HOUSTON - Some fans spend the last few minutes of a blowout win working themselves into a frenzy by wildly cheering for their team to score enough points to earn free fast food of some sort. The fans at Toyota Center Tuesday night – they just wanted one more three.
Yes, it was that kind of game for the Rockets, who spent the vast majority of the evening running the Golden State Warriors off the floor while simultaneously gunning for the NBA record books. And while Houston came up just short in its bid to set new all-time marks for threes made in both a half and over the course of an entire game, the Rockets surely left their fans feeling plenty satisfied in the aftermath of the team’s remarkable 140-109 win.
For starters, there was the fact that Houston’s players dedicated most of the night to putting on the kind of shooting display that would frequently win the league’s three-point shootout in a rout. The Rockets tied the NBA record for made threes in a half by knocking down 14 of their 18 attempts from long range through the opening two quarters of play. Then they began the third quarter with two more triples, raising their hit rate to a ridiculous 80 percent after their first 20 three-point attempts of the game. Only then did Houston begin to cool off as the club could “only” manage to drain 35 percent of its final 20 shots from beyond the arc. That, combined with Golden State’s intentional fouling down the stretch, conspired to keep the Rockets from breaking the NBA record, as the club was forced to settle for simply tying the mark, initially set by Orlando in 2009, of 23 made threes in a single game. Bear in mind, Houston accomplished all of this without the services of its best three-point shooter, Carlos Delfino, who missed the game with a strained right elbow.
How did they do it? Plenty of superhuman shooting certainly helped, but none of it would have been possible without some of the best ball movement the Rockets have employed all season. Houston’s players raced around the floor as if they were a coach’s whiteboard come to life; sharply cutting off the ball, creating space, swinging the ball from side to side, minimizing turnovers and making the extra pass. Little wonder then that the club also set a season-high by dishing out 35 assists Tuesday night. For 48 minutes, the Rockets were the epitome of everything they aspire to be offensively and the end result was an offensive juggernaut the Warriors were simply powerless to stymie or slow, much less stop.
“The amount of threes we hit is pretty ridiculous but guys stepped up,” said Chandler Parsons who finished with 16 points and 8 assists while knocking down 4-8 from beyond the arc. “We were open and no one’s going to turn down open shots. We did a great job moving the ball and I think it’s a product of how unselfish we played all game long.
“That’s how you get to shoot than many threes and make that many threes – just with your ball movement and your spacing and everyone playing unselfish.”
That unselfishness proved to be just as contagious as the Rockets’ torrid shooting. Houston brutalized the Warriors’ defense – a unit, it should be noted, that has been much-improved for most of this season – with its ability to find the open man time and time again Tuesday night. And when the Rockets were open they simply refused to miss, especially during a first half that saw them put up an eye-popping 77 points (also a season-high). No one epitomized that more than did Jeremy Lin who has been heating up after struggling to find the range from distance for much of the season. Lin connected on five of his eight three-point attempts Tuesday, elevating his average from beyond the arc over the past six games to a robust 48 percent.
“I’ve been feeling a lot better,” admitted Lin, who finished with a game-high 28 points and nine assists. “I got off to a really slow start and it was frustrating because I’d been working on it all summer but hopefully I’ll be able to turn the corner and shoot the way that I’m capable of shooting it.”
If he does that, this Rockets’ offense may very well take off into the NBA’s stratosphere given the fact the team has already spent the vast majority of the season ranked among the league’s top-10 in terms of offensive efficiency. To be sure, Lin’s backcourt partnership with James Harden would become nearly unstoppable and downright unfair to opposing defenses if he were to start consistently draining the open three-point looks he receives on a regular basis.
Far more important, however, is for the Rockets to collectively commit themselves to adopting this sort of unselfish approach with increasing frequency. There are going to be nights when shots aren’t raining in with regularity and the fans aren’t roaring for a run at the record books. But by operating with the kind of execution they showcased Tuesday night, the Rockets will find themselves far better equipped to handle any such bumps in the road.
That unique brand of trust in both self and system is embedded in the championship DNA of teams that pose true threats to the throne. And if the young Rockets yearn to get there someday – and to hear an altogether different roar from their fans – they’d be wise to commit this performance to memory and begin the process of making it a permanent part of their genetic code as well.
(On the win and three's) “We just had to keep playing. I really didn't even know we had a chance to break the record until late in the game. We shoot a lot of 3's, that's just what we do. If we were to get them in the flow, we were going to get them. Mark (Jackson) didn't want it to happen and fouled and I didn't have any problem with how they played. Mark's got to coach his team, I have no problem with that. We had a night tonight where needless to say, we shot lights out. We started off the game just on fire from the 3-point line and kind of stayed that way the whole night. That doesn't happen very often.”
(On issues of piling up points against opponents) “I don't have any issues with anybody. We run offense. For the most part, I thought we took a couple (shots) that we made that were a little early. Kind of the ones we've been trying to stay away from lately. I told our guys, any 3 early in the clock has gotta be a “How do ya feel? Are you flowing? Are you rolling?,” and then we had some guys that were flowing and that were rolling and they made them. A lot of the 3's came later on after we had a drive and kick, drive and kick, they packed the paint and made the extra pass and that's just kind of how we play. I have no problem at all with what Mark was doing with his team. We were just trying to play.”
