The Rockets Are Getting Destroyed By LaMarcus Aldridge, And They’re Making It Easy For Him Too

  • Eric Goldschein

We’ve had a crush on the Portland Trail Blazers all season, but there was plenty of reason to believe they’d be shown the first-round door by the Houston Rockets, a dark-horse title contender. And that still might happen. But the Rockets find themselves in a 2-0 hole and face the prospect of a sweep in Portland by the end of the week, and it’s (mostly) thanks to LaMarcus Alridge.

Portland’s All-Star forward has been playing out of his mind in the first two playoff games, after telling Blazers legend Clyde Drexler he was coming for his records. Here are his full highlights from last night:

And here are the mind-blowing and historic stats he’s put up:

Yeah. It’s been just two games, but if two games were a career, Aldridge would be one of the best ever.

How is he doing it? The Rockets aren’t a strong defensive team, but Dwight Howard and Omer Asik are two of the best big men and defenders in the game. From what we’re seeing, besides Aldridge just playing fantastically well, it might be a coaching/strategy issue. ESPN’s Daily Dime sums it up well:

The Rockets’ defensive game plan on Aldridge clearly did not work. Houston tried to go big with its so-called “Twin Tower” lineup with centers Howard and Omer Asik on the floor at the same time. Asik usually got the assignment on Aldridge, and the Rockets tried to push him away from the basket.

Here’s the problem: That’s where Aldridge thrives. To push Aldridge into the midrange area is like handing a dog a rib eye. It was a curious adjustment from McHale and his staff…

In the practices leading up to Game 2, Howard mentioned that Aldridge had taken more long 2s than the entire Rockets team that season. That’s his sweet spot, and the Rockets paid dearly for that adjustment.

Aldridge is one of the best mid-range shooters in the game. Why would you put him in his comfort zone? He killed you in the post the first game — so you change your entire strategy after one loss? Let him bang in the post with Howard and Asik for 40 minutes and see if he’s still killing you with jumpers in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets are talented, but they’re getting outclassed — both on the court and on the bench. It may already be too late to right the ship, and Kevin McHale could pay for it come the offseason.