Houston Rockets report card: Player grades from Wednesday’s loss to Detroit

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In a matchup of the top two picks from the first round of the 2021 NBA draft, Houston’s Jalen Green scored a team-high 23 points and clearly held his own versus Detroit’s Cade Cunningham (20 points). Most of the Rockets, however, did not meet the rookie’s high standard.

Led by Jerami Grant’s 35 points, the Pistons (2-9) walked into Toyota Center as underdogs and handed the host Rockets (1-10) a ninth straight loss. In Wednesday’s 112-104 defeat (box score), Houston made just 22-of-34 free throws (64.7%), and those 12 misses were pivotal in a game that was within a point after Eric Gordon’s 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining.

“We need to learn how to close the deal, and we didn’t do that tonight,” head coach Stephen Silas said in a frustrated postgame interview. Only New Orleans (1-11) currently has a worse record than Silas’ Rockets.

See below for highlights and player analysis. Grades are limited to players who played at least 15 minutes, thus excluding David Nwaba, KJ Martin, and Josh Christopher. Houston continues its three-game homestand with Friday’s game versus Portland, which marks the debut of their new City uniforms. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. Central from Toyota Center.

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All-A Honor Roll

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  • Jalen Green (A-): 23 points, 8-of-20 shooting (40.0%), 5 rebounds; plus/minus of +0 in 38 minutes

  • Jae’Sean Tate (A): 14 points, 4-of-9 shooting (44.4%), 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 fouls; plus/minus of +9 in 29 minutes

  • Christian Wood (A-): 20 points, 7-of-14 shooting, 3-of-6 on 3-pointers (50.0%), 9 rebounds; plus/minus of +0 in 37 minutes

In an eight-point loss, Houston went -8 in the 10 and 11 minutes that Green and Wood did not play, and -17 in 19 minutes without Tate. That’s significant, and even when factoring in a bit of mid-game foul trouble, it’s fair to wonder if Tate should have received more minutes. For the game as a whole, Wood had strong numbers after Sunday’s poor showing, but he struggled in the second half with the game on the line.

Good but Not Great (Bs)

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Eric Gordon (B): 11 points, 4-of-9 shooting (44.4%), 2-of-5 on 3-pointers (40.0%), plus/minus of -10 in 30 minutes

Danuel House Jr. (B-): 8 points, 3-of-9 shooting (33.3%), 2-of-4 on 3-pointers (50.0%), 2 assists, plus/minus of -13 in 19 minutes

Gordon scored 9 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers, but his struggles in the first three quarters played a role in Houston building a 14-point deficit that was too much to overcome.

House didn’t have a strong night by plus/minus metrics, but he made half of his 3-pointers and appeared healthy after missing six games with a right foot sprain. Thus, it’s largely a step in the right direction.

Needs Improvement (Cs or worse)

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  • Kevin Porter Jr. (C-): 18 points, 4-of-11 shooting (36.4%), 2-of-5 on 3-pointers (40.0%), 8-of-14 on free throws (57.1%), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 turnovers; plus/minus of -8 in 36 minutes

  • Daniel Theis (C): 6 points, 3-of-4 shooting (75.0%), 4 rebounds; plus/minus of -14 in 27 minutes

Porter scored 18 points, but the third-year guard was inefficient as a shooter; committed a team-high 5 turnovers; and missed 6 free throws, which comprised half of Houston’s 12 misfires as a team. He needs to be better if he’s going to play 36 minutes as the starting point guard.

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