The Rockets played a great third quarter Tuesday night, outscoring the Bulls 30-14, to bring an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter. They followed that with a horrific five minute ten second stretch in which the Bulls went on an 18-0 run on their way to their first road victory of the season, sending the Rockets to 3-7 through 10 games. In total, Houston was outscored 32-21 in the fourth quarter, they were outscored 30-15 in the second. The bench was awful.
The Rockets were once again shorthanded. Of course Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks didn’t play, but they were also without Chase Budinger. Ish Smith turned it over twice in less than five minutes in the second, Courtney Lee had four in 12 minutes. Chuck Hayes wasn’t terrible, but there is a reason why the Rockets were badly out-rebounded in this game. The Rockets bench played just 38 minutes out of a possible 240, just barely under 16% of the game, but it did its damage in those limited minutes. The Rockets bench had a +/- of -51. The starters were +36.
When we started the season, most people figured the Rockets bench would be a strength, it is not right now. Obviously, when you are missing three rotation guys your bench isn’t going be great, but it might be time to give a few other guys a look. Tonight, Jermaine Taylor and Jared Jeffries didn’t play. Maybe its time to give them a shot, at least Taylor in place of Lee, who doesn’t appear to fit into this team.
I said after the first game of the year in Los Angeles that I wasn’t a big fan of Courtney Lee, and he hasn’t done anything to make me rethink that. A great athlete, and good defender, but at the offensive end its been the opposite, and the team has suffered because of it.
The Rockets will play the second game of a back-to-back in Oklahoma City, and with the minutes the starters had to play tonight, the bench will be more of a factor against the Thunder. I don’t think Durant and Co. will mind that one bit.