Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns Preview

By Michael Ma

March 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) controls the ball against Phoenix Suns point guard Kendall Marshall (12) in the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Keys for the Houston Rockets against the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night:

Overcome Injuries

Without Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons Monday night, the Rockets just didn’t make enough plays against the Utah Jazz down the stretch. Parsons is still listed as day-to-day with back spasms, and in case he can’t go, Francisco Garcia will most likely start in his place once again.

Coach Kevin McHale certainly didn’t take the injuries as an excuse for why the Rockets couldn’t pull out a win in Utah when asked about it:

‘It had nothing to do with who wasn’t there, it had to do with who was there.”

Defense, Defense, Defense

Allowing 109 points to a Jazz team that ranks 27th in the NBA in points per game was disappointing for a Rockets defense that came into the game as a top 10 defense. The Rockets have now dropped to 11th in total defense, and the Suns are no joke offensively: 9th in the league in offensive rating(104.6 points per 100 possessions) and 6th in effective field goal percentage(51.9 percent).

The Jazz guards also had career days. Gordon Hayward scored 29 points, Trey Burke scored a career high 21 points, and Alec Burks added 21 points off the bench. It won’t get easier as the dynamic Suns backcourt of Goran Dragic(17.9 points, 7.1 assists) and Eric Bledsoe(18.8 points, 5.8 assists) will look to attack all night.

Slow The Pace Down?

The Rockets will always look to push the ball, but perhaps slowing down the pace against the Suns could benefit them, as they lead the NBA in fast break points per game. The Rockets, on the other hand, rank 14th in the NBA in fast break points allowed per game, most of which come from turnovers.

One way to slow the game down would be to give the ball more to Dwight Howard in the low post. Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye, and rookie Alex Len will take their turns defending Howard, which should give him a chance to have a big game.

Tip: 7 PM CST

TV: CSN Houston