockets? Was trading Carmelo Anthony not enough?
The Melo trade happened because he was not fitting into coach Mike D'Antoni's system. He was slow on the defensive end. But to be fair, their defense has been horrible even without him, and last night is proof of that.
They are giving easy baskets to the opposing team, and the movement on the defensive end is not happening efficiently at all. What is the use of scoring points if you can't save them at the other end?
The Rockets' defensive rebounding is non-existent. They rank 25th in the defensive rankings, and are very low in the rebounding category too. For a team which had the best regular season last year, these stats are a shame.
I personally don't like Mike D'Antoni's system. It is all offence, and it is hurting the Rockets right now.
Also, one more factor that needs to be mentioned here is the performance by the bench players; the Rockets' bench hardly scored last night. With Carmelo, they were weak defensively but they had a scoring option on the bench. After him, there is no support from the bench at either end.
Last night Clint Capela, Gordon and Harden had a combined score of 107 out the 135 scored. Clearly, it is a case of a few guys scoring all the points. The bench needs to step up if they want to get things going in the season.
They also need to look for a big man who can rebound the ball, and get him to join the team before Nene is healthy. Until then, PJ Tucker and Capela have to put in more efforts.
Also, the Rockets have missed the services of Chris Paul in the last two games. When he returns, they will be more efficient on the floor, as always.
The Rockets play against Dallas tomorrow, and their fans will hope that Harden and gang make a comeback.