Posted November 24, 2012

Three pointers: Rockets drown Knicks in a scoring deluge

Carmelo Anthony, Chandler Parsons, Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks, Omer Asik

Chandler Parsons (25) and the Rockets scorched the Knicks with a huge offensive outing. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

By Rob Mahoney

A game heavy with narrative implication turned out to be all about the basketball. Friday may have marked Jeremy Lin’s first game against his former team, but Linsanity was a mere subplot in the Houston Rockets’ demonstrative 131-103 win over the New York Knicks. (RECAP | BOX)

• Despite the occasional string of sound defensive rotations, this was a contest dictated by pure offensive potential. Chandler Parsons improbably kept pace with Carmelo Anthony in a first-half scoring contest — Houston’s second-year forward had 26 points before halftime, one more than his career high for a game, and he finished with 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting  — and the Rockets took his lead to exploit the Knicks at virtually every point of defensive weakness. They pulled center Tyson Chandler away from the basket with incredibly high ball screens and challenged Anthony and the Knicks’ guards to provide sufficient help on the back lines. James Harden manipulated New York defenders with his deceptive ball control and footwork, and he racked up 16 free-throw attempts (making all of them) en route to 33 points. Houston doesn’t run the most complicated offense, but its quick-hitting, screen-heavy attack forced New York to contort defensively far more than it felt comfortable, if not far more than it realistically could.

Anthony was so brilliant offensively that he actually started to disrupt the Knicks’ overall efficiency as a result. With just a single source of scoring to rely on, New York made a conscious effort to get the ball to Anthony on possession after possession. The result was an awesome 37 points on just 24 shots, but also a team-wide offense hard-pressed to create through any alternative avenue. Anthony should hardly be blamed for the fact that his teammates failed to either create or convert open shots, but it was interesting to see how his hot shooting compromised the offensive efforts of a team that entered the game leading the NBA in points scored per possession.

• There was nothing all that impressive about his performance or final stat line (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, four turnovers), but Lin’s restraint was admirable as he faced the team that declined to match Houston’s three-year, $25.1 million offer last summer. Many players opt to use these kinds of circumstances as a chance to make statements, but Lin played the same way he has all season, and with similar results.

He pushed on the break against New York’s shaky transition defense and drew defenders in order to create scoring opportunities for others. That creative value was lost a bit on a Rockets team that thrived on the extra pass, but Lin was a vital propeller of Houston’s pace and offense, which shot 51.7 percent from the field and made 14-of-25 from three-point range. Plus, he deferred to Parsons, who was in the midst of a career performance, and Harden, who had the Knicks wrapped around his finger all night. Lin contributed to a dominant offense without overplaying his role, and though that won’t earn him all that many punny headlines in Saturday’s papers, it was just what the Rockets needed.

• While Lin played a balanced game and both Parsons and Harden did the heavy lifting, Omer Asik was essential to the Rockets’ efforts. One doesn’t often look to dirty-work players in the aftermath of a 28-point victory, but Asik deserves ample credit for all of the little things he does so well: the awkward rebounding (he grabbed 14 boards), the brick-wall screen setting, the odd finish around the basket (he scored 18 points) and his sterling work as a one-man defense. Asik does it all except score consistently, and though that deficit can be painful at times, it’s clear that the Rockets are already improving in their capacity to handle that added pressure.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson had his team blitz pick-and-roll ball handlers to start the second half — a scenario that would have completely derailed Houston’s half-court offense a few weeks ago. But on Friday, the Rockets handled those situations with poise. After setting a screen for Harden on one possession, Asik rolled patiently to the high post and waited there to offer his teammate a safety release. The next time down the floor, the high trap against Harden triggered a quick pass-out and counter drive from Lin, who was able to attack the basket easily with Chandler pulled so far away from the hoop.

With Asik doing so much so well and Houston finally learning how to best play with him on offense, the Rockets are well positioned to get fantastic production and defense from their newly signed center for quite some time.

10 comments
Ching Ching
Ching Ching

Lin only needs to help his teammates to flourish, excel, and shine.  When Lin joined New York Knicks, Novak, Tyson, and Fields and many others did it.  Now with Houston Rockets, Parson, Asik, Harden are doing it.  Lin himself does not need to show off himself by being a ball hog because one-man show can never last.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

The Rockets had a hot shooting game. Big deal. The Knicks are back to being who we know they are. JR Smith was not going to shoot 70% all season. Two mediocre teams.

P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Every team is a reflection of their main star. The star's attitude, practice habits & focus sets the standard. When a defensively lazy, selfish player with a sense of entitlement like Carmelo Anthony is your leader, it's  going to be a long season. I still laugh at the people who over-reacted to a good 8 game start. 

wizzla761
wizzla761

Like the people who overeacted to Lin's first 8 games in NY

wizzla761
wizzla761

Like the people who overeacted to Lins first 8 games in NY

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu
Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

 @P0is0nedKoolA1 You would be right up until this year.

 

Melo showed up for the start of this season about 15 pounds lighter and with a new dedication to non-offense aspects of the game.  J.R.s shooting might be a fluke.  Being in much better shape and playing with more intensity aint no fluke son.

 

Obviously they can't and won't sustain the level of play they had through the first 8 games, but they have established themselves as a legitimate threat to the heat in the playoffs even if they would still be the underdogs in that matchup.

David S
David S

This is a really well written article with excellent analyses. 

 

Chandler Parsons shows definite signs that he may become a star in the NBA. The same is true for Omer Asik. 

 

Jeremy Lin and James Harden both do a good job of setting up team mates for open shots. 

 

Last year, Steve Novak became much more of an offensive presence for the knicks when on the receiving end of Jeremy Lin's passes. Could be that Chandler Parsons is benefitting in the same manner this year.

GaryGuillermo
GaryGuillermo

I was happy to see NY get off to a good start this year . . . as an old Knick fan.  But it is a long season.  One guy does not make a team.

dblasphemy
dblasphemy

This Bulls fan sorely misses the Turkish Hammer!