Houston Rockets vs Denver Nuggets Preview

By Michael Ma

January 30, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) drives to the basket against Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (left) during the second half at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 118-110. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Some keys to the game as the Houston Rockets face off against the Denver Nuggets(4-4) Saturday night at Toyota Center:

 Track Meet

The Nuggets have struggled in the early going, adjusting to new head coach Brian Shaw, as well as being hampered by injuries to Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. The Rockets still need to prepare for the fast-paced attack that the Nuggets are so accustomed to play in. Denver ranks in the top 10 in points scored per game and PACE, 2 categories where the Rockets are in the top 10 as well.

 Containing Ty Lawson

The Rockets have had their struggles defending point guards so far. Ty Lawson has been one of the most productive point guards in the NBA so far, averaging 20.4 points, 7.6 assists, and 4.8 rebounds, while the Nuggets also have a jolt of energy off the bench in Nate Robinson. Both players will be tough matchups for Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin, but the Nuggets will be playing in the 2nd game of a back-to-back.

Hack-A-Howard No More?

Dwight Howard recorded his lowest point total as a Rocket Thursday night with just 7 points, and was pulled out of the game late in the 4th quarter when the Knicks went to the Hack-A-Howard after missing 2 free throws. Howard’s misses at the free throw line late already helped cost the Rockets a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, so coach Kevin McHale may have found a solution to counter the Hack-A-Howard by pulling him out of games late until the 2 minute mark.

Containing The Boards

The Rockets lead the league in rebounding as a team, at 47.6 per game, with the Nuggets right behind them at no. 2 with 47.4 per game. That number for the Rockets has much to do with the production from Omer Asik, who did not play Thursday night, and played just 4 minutes Wednesday night against the Sixers. With all the trade talk swirling around him now, he may not see the floor. Greg Smith suffered a sprained knee against the Knicks and is out, and Terrence Jones played some minutes at the 5-spot in his absence.

Tip: 7 PM CST

TV: CSN Houston