Houston Rockets

3-pointers: Takeaways from the Rockets’ win against the Knicks


Published 8:26 am, Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Rockets spent the days since their loss to the 76ers off the court but in the video room. They cancelled Tuesday’s practice to rest legs, but did meet to look at the video. They cancelled Wednesday’s shootaround to avoid the New York traffic from Lower Manhattan to Madison Square Garden, but gathered again.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni called the losses on the way to New York “abysmal” and saw all he wanted from games with a lack of “toughness and grittiness.” He got that on Wednesday, with the Rockets turning the game around with defense that allowed them to play pressure free the rest of the way.


They needed the win, they said. They probably also needed to win the way the did, even if only to make the next gathering in the video room more pleasant.

  1. After a game in which the Rockets put up 119 points, they said defense was the key. In context, there was no doubt. The Rockets had gotten off to another slow start. They did not quite allow the 30.5 first-quarter points they gave up on average in the four games before Wednesday, but the Knicks scored 27 and would reach 30 just seconds into the second quarter on a Tim Hardaway Jr. 3-pointer. The Rockets, however, had their defensive-minded second unit on the floor and for the next six minutes, shut down the Knicks. New York missed its next nine shots as the Rockets ran through a 16-0 run to a double-digit lead. They were never challenged again. They switched on screens, unafraid to have Kristaps Porzingis shoot contested 2s over Eric Gordon or James Harden in the first quarter or Luc Mbah a Moute or P.J. Tucker in the second quarter. Ryan Anderson continued his recent run of strong defensive games. The Knicks’ young star, the third-leading scorer in the NBA, was held to 7 of 18 shooting with just 7 of 18 shooting. Hardaway Jr. got loose, often on the break, but the Knicks managed little else consistently. The Knicks made 43.3 percent of their shots, but just 8 of 27 3-pointers. The Knicks are not a great offensive team. Their shooting was just slightly worse than their norm. But in their three-game winning streak heading into the game, including the win in Cleveland, they had averaged 111.3 points on 47.2 percent shooting and 40.2 percent 3-point shooting. They could not come close to that, with the Rockets’ defense taking control of the game.
  2. The advantage that comes with the Rockets’ ability to generate so many good looks from beyond the 3-point line and their willingness to take more than any team ever has is that they don’t have to shoot phenomenally well to put up large numbers. Their 36.5 percent shooting was more than good enough when taking 52 3-pointers, more than any team ever had before last season. The Rockets moved to 3-0 when making at least 15 3-pointers after going 37-5 in those games last season. The Rockets put up at least 50 for the second time in their past four games, the 15th time a team has shot 50 3s in a game in NBA history. Of those 15 games, the Rockets were the team with 50 3s attempted in 12 of them. They should not feel pressure to hit a high percentage when taking that many, but when a team misses, it often cannot help but react. As with the win in Charlotte, the Rockets fired away anyway, knowing they would get on a run eventually. That came in the third quarter when they made 8 of 13 3s and shot 70 percent overall to blow the game open.
  3. Anderson insisted he had no thoughts of showing the Knicks or Madison Square Garden fans what they could have had. He knew that the Rockets would have been willing to send him to the Knicks in a deal for Carmelo Anthony. He also never really gave it much thought because the Knicks had no interest and talks never progressed. He did not want to play for the Knicks, where he would have been behind their best and most important player and he did not want to leave Houston, anyway. But he knew it was the Knicks’ decision that kept him in Houston and could have taken offense if he were so inclined. Even if that did not drive him, it could have added some satisfaction after he scored 21 points – his third game in the past four with at least 20 points – and exceled defensively. Anderson outplayed Porzingis. Though he never would have supplanted the Knicks’ young star in a rotation in New York, for one night, Anderson was hitting shots off the dribble and even on a drive through a Porzingis foul for a three-point play. Anderson’s play has been a key to the Rockets’ 5-1 road record. That might not make the Knicks regret their decision. His contract is still longer than Enes Kanter’s and Doug McDermott’s and the players the Knicks got from the Thunder for Anthony do not play Porzingis’ position. But as Anderson left the Garden, he had to feel good about showing what the Knicks could have had, even if he kept saying that was not his motivation.

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