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.