Rockets News

Howard Return Proves Significant in Defeat of Nuggets

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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169. 96. 73. . 108

Dwight Howard returned to the Houston Rockets starting line-up after missing 11-games and made history in the process.

THE STARTERS

A+. <strong>38 min, 7-20 FG, 24 PTS, 2-5 Three Pt, 8-9 FT, 10 REB, 10 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 3 TO             </strong><p>If you were wondering how good this team could be with Dwight Howard in the line-up, tonight provided a pretty good answer. With him back it allows Harden much more room to negotiate as there are now options to play inside out as well as better floor spacing. Harden followed up his season high scoring night versus Denver with his third career triple-double and looked less stressed. Logical given he didn’t have to worry about carry such a heavy load with Howard back.  </p>. SG. Rockets. JAMES <STRONG>HARDEN</STRONG>

B. <strong>34:33 min, 4-9 FG, 9 PTS, 0-0 Three Pt, 1-4 FT,  2 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO</strong><p>Beverley held Lawson in check for the most part and continues to produce the intangibles. While many don’t consider him a top end point guard he brings something else to the table many players only occasionally display and that’s his chutzpah. When Afflalo got scrappy leading with an elbow to Howard’s nose (which caused it to bleed) without a foul call it was Beverley who got in Afflalo’s face. A couple of possessions later he fouled him hard just to let him know you might get away with one call, but I’ll make sure you pay for it before the night is over.  </p>. PG. Rockets. PATRICK <STRONG>BEVERLEY</STRONG>

SF. Rockets. TREVOR <STRONG>ARIZA</STRONG>. B. <strong>41:43 min, 4-14 FG, 13 PTS, 3-11 Three Pt, 2-4 FT,  8 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 0 BLK, 0 TO</strong><p>It was surprising Ariza played so many minutes given his back spasm struggles. In my opinion (though I’m giving him a middling grade tonight) it is his defensive presence which has vaulted this team forward defensively specifically in his 3-point shot defense.   </p>

<strong>32:03 min, 11-19 FG, 25 PTS, 2-4 Three Pt, 1-2 FT,  5  REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 1 TO</strong><p>While the entire Rockets line-up benefits from Howard’s return it’s Motiejunas who reaps the greatest rewards. Over the summer Demo upgraded his inside/out game and now with Howard back he has more freedom offensively. Teams have to contend with keeping Howard from scoring easily in the paint, so Motiejunas is able to utilize his increased offensive arsenal and the freedom he now has with opposing defenses having to cover Howard. His career high 25-points speak to how quickly Demo and the Rockets benefited. Once Kostas Panikolalaou returns from injury the offensive options become even more diverse.  </p>. PF. Rockets. DONATAS <STRONG>MOTIEJUNAS</STRONG>. A

A+. <strong>29:36 min, 9-11 FG, 26 PTS, 0-0 Three Pt, 8-17 FT,  13  REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 2 TO</strong><p>Whats not to like, Harden got a triple-double, Motiejunas scored a career high 25-points, the team played lock down defense for 3 of 4-quarters and Howard played almost 30 minutes with 26-points, 13-rebounds and 3-blocks.  Perhaps what was most noticeable was how easily the Rockets scored their 106-points with Howard back in the line-up.  Sure the big guy still can’t shoot a free throw if his life depended on it but his presence gave the Rockets advantages on both ends of the court.  While the Rockets went 8-3 without Howard they did it through defense and Harden playing like an MVP. With his return my instinct tells me in no time at all Houston’s offense will return to the high octane offense of last year and as long as the Rockets continue playing at the same level defensively and they get some luck in the health department anything is possible. </p>. C. Rockets. DWIGHT <STRONG>HOWARD</STRONG>

THE BENCH

<strong>15:17 min, 0-0 FG, 0 PTS, 0-0 Three Pt, 0-0 FT,  8 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO</strong><div class=. PF. Rockets. JOEY <STRONG>DORSEY</STRONG>. C-

It’s nice to have a guy this size on the bench who can step in to spell Howard or Motiejunas and not lose anything on the boards. He still has lapses in focus defensively but I like his energy. The hard foul on Faried sent a message to the entire Nugget team just because Dwight isn’t in the game don’t think you have a clear path through the paint.

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C-

15:17 min, 0-0 FG, 0 PTS, 0-0 Three Pt, 0-0 FT,  8 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO

It’s nice to have a guy this size on the bench who can step in to spell Howard or Motiejunas and not lose anything on the boards. He still has lapses in focus defensively but I like his energy. The hard foul on Faried sent a message to the entire Nugget team just because Dwight isn’t in the game don’t think you have a clear path through the paint.

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