(On comments to the team when game was getting chippy) “Just keep playing. Just move the ball and take the shot that presents itself and just play basketball. The guys that were in the game at the end, Patrick Beverley, D-Mo (Donatas Motiejunas), they're just out there playing. They didn't have an agenda. They were in there just playing. We do play a push it up style. I told the guys that when you get the rebound let's push it up, see what presents itself and just play basketball.”
(On teams play) “The biggest thing we had was 9 turnovers, which was huge for us. We had 35 assist, which was huge for us. So you go 35 and 9, that's fantastic. We were aggressive. We really got out there and really started off unconscious from the 3 point line but then I thought we broke the defense down. We're going to have periods with our team where shots don't go but if we keep having ball movement and body movement and attacking again in the paint and pushing it out, Bogut (Andrew) is a good rim protector and probably one of the better jobs that we've done driving into the paint and kicking it out and finding a shot. The thing I like the best was we kicked it out and made the extra shot on top of that.”
(On putting the game away) “The very big thing was we wanted to win the third quarter and we did by three. Then after that it was just keep playing. We kept putting ours guys in and just told them to just keep playing our style, keep pushing and rebounding and pushing it up and see what we got. All of the stuff that we run and unless its the side out of bounds, is a flow offense which means you push it and you go, you turn the ball over from side to side. Its a read and react, multi flowing offense. It's hard to walk it up and play, we just don't do that and when we do that, we don't play very well. So I told the guys just keep on doing what we do.”
(On how important was it to not play anyone over 33 minutes) “That was nice but it will be a huge game tomorrow. We'll just have to go over there and try to find a way to win in an awful tough place to win games.”
(On James Anderson's play) “I thought he played well. He had to because of Carlos (Delfino) not available. I thought James did a nice job. I thought James got back down and rebounded very well. He came back and got some nice rebounds in the crowd and did a nice job, so he's going to have to until Carlos can get himself back. James practices hard, I thought he showed tonight what he could do.”
(On fouling and the last minute situation) “I don't know. Mark has done a great job with the Golden State guys, those guys play hard. They're a tough team, they can get up and down. This is just one of those nights where a lot of stuff happened well for us, every coach makes a decision on how he coached his team.”
(On the key to the win) “Hot shooting and us moving the basketball when the shots were there we were taking it and not make things hard on each other, we just got hot tonight.”
(On the intentional fouls by Golden State at the end of the game) “It kind of ended crazy. They didn't want us to get the record, a couple of flagrant fouls and intentional fouls. I'm just happy the game got over with and that we came away with the victory.”
Guys were making the extra pass and guys stepped up and knocked down shots. The amount of threes we hit is pretty ridiculous but guys stepped up. We were open and no one’s going to turn down open shots. We did a great job moving the ball and I think it’s a product of how unselfish we played all game long.
That’s how you get to shoot than many threes and make that many threes – just your ball movement and your spacing and everyone playing unselfish. When guys are that open it makes it a lot easier to make shots rather than taking contested jumpers. That has a lot to do with us getting stops and being able to get out in transition and space the floor like that.
(On the way that the game ended with the intentional fouls by Golden State) “Honestly, I don't think we did anything wrong. We played basketball the way we played for 48 minutes and I think they (Warriors) let the crowd get to their head a little bit. It happens, its competitive out there. Nobody wants to get a record or whatever on them. At the end of the day its just a win.”
(on his recent hot shooting from beyond the arc)
I’ve been feeling a lot better. I got off to a really slow start and it was frustrating because I’d been working on it all summer but hopefully I’ll be able to turn the corner and shoot the way that I’m capable of shooting it.
(On the way that the game ended with the intentional fouls by Golden State)
(On the Rockets hot shooting from behind the arc) “Sometimes that's the way it goes. Thankfully we were able to get a bunch of open looks and knock them down tonight and that's just the way it is sometimes. We are comfortable playing at home.”
(On the Rockets only having 9 turnovers tonight) “We were just trying to attack and just take what the defense gave us and I think tonight we did a really good job of being unselfish. We played the way we are capable of playing and I feel like we did that for most of the game.”
(On the win) “At the end of the day, we just continued to play, the crowd was into it but its still playing basketball and we were just taking the shots the defense were giving.”
(On whether or not he had an issue with Golden State fouling intentionally at the end of the game) “Not at all. That's what their coach told them to do. If it was reversed, and our coach told us to do the same thing, then that would be the case. That's what they were told to do so we can't really control that.”
(On being a part of a large margin winning game): “Maybe on the opposing side, I’m sure I have been. But, on the opposite side in a game like this where the opposing team is hitting almost every shot, moving the ball extremely well, low turnovers and doing every thing the right way, no. I think it’s the first time that we’ve done something like that all year.”
