Ugly from the start: Three takeaways from Thursday’s 113-95 loss to the Cavaliers

Jan 26, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) celebrates guard Josh Christopher (9) play against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Ugly from the start: Three takeaways from Thursday’s 113-95 loss to the Cavaliers

The Rockets are now 1-7 in the second of back-to-back games after Thursday’s 113-95 loss to the Cavaliers. The Cavs closed the first quarter on a 16-6 run to go up by a dozen, and their lead never dropped below eight. They outscored the Rockets 37-23 in the second quarter, and the game wasn’t competitive from that point on. Without the services of Donovan Mitchell due to a groin injury, Darius Garland led all scorers with 26 points while tossing in eight assists. Tari Eason’s 18 points led the Rockets.

Point guards matter

The Rockets played without their three favorite point guard options, Kevin Porter Jr., Eric Gordon, and Jae’Sean Tate, and to the surprise of no one, the offense struggled. The Rockets shot the ball fine, finishing the game at 51%, but they had trouble getting shots with no point guard on the floor.

“We didn’t have much ball handling on the floor,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said. “They were blitzing Jalen (Green), we knew he was going to get blitzed. They were double teaming (Alperen Sengun), we knew Alpe was going to get double teamed, and they’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, so the fact that they forced 22 turnovers wasn’t super surprising going in knowing that we didn’t have three of our main guys who handle the basketball.”

Against the league’s best defense, Houston committed 22 turnovers, leading to 40 points for Cleveland, and a night after shooting 5-of-27 from behind the 3-point line against the Wizards, they connected on just 5-of-21 from deep.

Alperen Sengun did get an opportunity to play a little point guard, and he finished with seven assists; he was also responsible for four turnovers.

Evan Mobley wins this round

Thursday’s game featured the second and third overall picks from the 2021 draft, and on this night, the third pick, Evan Mobley, got the better of the player picked ahead of him, Jalen Green. Mobley finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks while shooting 9-of-10 from the free-throw line. A night after shooting 6-of-19 from the field, Green connected on just 2-of-9 field goals for six points, his lowest output of the season.

Green was favoring his right leg when he checked out late in the third quarter and didn’t return.

“He got kneed in the calf, and I didn’t think he was moving especially well after that happened,” Silas said. “I think it happened in the first quarter.”

Josh Christopher gets a start

With Porter, Gordon, and Tate unavailable, the Rockets needed someone to start in the backcourt next to Jalen Green, and that someone was Josh Christopher. After an impressive rookie season, Christopher’s role declined through the first 48 games of this season, appearing in only 30 games and averaging less than eight minutes per game, down from 18 a season ago. Silas praised his work ethic and said he’d get his opportunity soon enough.

“I decided to go with Josh because he had been in the rotation and I wanted to give him a good chance to get out there and get some minutes,” Silas said.

On a night where there weren’t many positives, Christopher turned in a solid performance, finishing with seven points in 19 minutes, and he committed just two of the Rockets’ 20 turnovers.

“I got out in transition early,” Christopher said. “Got to get a good feel of the game and playing big minutes, so happy for myself and happy for the team just to keep on growing.”

Next up

The Rockets will hit the road for one game when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Stephen Silas will miss the game to attend the memorial service for his father, Paul, who passed away last month. John Lucas will coach in his place.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *