Game 15: Hornets @ Rockets

2011-12 NBA Regular Season

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3-11
vs
7-7
January 19th, 2012
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
7:00 PM CST
TV: CST, NBALP
Probable starters:
Jarrett Jack
< Kyle Lowry
Marco Belinelli
<
Kevin Martin
Trevor Ariza = Chandler Parsons
Jason Smith
< Luis Scola
Emeka Okafor < Samuel Dalembert

Your Pregame Moment of Zen

Woj-tweet_medium

On the Rockets

Where to begin?

The 2011-2012 Hornets were all set to become the new Houston Rockets. Goran Dragic. Kevin Martin. Luis Scola. Trevor Ariza. Maybe Chase Budinger or Patrick Patterson if David Stern had allowed a deal to be reworked. But Basketball Reasons put an end to all that, and the rest is history.

The Rockets' original plan, a clever one, was to clear out space, acquire Pau Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers, acquire Nene Hilario on a max deal in free agency and unleash quite a formidable front court duo on the Western Conference. Instead, they settled for paying Samuel Dalembert $7M for the 2011-2012 season and not doing much else. But as much as this would appear to be a business-as-usual season for the Rockets, some strange happenings are underway.

Strange Things Happening in Houston:

(1) Kyle Lowry.

Kyle Lowry is playing amazing basketball. He's crushing from long range (42% vs. 32.5% career). He's destroying the defensive glass (16% vs. 11% career). His assist rate is a career high 38% and his usage rate is also a career high 23% (previous career high was 18.6%). Add it all up and you get a PER almost identical to the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul. Some of these numbers will come down for sure, but for now, Lowry is one of the top three point guards in basketball.

Which, you don't need me to tell you, is a Strange Thing.

(2) Samuel Dalembert

In recent games, Dalembert has gone face to face with some very good front court players. Greg Monroe. LaMarcus Aldridge. DeMarcus Cousins. And he's owned all of them. Monroe, who has a true shooting of 60% with a 24 PER this year, finished 2 for 7. Aldridge, who has a true shooting of 54% with a 22 PER this year, finished 7 for 21. Cousins, who has a true shooting of 51% with a 20 PER this year, finished 1 for 7.

Offensively, Dalembert has an offensive efficiency of 127, the fifth highest mark in the league. His career PER is 15; his 2012 PER is 22.

This is a Strange Thing.

(3) Kevin Martin

Dalembert and Lowry have it good, if temporarily. Kevin Martin, on the other hand, does not.

From 2005-2011, Martin was arguably the NBA's most efficient scorer because of his three point shot but more importantly, because of his ability to get to the foul line. Call it flopping (I actually wouldn't, but I suppose it's reasonable too), or call it skill, but Martin was ending up at the foul line 8 or 9 times a night, no matter what. Everything else could go wrong, but he was getting those free throws regardless.

In 2012, those FTA have strangely disappeared. After averaging 9.4, 9.7, 7.5, and 9.3 FTA/36 minutes the last four seasons, he's down to 4.5 FTA/36 this year. His attempts at the rim have gone down by about a shot a game, but I'm not sure that's enough to explain this drop-off. Small sample size? Maybe.

But this, like the other, is very much a Strange Thing.

Other Notes

- Your opposing team blog for the evening is the excellent The Dream Shake.

- Houston's rookie forward Chandler Parsons has been on a tip-dunking spree. Watch out, Mssrs. Landry and Smith.

- The Rockets rank last in the NBA in defending screen plays (not including pick and rolls). As it turns out the Hornets are second last in off-screen offense.

- But if New Orleans is looking to capitalize somewhere else, the Rockets are very poor defending the ball handler in pick and roll situations. So letting Jarrett Jack play off of a big guy, whether that's Gustavo Ayon or Jason Smith, would be a smart alternative to simple isolations tonight.

- Go Hornets.

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