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Thursday March 22, 2012 11:51 PM

Rockets Romp To Win Over Warriors

Total team effort helps Houston cruise to 109-83 victory over Golden State

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com




HOUSTON - On a night when the Rockets honored their star-laden Team of the 90s, the current version of the club paid homage the best way it knew how, putting together a clinic in total team basketball worthy of the all-time greats in attendance.

With Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry and Mario Elie looking on (fellow Team of the 90s honoree Kenny Smith was unable to attend due to his NCAA Tournament responsibilities with TNT), their Rockets contemporaries sliced and diced the Golden State Warriors from start to finish for a 109-83 win.

Houston’s dissection of the Warriors’ defense was so thorough and complete at times the contest took on the feel of a scrimmage, rather than a regular season contest. The ball moved briskly as the Rockets made one surgical incision after another, rarely allowing Golden State any opportunity to hope that it might be able to inject even the slightest bit of drama into the end result.

It was, to be sure, a workmanlike win for a Houston team in need of just such an effort, allowing the Rockets a rare opportunity to ease the load on its key players – a development that could prove significant prior to Saturday night’s showdown with the Dallas Mavericks.

“We’re really moving the ball well,” said Chandler Parsons, who finished with a game-high 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. “We’re playing so unselfish and it’s so much fun out there. Every night we could have a different leading scorer. We have such a balanced attack and I think that’s really hard to guard when we’re clicking on all cylinders like we were tonight.

“We’ve got great guys. We’ve got unselfish guys. Everyone likes each other in this locker room so it’s fun playing. If I have an open shot but Courtney Lee has a more open shot than I’m giving him the ball. It’s simple, but it’s about trying to make good decisions, not turning the ball over and making good winning plays.”

Parsons, in particular, has shown a propensity for doing precisely that during the past few weeks. The rookie from Florida continues to grow by leaps in bounds; a reality made manifest in the box scores he’s been stuffing on a nightly basis this month. Parsons’ March numbers are downright mind-boggling when taking into account his status as a second-round draft pick, as he’s found a way to pair his tremendously versatile defensive skills with offensive production like 13 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this month to go along with shooting 59 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range.  

Most impressive about Parsons’ play, however, is the contagious element it seems to possess. The rest of the Rockets have embraced this commitment to sound, all-around basketball on both ends of the court; the result of which seems to be a team that has successfully found a way to rebuild itself on the fly. Despite being forced into incorporating a new starting backcourt due to the injury absences of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, Houston’s execution on offense has been as good as it’s ever been this season during the past two games, and the club’s defense is showing signs of considerable growth as well. Credit Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee for their tremendous production in the their new roles to be sure, but salute, too, the efforts of their teammates and coaching staff who have put in so much work to make a difficult transition appear as seamless as possible.

These Rockets are still very much on a journey of self-discovery and they will undoubtedly encounter the occasional speed bump along the way. But what they have learned thus far should prove vital as they continue their push for the playoffs. Chief among those lessons is an art Houston’s back-to-back champs practiced to perfection: when five men play unselfishly with a complete commitment to the team, winning basketball is sure to follow.

“That is the beauty of this sport,” said Dragic, who was dynamite again while scoring 17 points and dishing out 9 assists in just 30 minutes of action. “Everybody is sharing the ball. We are playing well. If five guys are scoring 10 points or more, then it is much easier for us. Everybody is going to be dangerous when we are sharing the ball.”

QUOTES

KEVIN MCHALE

(On the game) “That first unit played really well. They (Warriors) went a little bit small and we matched down in the second quarter but Sammie (Dalembert) had a fantastic 3rd quarter for us and Luis (Scola) was finding people, passing the ball, you know the ball was moving pretty well. Then in the 4th quarter, Courtney Fortson did a nice job of letting Goran (Dragic) rest a bit in a big game and in a game that he (Dragic) didn't have to play big minutes, and that was key for us.”

(On matching down) “After the first half, Greg Buckner said to me 'Make sure we don't match down.' and I said, 'You're right'. Sometimes it is the easy thing to do but not the right thing to do as long as our bigs are active. When you stay big and they go small, you've got to really make them pay in the paint. You've got to be able to block shots and really control the paint and we were able to do that. We out-rebounded them (Warriors) pretty heavily.”

