The Houston Rockets won a crucial game 4 in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. What are the key takeaways from the big victory?
In case you somehow missed the Houston Rockets getting a Game 4 win on the road over the Oklahoma City Thunder, I advise you to not watch the final minute or so of it. That is unless you love watching teams look clueless on how to manage the clock or maintain possession of the ball.
Regardless, the big thing is that the Rockets pulled out a 113-109 victory over the Thunder to take a (gulp) 3-1 series lead.
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One of the takeaways from Game 3 was that the role players had to step up and that’s exactly what they did.
Nene had 28 points and 10 rebounds on a perfect 12-for-12 from the field, while Eric Gordon posted 18 points and eight rebounds and Lou Williams added 18 points and seven rebounds.
Another game, another poor start from the Rockets in the first quarter. Houston went down by double digits early on, but once again weathered the storm to cut the deficit by the end of both the first and second quarters.
However, those slow starts could be negated by a change to the starting lineup. Whether it is inserting Eric Gordon in place of Ryan Anderson or swapping Clint Capela for Nene, the Rockets could use an injection to the starting group.
Nene has been incredible against the Thunder this series and provides a physical presence down low, yet at the same time a more-than-capable roll man for Harden.
Gordon provides additional play-making and scoring and has been more than solid defensively in the series to hold his own in the starting lineup.
Regardless of what change it is, Mike D’Antoni must inject some energy and fresh faces in to the starting lineup to prevent yet another sluggish start from the Rockets.
2) Don’t hesitate to shoot
One of the strangest things to see in a Rockets game is a player passing up a good look from three in favor of putting the ball on the floor and trying to make something out of nothing.
It has happened a couple of times in each game this series, but has occurred more and more frequently as cold shooters become even more hesitant.
Ryan Anderson has been the main culprit of this, as his cold shooting (3-for-21 from beyond the arc in the series) has made him more hesitant to pull the trigger on quality three-point looks. Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza have also done this too many times, which can kill the Rockets’ offense.
Anderson and Ariza are not supposed to be making plays with the ball and Gordon is best suited staying at the three-point line when playing alongside Harden.
Plus, when players pass up quality looks on three-pointers, they are usually met in the paint by two physical bigs from Oklahoma City, swallowing up the offensive possession for Houston.
The Rockets shot 35 threes in Game 4, which is more than they usually have in the series, but still significantly lower than their average attempts per game in the regular season (40.3).
The Rockets’ offense is at its best when shooters are releasing three after three as a result of Harden’s play-making.
Credit must be given to the Thunder’s defense, as they have done an excellent job of running shooters off the three-point line and forcing them to create with the ball in their hands. However, several Rockets have simply gotten to hesitant to shoot, which can kill the offense.
Shooters shoot. It’s time the Rockets lived by that motto.
The Rockets now head back to Houston to try and close out the series in five tough games. It is important that Houston makes a change to avoid another slow start and is more willing to hoist up three-pointers.