The Houston Rockets launch 3-pointers at such a rate that only someone with an affinity for video games would appreciate.
If you’re open, shoot the ball. Simple enough?
The Rockets have made it look simple, and it’s made them one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors certainly entertain, and the Cleveland Cavaliers also love to shoot the 3-pointer.
But the Rockets are pushing the limits. How many 3s are too many? We have no idea where that will take us as coach Mike D’Antoni has given the Rockets the license to shoot.
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“When there’s ultimate freedom, that gives you the ultimate confidence,” said Rockets forward Trevor Ariza. “When you know if you shoot the ball, no matter how many times you shoot it, it’s a good shot, then you start believing it’s a good shot and then you start making them.”
The Rockets set the record for 3-pointers attempted in a game for the second time this season, hoisting 61 and making a regular-season record 24 in a win over New Orleans on Friday.
No team had attempted 50 3-pointers in a game before this season. The Rockets have done it twice.
“It’s a fun style of offense, and we’re winning and ultimately, that’s the most important thing,” said forward Ryan Anderson.
Houston entered Saturday’s game against Minnesota on a nine-game winning streak and leading the NBA with 38.5 3-point attempts per game. The Rockets also lead the NBA in 3-pointers made at 14.8 per game, and are shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range, fourth in the NBA.
Nearly every Rocket has the green light to shoot the open 3-pointer, and as Anderson joked, even their centers might shoot the 3-pointer, too.
“It is a free style of play,” Anderson said. “We really enjoy playing around each other. Obviously we’re led around James (Harden), so we read off James, he makes great plays, great reads for us.”
Amid all the focus on Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the race for MVP, it would be silly to ignore what Harden is doing. He leads the NBA with 11.8 assists per game serving as the point guard, which has proven to be a genius move by D’Antoni. And Harden is still a lethal scorer at 27.7 points per game.
He is also averaging 8.0 rebounds.
So even as Westbrook flirts with the possibility of averaging a triple-double for a season, Harden should not be dismissed as a candidate for the league’s top individual honor.
“Most of the things we’re doing I didn’t anticipate,” Harden said. “Everything is new to me, and every game we do something different. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”
With Harden controlling the offense, and shooters all over the floor, the Rockets pose a defensive problem. In the pick and roll, he has four easy options – if he doesn’t shoot it himself.
“We obviously have the best player in the league at coming off a pick-and-roll, in James, and making decisions,” Anderson said. “So teams really have to (decide who to cover) on a nightly basis, and it’s not easy.”
The ‘This Can’t Be Life’ Award
Fans are riled up about players resting at this stage of the season. Teams will do what they feel is best to preserve their stars, even if it means giving them a night off now to ensure they’re fresh later in the season.
The team that’s perhaps drawn the most head-scratching over a rest decision is the Kings, who sat DeMarcus Cousins on a night when two starters were already out with injuries and the Kings were 9-15 at the time.
So leave it to Allen Iverson, who was ridiculed for years for not wanting to practice, even though his “practice” rant has been taken out of context over the years, to remind fans of how things used to be at halftime of Friday’s game where he was being honored for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I would never, ever, ever sit out a game if something wasn’t broke ... I knew you’d want to see me,” Iverson told fans.
Players will get their rest, it’s how today’s NBA works. Just buy those tickets at your own risk.
The Keeping it Way Too Real Award
Iverson was asked Friday as part of his media rounds in Philadelphia why he didn’t lift weights as a player.
The answer was classic Iverson.
“That (expletive) was too heavy,” Iverson told reporters.
Classic answer from The Answer.