(On the progress of the Rockets) “It's a tough league. There are some times when we will actually have a really high contest shot night. This is a tough league; you know we sometimes keep different statistics (between the teams).  Then, there are nights when the score will be high, we won't have been very good defensively and they miss shots. Overall, they are starting to get better for this team. Every team has an identity and every team has strengths and weaknesses. We are able to cover up our weaknesses better now.  I think we are more aware of exactly what we are doing and we are taking away, for the most part, the easy baskets continually. Every team goes through a period where you have a tough time.”

Every team has an identity and every team has strengths and weaknesses. We’re able to cover up our weaknesses now. I think more people are aware of what we’re doing. We’re taking away, for the most part, a lot of the (other team’s) easy baskets continually, even though every team goes through a period where you have a tough time guarding – the other night it was Sessions and that mid screen and roll. But for the most part we’re able to find a defensive rhythm in most games.

LUIS SCOLA

(On how they played in the game) “We were playing well early in the game. Then, we played similar to the Charlotte game. Going towards half time, they (Warriors) came back then we put the game in jeopardy a little bit and then we came back really strong in the second half and got a huge gap on the scoreboard. That's what's going to happen with these teams that don't have a lot of chance to play the players. They're going to come and they are going to play hard if you let them. If you are solid, a lot of times they will give way. They will give up and you will walk away with a win. You got to be solid, especially early in the game. You don't want to give them hope and make them feel like they have a chance.”

(On playing the point guard role) “My coaches were asking me what happened. 'Are you sick? Do you have a fever or something?' I told them that some of them heard me. I had to pass it, he (Chandler Parsons) was wide open.”

We were talking in the locker room about cuts and trying to get something going and they worked. It’s good when you make up a play and you talk about something and it works – it gives you a lot of confidence and it opens up a lot of things after that. So it’s something we can continue to work on and try to take advantage of it.

CHANDLER PARSONS

We’re really moving the ball well. We’re playing so unselfish and it’s so much fun out there. Every night we could have a different leading scorer. We have such a balanced attack and I think that’s really hard to guard when we’re clicking on all cylinders like we were tonight.

We’ve got great guys. We’ve got unselfish guys. Everyone likes each other in this locker room so it’s fun playing. If I have an open shot but Courtney Lee has a more open shot than I’m giving him the ball. It’s simple, but it’s about trying to make good decisions, not turning the ball over and making good winning plays.

(On the Rockets defensive effort) “The defense was great tonight. We had a great scouting report. We understood that they (Warriors) have a lot of big time shooters and we didn't want to leave off them. We wanted to clog the paint and help early but we didn't want to give them any open looks. We followed the scouting report really well. In transition, we got back and limited their transition baskets. Basically, following the scouting report, we did a really good job.”

SAMUEL DALEMBERT

(On the win) “We knew that they (Warriors) were kind of small and we had to go out there and really get inside. We started giving (Luis) Scola the ball and he was scoring for us. Chandler (Parsons) really had a big game today. We took it to them in the paint and it worked out for us.”

(On the Rockets team play) “It's the NBA. There's a reason those guys are professionals. In any given game on any night, a team can go out there and get going. We try to stay on top of the young guys and tell them, 'hey, you've got to do your homework before you start playing these guys and knowing exactly who you are going to play.' They have been doing a good job. I am very proud to see how the young guys are responding and how we are playing as a team too.”

GORAN DRAGIC

(On the importance of the win) “We knew that this game was important, especially the last game that we won against the Lakers, the coaching staff was saying if you don't win that game (vs. Warriors) tonight, we are giving back the momentum. We scored some easy baskets and our defense was solid. They (Warriors) came back a little bit but then in the 3rd quarter we really focused on our defense. We were hitting shots. Luis (Scola) was great under the basket and then the second unit came in and played great.”

(On the Rockets team effort) “That is the beauty of this sport. Everybody is sharing the ball. We are playing well. If five guys are scoring 10 points or more, then it is much easier for us. Everybody is going to be dangerous when we are sharing the ball. I think Luis (Scola) got 7 assists which is great.”

