Rock Bottom

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets get trounced in Miami 129-100

There is nothing redeemable about this game for Houston. Absolutely nothing.

The best course of action after an embarrassing loss like this is to put your head down and pray you win the next one because that's the only way to cleanse your aura. In possibly one of the more humiliating losses in franchise history, the Rockets went to Miami, dropped a complete dud, and made a mockery of the word 'defense' in the process.

The story of the game will forever be the first quarter, where the Rockets allowed the Heat to score 46 seemingly unimpeded points and only put up 14 themselves. Houston allowed Miami to get a series of backdoor cuts, uncontested three-pointers, and transition opportunities. The onslaught felt endless and it forced Mike D'Antoni to make some drastic substitutions early in the game after introducing his new starting lineup, featuring Eric Gordon at small forward.

While Houston did a much better job at containing the Heat in quarters 2, 3, and 4 (83 points allowed combined), it was already too late. The first quarter deficit was just too much to climb back from and the Rockets could never get their offense rolling. The shooting struggles continued on for Houston as they a putrid 29% (14 of 48) from 3-point range while the Heat were shooting at a combined Stephen-Curry-like clip of 44% (18 of 41).

It's unclear whether or not the shooting struggles and opponent shooting percentage will balance out for the Rockets, but that's beside the point for Houston at the moment. Their defense in transition and off the ball needs to get to a passable level before they begin to point the finger at shooting disparities.

Star of the game: While he wasn't sharp defensively, especially off the ball, James Harden's scoring and drives to the basket are the only reason Houston didn't lose by 60. Harden logged 29 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 26 minutes. This included 14 trips to the free throw line where he was a perfect 14 of 14. Due to his poor effort defensively, Harden finished the game a -17.

Honorable mention: While he's not the star of the game, Chris Clemons was the only Rocket you could say with a healthy conscience played well. Clemons posted 14 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block on 4 of 9 shooting from 3-point range. Clemons was a part of the stretch that helped get the Rockets from "unwatchable" to "simply embarrassing" distance. D'Antoni said he'd been trying to find spots to play Clemons and this game may have earned him time on Monday against the Grizzlies.

Key moment: Houston's first quarter was one for the books, literally. The Rockets allowed the Heat to score second most points in franchise opening quarter history and the 32-point differential was the third-largest deficit posted in NBA history after the 1st quarter. Houston allowed 18 points in the paint, 6 second chance opportunities, and turned the ball over 5 times that led to 8 fast break points. It was truly stunning how bad they looked defensively.

Up next: Houston travels to Memphis on Monday at 7:00 p.m. to take on the Grizzlies.

Few things are darker in sports than a 21-point fourth quarter collapse after losing three straight prior to the game. Every game from this point forward becomes progressively more 'win-now'.

Chris Paul absolutely demolished the Rockets in the first half, scoring 27 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field and 4 of 5 shooting from three-point range. Houston couldn't manage to slow him down until they started trapping Paul more and more in the second half and forcing other Thunder players to beat them. What the Rockets weren't counting on was for it to actually happen. Danilo Gallinari absolutely torched the Rockets in the fourth quarter (12 points on 3 of 4 shooting from three-point range and 3 of 3 shooting from the free throw line).

The Rockets were rolling in this game when they went small with P.J. Tucker at center (41 minutes played). Clint Capela was also in foul trouble all night so it was the more convenient strategy. The problem was their defense absolutely cratered without Clint Capela in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter due to lack of rim protection. At that point, Oklahoma City took the lead and never looked back. It also didn't help that James Harden was off as he was tonight (1 of 17 from three-point range) and Houston missed a lot of quality looks from beyond the arc as a unit (9 of 45 from three-point range).

Russell Westbrook was fantastic, but the Rockets are at their best when James Harden is humming and tonight marked the continuation of the struggles he's had for six games now. Harden is shooting 34.8% from the field and 23.9% from three-point range in this span. It's also not a coincidence that the Rockets are 1-5 in these games.

Star of the game: As with a lot of Houston's losses these past two weeks, Russell Westbrook was clearly the best player on the player on the floor tonight and it wasn't particularly close. Westbrook logged 32 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, and 2 steals on 16 of 24 shooting from the field. Although they lost, when things started to get rocky for the Rockets in the fourth quarter, Westbrook was the steady hand for this team. It'll be interesting to see how long his streak of efficient scoring keeps up, but the Rockets would be getting blown out of the building if not for Westbrook.

Honorable mention: James Harden wasn't nearly efficient enough (9 of 29 from the field) or careful enough with the basketball (5 turnovers) to earn second place honors tonight. Danuel House, however, was excellent (on the whole) after struggling to find a rhythm these past couple weeks. House logged 13 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field and 3 of 7 shooting from three-point range. He was really rough in the fourth quarter (-25), but on the whole, this is an encouraging sign for House.

Key moment: The Rockets went into the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead and lost the game by 5 - that tells you all you need to know about this game. Houston played three really good quarters of basketball and lost focus in the fourth. James Harden missed step-back three after step-back three (0 for 3 from three-point range) and Houston couldn't buy a stop if it was given to them for free (41 points allowed).

Up next: The Rockets play the Denver Nuggets at 7:00 p.m. in Houston on Wednesday.

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