Terrible, Vaguely Relevant Game Pun
Houston, We Don't Have Liftoff
The Rocket Outlook
After a very strong opening half against the defending champion Lakers to start the season, things have fallen apart a bit for Houston. They went on to be outscored by L.A. 61-48 in the second half, visited Golden State only to have another 132 dropped on their defense, and rounded it off with a 13 point home loss to a Denver Nuggets team on the tail end of a road back-to-back. Kyle Lowry, one of the team's best perimeter defenders, returned to action against Denver and figures to get time on Chris Paul. Meanwhile, Yao Ming is on a strict 24 minute-a-night limit and apparently won't play in back-to-backs. As much as they struggled in the season's opening week, Houston will be well-rested and hungry for their first win of the year.
It's weird to associate Houston with mediocre defense. But for the second consecutive year, it's looking more and more like that will indeed be the case. The perimeter D has been especially sieve-like. It'll be interesting to see who they stick on CP3; again, I'd anticipate a healthy Lowry getting extended minutes. Don't be surprised if Marco Belinelli takes up the powerful driving cudgel once again, as we saw on opening night.
Through 3 games, the Rockets have allowed 116.1 points per possession. Oddly enough, they've played decent field goal defense and haven't gone overboard with fouling either. Their two shortcomings have been defensive rebounding and a total inability to force turnovers. While New Orleans isn't necessarily a turnover prone team, the second unit has shown a tendency to cough it up. Additionally, the Hornets have been one of the league's worst offensive rebounding teams thus far. In a nutshell, the Hornets' offense may not be in position to take advantage of Houston's two largest flaws thus far.
- Trevor Ariza returns to Houston, mere months after the team unceremoniously dumped him and his contract. Ariza hasn't exactly lit it up on the offensive end, but he has been superb defensively. He should get the assignment on one my absolute favorite players in the league, Kevin Martin.
- Aaron Brooks didn't receive a contract extension offer by Monday's deadline. Given the dearth of overall offers, it's not that surprising. However, Memphis' Mike Conley did receive $45 million over five years, and they're not too dissimilar talent-wise.
- Houston has allowed 9 made 3-pt field goals a night, the league's third worst mark. Perhaps it's a chance for Marco Belinelli (and/or Peja Stojakovic) to finally get going from distance.
- In his last four trips to Houston, David West is averaging 31.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game. The last time he visited, he scored 35 points on 16 of 20 shooting. If memory serves, Chuck Hayes was the primary defender on him in each of those games. Hayes will likely start on the bench tonight.