Sunday, January 23 2022

The losing streak for the Rockets (1-9) is now at eight consecutive games after Sunday’s loss at Golden State (8-1). Houston closed to within three points midway through the third quarter, but the host Warriors subsequently went on a 15-0 run to put the game out of reach before finishing with a convincing 120-107 victory (box score).

Houston finished its long Western Conference road trip at 0-5, with all five losses to a probable playoff team (Lakers, Suns, Nuggets, Warriors). Jordan Poole led Golden State with 25 points and 5 assists, while two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry scored 20 points on 50% shooting. Jae’Sean Tate paced the Rockets with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

See below for highlights from Sunday’s game, and read on for our assessment of individual Houston performances. Grades are limited to players who had clear rotation minutes, since anything less wouldn’t represent a sufficient enough sample to evaluate. Grades are also decided relative to a player’s average performance — in other words, the standard for Christian Wood is higher than for David Nwaba.

With the long road trip complete, Houston finally returns home to face Detroit on Wednesday night at at Toyota Center. Tipoff for the game between the Rockets and Pistons — which features a showdown of Jalen Green and Cade Cunningham, the top two picks in the 2021 NBA draft — is set for 6:30 p.m. Central, with the game broadcast on ESPN.

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All-A Honor Roll

Photo by Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

  • Jae’Sean Tate (A+): 21 points, 7-of-11 shooting (63.6%) and 2-of-4 on 3-pointers (50%), 10 rebounds; plus/minus of -5 in 33 minutes

  • Daniel Theis (A-): 14 points, 5-of-7 shooting (71.4%), 5 rebounds; plus/minus of -13 in 21 minutes

  • David Nwaba (A-): 6 points, 3-of-6 shooting (50%), 9 rebounds; plus/minus of -6 in 20 minutes

With strong defense, playmaking, and reliable shotmaking from the perimeter, Tate has been the clear highlight of a down road trip for the rebuilding Rockets. Theis has impressed in consecutive games this weekend after missing time with a sore right big toe, and his ability to play well on both ends of a back-to-back suggests that he’s healthy.

Mixed Results (Bs)

Photo by Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

  • Alperen Sengun (B+): 12 points, 3-of-4 shooting (75%), 5-of-12 free throws (41.7%), 5 rebounds; plus/minus of -4 in 16 minutes

  • Kevin Porter Jr. (B): 11 points, 3-of-9 shooting (33.3%), 7 assists; plus/minus of -4 in 27 minutes

  • KJ Martin (B): 7 points, 3-of-6 shooting (50%), 4 rebounds; plus/minus of +0 in 18 minutes

  • DJ Augustin (B-): 11 points, 8-of-8 free throws, plus/minus of -13 in 11 minutes

Sengun has shown flashes, but for a capable shooter to miss seven of 12 free-throw attempts was disheartening, even at 19 years old. Porter again struggled with his shot but dished out 7 assists in 27 minutes, which was encouraging. He left early with a left thigh contusion, and head coach Stephen Silas said postgame that he did not yet have an update. Thus, Porter’s status for Wednesday’s home game versus Detroit is unknown.

Needs Improvement (Cs or worse)

Photo by Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

  • Jalen Green (C): 9 points, 4-of-12 shooting (33.3%), 1-of-6 on 3-pointers (16.7%), 4 turnovers; plus/minus of -19 in 30 minutes

  • Armoni Brooks (C+): 7 points, 3-of-10 shooting (30%), 1-of-8 on 3-pointers (12.5%); plus/minus of +12 in 16 minutes

  • Christian Wood (D): 4 points, 2-of-5 shooting (40%), 1 rebound, 4 steals; plus/minus of -18 in 24 minutes

  • Josh Christopher (C+): 2 points, 1-of-4 shooting (25%), 3 rebounds, 2 assists; plus/minus of +4 in 19 minutes

Green remains in a shooting funk, which is understandable for a 19-year-old rookie. Nonetheless, his production as a starter remains inefficient, and Eric Gordon’s absence (right groin tightness) means there isn’t an alternative. Wood seemed to be flustered by Draymond Green’s defense and appeared disengaged for long stretches of the game. Brooks registered an encouraging plus/minus figure, but in his first true rotation opportunity (due to Gordon’s injury), he missed seven of eight 3-pointers.

Christopher played his first rotation minutes as an NBA player, but the 19-year-old did little to distinguish himself in either direction.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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