1. Allen makes Rockets pay for going small
With Clint Capela out for the next month to six weeks with ligament damage in his right thumb, the Houston Rockets opted to go small against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, starting 6-foot-8 Gary Clark at center.
Second-year big man Jarrett Allen made the Rockets pay for that decision.
In a career-high 43 minutes, Allen dominated the glass all night, grabbing a career-high 24 rebounds — including six on the offensive window — while also scoring 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting and blocking three shots.
Clark played 24 minutes for Houston and did get eight rebounds and two blocks, but he was scoreless on five attempts — all from 3-point range. Nene played 16 minutes — about the most the Rockets want to play the 36-year-old — and had four boards and seven points.
Marquese Chriss played only six minutes in the middle and had a rebound while missing his only shot attempt, also a 3.
To be sure, Allen left some points on the floor, missing shots in close by either making them too complicated (a whirling turnaround attempt against 6-foot-6 P.J. Tucker comes to mind) or not using the window when it was available.
But as he told YES Network’s Michael Grady immediately after the game, when he saw that Houston had no real size on the floor, he made sure to go to the glass aggressively.
He sure did that, besting his previous career best of 14 rebounds early in the fourth quarter (a period in which he had nine boards in all).
In overtime, Allen came up big as well, blocking James Nunnally’s drive attempt with 50.8 seconds left and the Rockets holding a four-point lead. Houston came up empty on the possession, turning it over on a shot-clock violation.
On the ensuing trip down the floor, Allen faked a double-screen and made a hard cut to the rim. Spencer Dinwiddie found him for a finger roll and a foul, although he missed the free throw. That left the Nets down just two with 40.8 seconds left.
In what was perhaps their biggest win of the season, the biggest Brooklyn Net came up with his biggest game. It all just sort of fits.