Linsanity? How bout Marcusanity? (Also, Nets beat Rockets)

The Nets win their first game against Houston. I could talk about how
the game was obviously a disappointment, about how we let them stay in
the game for way too long. But in this loss I feel like I want to talk
about something positive.

Marcus Thornton has had a crazy start to the season. For those of you
who don’t know who the guy is and how he came to be in the starting
line-up, let us recap:

-He’s a 6 year vet. Had some solid seasons in Sacramento, but has been
very injury prone the past few years.

-We signed him to the veterans minimum. Sort of an afterthought, and
considered to be the 4th or 5th SG/SF in that rotation that could get
minutes if someone got injured (Harden, Ariza, Brewer and maybe
McDaniels ahead of him).

-Doesn’t play at all the first two games. Terrance Jones went out with
an injury so they start Thornton in an attempt to give the offense more
spacing.

-In the next 6 games, he proceeds to average 17 points a game shooting
over 45% from the field.

People told me that he was a streaky shooter, so when he had 19 points
in the 1st half against Miami, (only to go cold in the 2nd half) my
expectation was that he would have a couple of good games and then the
law of averages would catch up to him. The next game against OKC he had
an ordinary 12 point game. But then against Orlando he put up 18, and
then a pair of 16 point games against the Kings and Clippers. And now 21
against the Nets tonight.

Guys? This isn’t funny anymore. A guy we got with the veterans minimum
is averaging 17 a game. And it’s starting to feel less and less like a
fluke with each passing game.

When was the last time a Rockets player has unexpectedly had a good
start to the season? The guys that come to mind are guys like Parsons
and Brooks. Those guys were young and therefore it was more concievable
that they would make a jump in production. Scola improved over an
offseason and went from 12 ppg to around 16 during the 09-10 season. But
that can be attributed to an increase in role with McGrady and Yao
effectively no longer with the team. Ariza during that same season (in
his first go around Houston) started the season averaging nearly 20 a
game, but he was also shooting under 40% from the field. And most
recently, Jeremy Lin two seasons ago coming off the bench started the
season hot. I don’t remember the exact numbers off the top of my head
but I remember looking at a stat sheet for the team and seeing Howard,
Harden, Lin and Parsons all averaging over 16 a game 10 games into the
season. Although, Lin was making 8 million a season at the time, not
exactly the veteran’s minimum money Thornton is making.

Now, I know you are probably saying “He’s not going to average 17 points
a game for the season.” Probably not. The fact that he probably won’t be
a starter once everyone is completely healthy is a big reason why that
won’t happen. But something like 12 a game off the bench seems
reasonable.

Anyways, I guess I should say a few things about the loss to the Nets:
-Pat Beverly and Terrance Jones both made their returns. They both came
off the bench. They didn’t have amazing games, but we saw the same
things they typically did. Beverly was a pest on defense. Jones didn’t
really score, but reminded you that he was a PF with good handles.
-The Nets got 20 offensive rebounds. Obviousy bad. I wouldn’t look too
much into this. With us going small more often, it meant that a guard
would be forced to box out a taller player more often. Once we get our
PFs back to full strength, this won’t happen as often.
-Howard had a 20 and 17 game. I alrady mention Thornton’s good game.
Everyone else had slightly subpar games (I’m not going to bother with
specifics), but it wasn’t like we just got completely demolished on the
offensive side of the ball.
-There wasn’t anything wrong strategically with the Rockets gameplan
with 5 minutes left in a close game. In the past we have lost close
games when Harden tried to play hero and failed. That didn’t really
happen. The ball moved around. The shots just didn’t fall. And then on
the defensive end, we made a couple of plays, but they just made more.
The fact that we let them stay in the game was the issue.

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