0- Patrick Beverley’s assists in 34+ minutes: It has been touched upon often by both fans of the team as well as casual observers: the Houston Rockets would benefit greatly from a more-gifted passing point guard than Pat Bev. Most of his strengths are attached to his tenacious energy on the defensive end, but a zero assist/four turnover game is unacceptable from a team’s starting point guard. The grumbles in Houston for a gifted passer to run the offense are growing louder– especially as Beverley’s defense begins to tail away from his superb effort last year.
0/4- Josh Smith’s shooting from three-point range: Smith is always going to be an easy target following a Rockets’ loss, but tonight there may be good reason. While the 2/11 overall shooting is troubling, it is the 0/4 from downtown that really forces Rockets fans to scratch their head. Perhaps his 2/4 performance from deep in the team’s last game, versus the Brooklyn Nets, may have inspired him to hoist the four three-pointers tonight, who knows. What we do know is that any time 36% of Smith’s shots in a game are threes, there may be a problem.
3- The number of bench players used by the Rockets tonight (Smith, Corey Brewer, Alexey Shved): It was surprising to see the Rockets run with a short bench on the first game of a back-to-back, especially considering that Jason Terry didn’t see the court at all tonight. While an unannounced injury for both Terry and Kostas Papanikolaou may be the cause, it will still be interesting to see the bench rotation tomorrow night versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets’ bench has been a question mark all season (despite the additions of Brewer and Smith), and following strong games from the Magic frontcourt, one would have to assume that the Rockets are considering any available options to bring in depth at the center position.
20- The number of turnovers for the Rockets tonight– led by James Harden (seven), Smith (four), and Beverley (4): Despite shooting 50 percent on the evening, the 20 turnovers for the Rockets allowed the young Magic team to increase the pace of the game to better suit their offensive style. Very rarely will this Rockets team shoot better than 50% from the field and 87% from the line and end up with the loss, but losing the turnover battle–especially late–will turn the tide, as the two Rockets turnovers in the final 1:43 helped the Magic outscore Houston 12-6 to put the game away.
Not all the numbers condemned the Rockets tonight, however, as at least one statistic should provide a little hope to Houston fans:
6/7- Trevor Ariza‘s field-goal shooting: After suffering through a horrendous two-game stretch where he was unable to shoot better than 40% from the field, Ariza has now shot 60% or better in three of the Rockets’ past four games. Much of this may be attributable to his more conservative shot selection, but regardless of the reasoning, Rockets fans should be excited to see Ariza begin to find confidence in his jump shot again.
7/7- Dwight Howard’s free-throw shooting: This was only the eighth time in Dwight’s 11-year career that he shot 100% on more than four free-throw attempts. Dwight is now shooting 78% over his last four games, and may be feeling a bit more comfortable from the line– an important factor in the Rockets’ offensive gameplan late in fourth quarters.
The Rockets will have to move on quickly from this disheartening loss, as the team will be back home to face the Thunder (18-19) tomorrow night in Houston.