Rockets Take Down The Nets
Houston makes it look easy, rolls to 112-87 romp over New Jersey
NEWARK, NJ - New Jersey never had a chance.
The moment Kyle Lowry was cleared to play, it was over. The Rockets talismanic and rapidly-rising-through-the-ranks point guard made sure of that. Showing no ill effects from a sore left foot, Lowry helped Houston seize control of Tuesday nights contest right from the outset and the Rockets rolled all over the Nets from there, cruising to a 112-87 victory.
Kyle certainly didnt look like he was hurting at all at the start of that game, Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman said of his point guard who finished just three rebounds shy of recording his second triple-double of the month. He got us off to a big start again We had the ball moving and we pushed it at them from the very start and thats what we wanted to do.
Indeed, the way in which Houston carved up the Nets was so clinical and so clean it made one wonder if this surgical dissection even left a scar. Incredibly, after a season that started with the Rockets all too frequently falling victim to some of the NBAs lesser lights, Houston has now elevated its play to such a high level that the dregs of the league simply dont stand a chance. The Rockets are just too in sync, too precise and too dialed in.
Dont know your defensive assignments and rotations inside and out? Not sure how best to attack Chuck Hayes in the low post (hint: just dont)? Still havent located Kevin Martin as he makes a beeline to his favorite spot just beyond the 3-point line in transition? Then prepare to suffer a similar fate to the one experienced by the Nets, who found themselves so overwhelmed and overmatched that a mercy rule could have been implemented by halftime and surely no one involved would have felt a need to protest.
Were happy, were having fun and were flowing, said Lowry, whose final line included 16 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, all in a tidy 29 minutes of action. We know whos going to get the ball, how were going to score, how we want to score and how we want to play.
That much is readily apparent to anyone whos consistently watched the Rockets play since the All Star break. Houstons record during that stretch is now 13-4 with eight of those wins coming by 15 points or more, and seven of those eight occurring in the month of March alone. In other words, the Rockets arent just winning, they are playing elite basketball. At some point in late February, the light bulb went on and everything started to click. Now everyone knows their role, everyone has bought into the system in place and the end result is an on-floor product that is almost as unstoppable as it is easy on the eyes.
The ringleader of it all is Lowry, whose prodigious March numbers mirror the type of success the team has enjoyed in the win column. The Philadelphia-native is averaging more than 20 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds per game this month, with shooting percentages that are outstanding across the board. Whats more, hes become an extension of his coach on the floor, making all the right reads and play calls, ensuring that the Rockets offense never misses a beat.
[Kyles] an extremely smart player, said Adelman. Theres a lot of times when well be in a timeout and Ill look to him or hell have a suggestion and its probably along the same lines as Im thinking.
Our offense is one that you have to find your strength. You have to know what your strength is in the offense. But usually its the players on the floor who are the catalysts and a guy like Kyle, for instance, hes a catalyst for that But I just think this group of guys, theyve been playing hard for two years now and they stay with it, they practice it, they listen, theyre easy to coach and as a result, you see the results on the court.
Tuesday night that meant yet another dominating Houston win. But in retrospect, perhaps the game was over before it even began. The Rockets had put in the necessary time, hard work and repetition that allowed them to reach this higher level of hoops consciousness. Now, only injury or some similar misfortune could counteract their sublime chemistry and cohesion.
So the second Houstons ringleader stepped out on the floor, the handwriting was on the wall: Kyle Lowry and the Rockets were about to roll; and the Nets never had a chance.
It was a good win for us. I thought we came out with a lot of energy and played very well offensively. We got 30 assists and 9 turnovers. We had the ball moving and we pushed it at them from the very start and thats what we wanted to do.
Were playing with a lot of confidence right now and, like I said, I was really pleased with the energy we had tonight. After losing in Miami the other night where we played pretty good but didnt defend them very well, I thought we came out tonight and did a nice job. They hurt us on the boards a little bit and Lopez hurt us some, but for the most part these guys all understand what they can do within our offense and theyve been going to their strengths.
Kyle certainly didnt look like he was hurting at all at the start of that game. He got us off to a big start again. Its important going into the game tomorrow night in Philly that we should have a lot of energy tomorrow, too.
I think weve been playing at a really high level and I think its because weve had guys that have been around, with Luis and Chuck four years and some guys three years, and theyve been on the court doing it. And because of the moves weve made, theyve had to step up. Weve thrown them out there on the court and fortunately theyre comfortable playing with what were doing.
I think its the way we play, players like to play that way and theyre rewarded if they make the right cuts and do the right things. Our offense is one that you have to find your strength. You have to know what your strength is in the offense. But usually its the players on the floor who are the catalysts and a guy like Kyle, for instance, hes a catalyst for that. Kevin Martin can get his shots but hopefully its within our offense and everything else. But I just think this group of guys, theyve been playing hard for two years now and they stay with it, they practice it, they listen, theyre easy to coach and as a result, you see the results on the court.
