McHale on Pacers: 'We had no answers for them'
The Rockets ran into a buzzsaw Friday night in Indiana. The Pacers were coming off back-to-back losses, including a very emotional loss to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and Indiana took our heir frustrations on the Rockets, clobbering them 114-81.
The 81 points were the fewest the Rockets have scored all season. They 114 points were the most the Pacers have scored all season.
The Rockets did not play well in the first half and were already down 12 points, 41-29, just 16 minutes into the game. A 10-0 run allowed Houston to draw within two, but the Pacers closed the half on a 15-6 run that included a pair of Paul George free throws with less than a second remaining after he was fouled by James Harden.
If the end of the second quarter wasn’t bad enough the start to the third quarter certainly was and any hope the Rockets had of making a comeback went out the window quickly.
Indiana made 10-of-12 shots to start the third quarter and while they were doing that, Houston made just 4-of-11 shots and committed three turnovers. The last of those three turnovers turned into a highlight reel reverse slam from George, that gave the Pacers an 81-55 lead.
“The start of the third quarter they got a lot of separation on us,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “They had us on our heels in the first quarter and it kind of stayed that way. We didn’t really play well all night, so when you don’t play well, that’s going to happen.”
The 33-point margin of defeat was also the Rockets worst of the season, easily out-distancing an early season loss at the Clippers by 21 points.
“We had no answers for them. They just played way better than we did,” McHale said.” They played more aggressively. They moved the ball well, we didn’t. They attacked us. They got down, spread us out, got threes. We didn’t.
“They were just a lot better than we were tonight, all the way around the block.”
Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 23 points and 12 rebounds and had five blocks, one shy of his season high.
Conversely, Harden struggled all night as he was defended very well by George. Harden was just 3-of-14 for 12 points and only had three assists. He also had five turnovers. He’s scored fewer than 14 points, just once all season, but that came in a lopsided victory against Brooklyn and that was his first game returning from his sore left foot that kept him out of action for three games.