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS COACH MARK JACKSON

(On his teams play) “I was very surprised with our play. We are putting high demands on guys, but at the same time we expect energy and effort. For some reason collectively we did not have it. Once again dominated in the paint area, 58 points in the paint; we have to find a way to battle. I know its asking guys to do a lot, but we have to be better. We responded and we bounced back, the problem is we can’t just keep having one having one great win and then fall asleep the next game or get out worked. To win games we have to be the hardest working team on the floor every single night.”

(On Luis Scola and Chandler Parsons’ play) “Those guys do exactly what you expect them to do, they work extremely hard, make plays, high IQ basketball players. They hurt us tonight”

RICHARD JEFFERSON

(On the teams play)  “There is no excuse for being tired in the NBA. We have a pretty young team and your body should be able to recover pretty quickly. The last couple of game we haven’t come out with the right type of intensity. We need to improve on that.’

(On Luis Scola and Chandler Parsons) “As a team they execute extremely well. When you don’t have a strong defense, they are going to capitalize on that. And guys that are energy guys typically play well against us. These guys are energy guys and every game they put it out on the floor. We struggle against those type of players and it was pretty evident the way we played tonight.”

DAVID LEE

(On his teams play and the lack of energy)  “It was a tough game on the road; we were on a back to back. Houston played very, very well and out matched us on the front line. The game started out poor and that didn’t help getting of that bad start.

(Playing against Luis Scola) “He is a veteran guy; he knows how to use his body and got a shot off. He is a good passer as well, he plays that European-style game and he does a very good job at making his teammates better. He played real well against us tonight.”

NOTES

Houston recorded its fourth 20-plus point victory of the season with a 109-83 (+26) triumph over Golden State tonight, evening the season series with the Warriors at 1-1.

The Rockets made 24-of-33 free throws at Golden State (2/12/12) and went 23-of-27 from the line tonight. Houston also hit 134-of-172 (.779) free throws in the four-game series last season.

Houston now holds an overall record of 16-9 when wearing their alternate uniforms featuring the “ketchup-and-mustard” color scheme (11-4 in 2009-10, 2-4 in 2010-11 and 3-1 in 2011-12).

The Rockets scored 34 of their 56 first-half points in the paint, finishing with 58 down low tonight. Houston’s season high still stands at 60 points in the paint vs. Charlotte (3/14/12).

Houston improved to 15-0 this season when keeping their opponent below 90 points. Overall, Houston has recorded 27 consecutive victories when holding its opponent under 90 points.

The Rockets outrebounded the Warriors by +17 (48-31) tonight, marking the 10th time this season Houston has recorded a double-digit rebounding differential over its opponent.

Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 20 points (8-16 FG, 2-4 3FG), a career-high 11 boards and four assists. Parsons, who now owns three career 20-point games, picked up his first career double-double tonight.

Luis Scola posted 18 points (8-10 FG) and a career-high-tying seven assists tonight. Scola originally set his career best in assists with seven vs. Minnesota (2/8/11).

Goran Dragic totaled 17 points (5-9 FG, 5-6 FT), nine assists and three steals tonight. Overall, Dragic has reached double-figure scoring in a career-high 10 consecutive outings (3/6/12-3/22/12). Dragic still has a double-double in three of his last five games.

Samuel Dalembert notched 15 points (5-7 FG, 5-6 FT) and 10 rebounds tonight. Dalembert now has nine double-doubles in 2011-12 and a team-high 16 double-digit rebounding games.

Courtney Fortson had his best outing since joining the Rockets, netting 12 points (4-11 FG, 3-4 FT) off the bench tonight.

Richard Jefferson, who has a season-best 19 points in three games this season, topped the Warriors with 14 points (6-10 FG, 2-2 3FG) tonight.

Charles Jenkins led Golden State with a career-high six assists tonight, surpassing his five-assist outing at Detroit (1/15/12).

Golden State signed free agent center Mickell Gladness to a 10-day contract earlier today. He picked up two blocks and a pair of rebounds in 9:57 of action tonight.

Brandon Rush tied his season high with three blocks tonight. He also swatted away three shots vs. Miami (1/10/12).

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