My buddy Ryan Wallace texted me during the first quarter last night and he hit the nail on the head. "This is just a bad match up," he said. "It happens."
I totally agreed and it's one that had several reasons, but let's take a look at the first one.
@11758rw dribble drive. Keep your man in front if you and force jumpers. Then run. Tough match up for a slow paced team.— Tommy Dee (@TommyDeeTKB) December 18, 2012
@tommydeetkb 16fts and 34 pts in paint. I didn't watch game but I bet raptors played them zone.— Ryan Wallace(@11758rw) December 18, 2012
The Rockets essentially run a college offense centered around attacking the "block" or "slots" with pick and roll mixed in. They are coached by Kelvin Sampson, who produced many pros in college. Their goal is to beat their man to the open block forcing help and if no help comes it's a layup.
Kentucky has made the dribble drive famous, and it's the perfect offense for players like James Harden and Jeremy Lin, both who need the bounce to create optimal scoring opportunities. I'm surprised it's not more utilized in the NBA. Lin's numbers are down because he plays most of the game off the ball, watching and reacting to Harden's attacking and slashing to the block. When the Rockets have Harden attacking the left "slot" and Lin attacking the right "slot" they are very hard to defend.
As we know, the Knicks struggle guarding the dribble, especially Jason Kidd these days, so it makes sense that the Rockets backcourt has been dominant against the Knicks in their two meetings. Add to the fact that Tyson Chandler had to be especially careful in help because of a lack of depth and the fact that Kurt Thomas would struggle at the pace the Rockets play at, and you have the makings of another blow out.
The solution to the dribble drive? Iman Shumpert would most certainly have helped as would some sprinkling of a 2-3, 3-2 or match up zone, something Mike Woodson isn't a fan of.
The NBA is a copycat league, so expect to see more of this as the NBA tries to figure the Knicks out defensively.