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Recap: Game 6 - Rockets vs. Pacers (L 107 - 114)

The Rockets were on the road to face the Pacers, but Eric Gordon was coming home. Gordon grew up in Indiana, was Mr. Basketball as a high school senior, and played at the University of Indiana. Gordon finished with 20 points in the homecoming. The Rockets were missing Christian Wood this game, who was out with a sore left knee, and boy did we need him. With Wood out, Boogie Cousins was the only active big man on the roster. While Cousins was on the bench, Domantas Sabonis went to work against smaller Rockets. Sabonis, much like his father, has a nice post game. Unlike the game against Denver a week ago, this game was closer than the final score would suggest. I credit the loss to Harden having an off game. He finished with only 15 points but added 12 assists. With only 15 points, 6 other players finished with more points than Harden, and it's the fewest points he's had since February of last year. For the Pacers, Malcom Brogdon finished with a game-high 35 points, which included some brutal baskets down the stretch. Sabonis added 22, and Victor Oladipo added 18. The Pacer's Aaron and Justin Holiday are brothers and play on the same team, I think that's really cool. Justin, coming off the bench, out-played his brother this game. Justin scored 20 points and finished +22, Aaron 7 and finished -6.

1st quarter - Rockets -5

The Rockets started the game distributing the ball, at the half-way mark of the quarter every starter had a shot attempt but James Harden, who instead had 3 assists. With Wood out, Cousins got the start, and was tasked with guarding Sabonis, which Cousins won early on. Cousins started the game hitting a three then scoring again after a nice post-move. The Pacers tried running their offense through Sabonis but, initially, it didn't work. With 4:30 left in the quarter the Rockets were up 22-12. Jae'Sean Tate subbed in for Cousins, and the Pacers subsequently went on a 23-8 run, finishing the quarter up 5. The swing wasn't entirely due to Cousins not being on the court, but Sabonis started going after smaller defenders, and their inside game opened up their outside game. Brogdon had a huge quarter scoring 12 points. The 7 first quarter turnovers for the Rockets also had something to do with it.

2nd quarter - Rockets -1

At the half, Wall was leading the team with 12 points and Nwaba a close second with 11. It's now clear just how much the team is missing Wood this game, offensively and defensively. At points in the quarter, Sabonis looked like Nikola Jokic, and I don't think he would've looked so good had Wood been on the court. Outside of Sabonis, the Pacers hit a few heartbreaking shots this quarter. After a 7-0 run by the Rockets to bring it within 3, Oladipo scored to end the run. The Rockets didn't catch up for the rest of the quarter.

3rd quarter - Rockets +3

The 3rd quarter saw the Rockets get oh-so-close a few times, but never could get a lead. About half way through the quarter the Rockets tied the game 74-74, but a couple of buckets by Sabonis quickly put the Rockets down 4. And that happened a few times throughout the quarter. Wall had another strong quarter, he ended up being the "Frost Player of the Game" for the Rockets, and Harden had another quiet quarter. Thankfully, the Rockets started taking care of the ball, since the 7 turnovers in the 1st quarter, there were only 3 in the past 2 quarters. The Rockets' offense is predominantly iso-ball (Harden has led the league in iso-scoring the past 5 seasons), the Pacers' is anything but. The Pacers move the ball well which results in good looks. In this game, the Pacer getting most of those looks was Brogdon who, through the first 3 quarters, he had 27 points.

Tate has become my favorite player on this team. He plays hard and unafraid. He's big and plays both ways. The Rockets were a bismal 27% from three this game, but Tate hit a big three over Sabonis that put the Rockets into a position to tie the game the next possession.

Cousins had a few really bad off-the-dribble drives this quarter. Every now and then he'll put the ball on the court and make a nice move, but for the most part, it usually ends up with the ball in the hands of the other team. I'm an advocate for Cousins to continue experimenting with how his game fits into his new teams' offense. But in crunch time, I'd like to see him stick with what made him a perennial all-star, being dominant down low.

4th quarter - Rockets -1

The Rockets came out of the gate firing in the 4th. Gordon scored on the first possession, Nwaba blocked Oladipo, and Wall stole the ball and went the other way to score. That gave the Rockets the lead, for the first time since the middle of the 1st quarter. The Rockets quickly lost the lead but the game went back and forth, and was tied, 105-105, with 3:32 left in the 4th. Oladipo was fouled the next possession, making 1 of 2 to put the Pacers up 1. Harden responded by cutting through multiple defenders to score, putting the Rockets up 1. Brogdon responded by hitting a three that bounced twice on the rim before going in, putting the Pacers up 2. The Rockets wouldn't get the lead back again. The next, and final, 3 possessions were: turnover, block by Myles Turner (his 8th of the game), turnover.

Notes

  • The Rockets finished with a season-high 12 blocks
  • The Pacers have finished each of their last 31 seasons with a positive home record
  • John Wall was the "Frost Player of the Game"
  • Turner's 8 blocks ties his career high

Starting lineups

Position Rockets Pacers
PG John Wall Malcolm Brogdon
SG David Nwaba Aaron Holiday
SF James Harden Victor Oladipo
PF PJ Tucker Domantas Sabonis
C Boogie Cousins Myles Turner