[Kyles] an extremely smart player. Theres a lot of times when well be in a timeout and Ill look to him or hell have a suggestion and its probably along the same lines as Im thinking.
(did your foot hinder you at all?): It was a little sore. Its really tender right now but a good team win for us is always worth it.
(taking care of business against lesser teams): We just play. Were just playing good basketball. Everyone knows their role and everyone knows the type of situation were going to be in. Were just trying to get as many wins as we possibly can to try to make our push.
(importance of being on same page as head coach): I think its really important. I think he gives me a lot of freedom and has given me a lot of confidence to go out there and be a good point guard. Being on the same page, the same wavelength, getting guys involved and knowing who to give the ball to, its really important. Everyone says you have to be the extension of the coach on the floor and thats what Im trying to be.
Were happy, were having fun and were flowing. We know whos going to get the ball, how were going to score, how we want to score and how we want to play. Were confident were just finally getting something going.
Today we were focused from the very first minute. We got up on the scoreboard and we never let them back in. Everybody was ready to play and everybody was concentrating and thats why were winning games. We werent like that early in the season and we are like that now and thats why were winning and thats why we were losing back then.
Focus, concentrating, and everybodys on a high level. I dont know what comes first: when you focus and are ready to play and youre solid you play at a high level automatically, or when youre not youre going to have bad games and everything is going to look easy and when you play the other way its going to look hard. I think its all related. When youre focused and ready to play and when youre in the game every game youve got more chances that youre playing the game at a high level so thats why everybody is playing at a high level right now.
(taking care of lesser teams better now): At the end of the season youre either going to compete and play for something, or youre going to fall back and count the days until the summers over. Here, with this team, we love competing with each other. Earlier in the season, we let games like these get away. Well, now, we know what we want to do; we know how were going to win and we play that way.
Everybody knows their roles, we know where the shots are going to come from, the leadership, the effort. Were just playing well right now despite some of the losses weve had since the break; even the games weve lost we couldve won.
Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson
(On Nets Start): First quarters we have been getting off to really poor starts. We were cooking good there for a minute. I think the score was 7-2 and then we made three defensive errors in a row, two of which led to three pointers and then the onslaught began. There was a stretch where we started to turn the ball over. We are just not quick enough when we turn the ball over to get back in transition. It was a culmination of defensive errors, poor offense, which lead to them having a 34-21 first quarter lead. Right now with the state of our team, we are not that good to survive early poor starts.
(On Houstons Fast Break Offense): Just what we thought about them, they hurt us with that fast break offense in Houston and that was when we were relatively healthy. We got to do a better job of getting back on defense and making the defense pay a little bit more on offense. We have poor spacing, and then we missed some shots.
(On Current Coaching Experience): I knew what I signed up for and I knew it would be a lot of long nights, but thats what the challenge was. When youre a team that was decimated like we were and we had to change over the roster, we knew we would have some long days and it would be a process. That is why we have been preaching process. We knew we would have some difficult moments, disappointing results, embarrassing losses, but that doesnt sway us one bit. We are going to watch some film tonight and be in early tomorrow for our next game.
Nets forward Kris Humphries
(On the game)
I think we all just have to take it amongst ourselves and be mentally prepared to go out there and do our jobs. Its a tough way to play. You want to have fun and compete, and having games like this just takes it to a get-it- over type attitude. I love playing basketball, playing in front of fans, and being able to do that. If you can do that year round that would be unbelievable. We have to play the right way and trust each other and really do what weve done when weve had success this year.
(On if there is motivation behind everybody else still having something on the line this year)
I was saying it earlier today, however each individual on this team has to motivate themselves, you have to do it. There are plenty of reasons to play hard and it should never be a problem of motivation. Luckily we have another one tomorrow and were trying to turn it around.
(On the Knicks game tomorrow possibly having extra motivation for them)
All that talk is more for the media but for us, its just competing. It is a situation where we kind of have a lot of the same fan base and stuff like that so I see there is kind of a rivalry in that sense, but at the end of the day its about competing. Were just going out there and trying to win whether were playing for the playoffs or not or whatever the case is, you play to win. Thats what were going to try to do.
Nets guard Sasha Vujacic
(On where this game slipped away)
First half, somehow we started well. First quarter we were in the game and they started a little run. They played the right way. They know how to play, they know each other. They play tough so they won.
(On if he was surprised with their lack of fire this game)
Yeah, I dont know what happened. I dont know what was the purpose of us playing like that but we tried. We wanted to win obviously, but we have to flush this one down the toilet. Tomorrow is probably the biggest game of the season and we have to come in with the right mentality.
(On if they overlooked this game due to the magnitude of tomorrows game)
Maybe, maybe a little bit. I think that it was a lack of focus today or something went wrong that they just caught that momentum and we were trying to get it back but they didnt let us back in the game. As soon as we got something they called a timeout or they made a big basket so tomorrow; its a big game.