(On the opinion of the play of Golden State down the stretch): “I can understand from that standpoint. If I were the coach I would do everything in my power to have my players pretty much nit get embarrassed. We were hitting on all cylinders, all of our shots were falling. We were moving the ball and everything was clicking for us. We were getting stops when we needed to get stops and just capitalizing on the offensive end. Their coach made a call and their team followed through with it, and that’s fine. But all in all, I think we played a great game tonight.”
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS HEAD COACH MARK JACKSON
(On the game) “We got outplayed. They made shots. Give them credit, move forward, and we play tomorrow night. We own it, we didn’t play well. Give them credit. By no means are we going to accept giving up that many points and giving up open threes and transitions shots. We’re disappointed in that and we’re going to get better at that. Some nights, it’s not your night and it wasn’t ours and we didn’t play particularly well. That doesn’t mean lay down and surrender. That’s not in our DNA.”
(On fouling at the end of the game) “We’re not going to lay down. I’m an old school basketball player and an old school coach. If you cant appreciate that, that’s on you. We’re not going to lay down. If you’re going to try to get the record, we’re going to stop it. There is a way to do it, that’s all. Understand it, appreciate it, and I would expect nothing less if I was on the other side. As a team, we’re learning. Its nothing personal, but we have a goal and we have a mindset. And this is not last year’s Warriors.
(On the game) “They played really well, give them credit. They shot the ball great, there are going to be nights like that in the NBA. We’re going to play those guys three more times, but give them credit on those games.
(On the Warriors defense) “I don’t think we played our best defensively. They were hitting the open looks, they were hitting contested shots and then when they hit outside jumpers, then their shot fakes works because you have to close out tighter. They shot the ball great, really from top to bottom.”
(On the game) “Our rotations were not good enough and you can see that from them hitting 23 threes. That really messes up the defense because you have to run them off the line and then they started getting a lot of lay ups and dunks. They really shot the ball well tonight and we really didn’t have an answer to try to stop them. We were just a step slow coming out of the gate and we couldn’t recover. When Houston got their feet set, even there misses looked good. Offensively, we were fine.
(On the game) “We did not get back in transition and they were getting in the seams on pick and rolls, finding the paint too often. The way they spaced the floor when one guy gets in, then everybody else seemed open. We just have to make adjustments.”
(On the attempted record) “Throughout the whole game, you figured they’d cool off for just a minute, but we have to force them to take tougher shots and you just can’t give them open looks. They’re all NBA players and at any given time during the season, they can all get hot at the same time and it gets pretty ugly, pretty fast, especially if you don’t do anything about it. The crowd was into it and nobody likes to get embarrassed and give up NBA records. We tried to do what we could to not let that happen.
The Rockets reeled off a season-high 140 points on 46-of-91 (.505) shooting tonight, setting a new Toyota Center record for points scored. The previous high for Houston was 131 points by the Rockets twice before vs. Golden State (12/5/08 and 3/23/11) and again this season vs. New York (11/23/12).
The last time the Rockets scored 140-plus points in a game was in a 147-156 2OT loss vs. Dallas (4/11/95).
Houston was 23-of-40 (.575) from beyond the tonight, which matches the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a game of 23 set by Orlando at Sacramento (1/13/09). It also set Houston’s regular season record for 3-pointers made in a game, surpassing 17 vs. Toronto (3/25/99) and 17 vs. Milwaukee (12/22/01).
The Rockets also tied an NBA record for 3-point field goals made in a half by going 14-of-18 (.778) from beyond the arc in the first half tonight: 14 by Milwaukee vs. Phoenix (3/28/06), 14 by New York vs. Portland (3/14/12) and 14 by New York vs. Boston (4/17/12).
The last time the Rockets hit seven treys in a quarter was 8-of-13 in the fourth quarter at Utah (1/28/13).
Houston scored a season-best 77 first-half points on 26-of-47 (.553) from the field. Overall, Houston has now recorded two 70-point halves on the season. The Rockets also netted 72 first-half points vs. New York (11/23/12).
The Rockets had a season-best 35 assists tonight, surpassing a 32-assist night vs. Memphis (12/22/12).
Jeremy Lin had a game-high 28 points (10-16 FG, 5-8 3FG) and nine assists tonight. It marks his eighth 20-plus point performance of 2012-13. Lin set his career high in treys surpassing a 4-of-5 outing from downtown vs. San Antonio (12/10/12).
Patrick Patterson recorded his third double-double of the season, totaling 12 points (5-13 FG) and 10 rebounds tonight.
Chandler Parsons added 16 points (6-12 FG, 4-8 3FG) and eight assists tonight. Parsons also had 21 points (8-13 FG, 3-7 3FG) at Denver (1/30/13), and 24 points (9-17 FG, 3-6 3FG) and 10 boards vs. Charlotte (2/2/13).
Omer Asik had 11 points (5-7 FT) and grabbed 15 boards tonight to match his career best of five consecutive 10-plus rebounding games (12/19/12-12/28/12 and 1/26/13-2/5/13).
Jarrett Jack finished with a team-high 20 points (7-14 FG, 4-4 FT) off the bench tonight. Jack has now scored 10-plus points 33 times on the season and owns eight 20-plus outings.