The greatest thing about sports is that it allows all of us to take a momentary break from life and reality. Whether it’s the players, coaches, or fans, we all can become engaged as one to play the game we love, or cheer for the team we love. As the Houston Rockets return to the court Tuesday night, the process of grief and recovery will hopefully be a start through this tough time.
Starting Tuesday night, the Rockets will host the Toronto Raptors (3-11), fly out as a team to Minnesota after the game to attend the funeral of Sasha McHale Wednesday morning, and then fly to Oklahoma City to play the defending Western Conference Champions, Oklahoma City Thunder (11-4). While the Rockets will be playing with heavy hearts, they must not dismiss the fact that these two games have some significance early in the season.
Although the Rockets face the last-place Raptors first, it does mark the return of Kyle Lowry to Houston. The former Rocket point guard is averaging 18.3 points and 6.1 assists after being traded to Toronto this past offseason. Lowry’s replacement, Jeremy Lin, showed profound respect for him.
“He can do it all,” Lin stated. “There wasn’t one thing he couldn’t do. He could pass, he could drive, he could finish, he could rebound, he could shoot 3′s. So yeah, (he’s) a heck of a player.”
It’ll be a great challenge to see how Lin and the Rockets defend Lowry, as the team has not had a lot of success so far when trying to limit good, point guards.
After flying to Minnesota and attending the funeral of Sasha Wednesday morning, the Rockets will finish their hectic 24-hour span by playing the Thunder. Not only will the Rockets face a huge test playing an elite team on the road, it also will mark the return of James Harden to OKC.
Harden spent 3 seasons with the Thunder, becoming a big part of their recent success. After winning 6th Man of the Year last year, he was traded to Houston just days before the season began due to contract disputes. There should be mixed emotions Wednesday night from the Thunder crowd, but it should be hostile, nevertheless, as it almost always is at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Houston will also be facing former Rocket, Kevin Martin, for the first time since the Harden trade. Essentially Harden’s replacement for the Thunder, Martin is averaging 15.1 points as the 6thman for OKC, his lowest mark since the 2005-2006 season when he was a member of the Sacramento Kings.
The Rockets will also wear a green band on their jerseys Tuesday night to honor Sasha, who passed away Saturday afternoon. Green is Sasha’s favorite color.