Jan 5, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale talks to Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during the game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. The Chicago Bulls beat the Houston Rockets 114-105. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets Game Day:
A week ago news trickled out of practice that Dwight Howard had re-tweaked the ankle he twisted in Phoenix. Then the update followed it was in fact his right knee (the same knee which caused him to miss 11-games earlier this season) which was swollen. Days later we were told Howard would not make the trip East to play Boston and Detroit and may be out a week. This morning the Rockets confirmed Howard had undergone a non-surgical procedure which will keep him out a minimum of a month.
Thankfully James Harden is expected to suit up as is Terrence Jones who also is dealing with a minor leg injury. The game tonight marks the start of arguably the toughest stretch of schedule for Houston. Eleven of the Rockets next thirteen games are versus teams over-.500 including top four East seeds Chicago, Toronto and Atlanta as well as the rapidly improving Cavaliers. There in no room for error as the Rockets will meet these teams without the services of Howard and with a less than 100% Harden.
- The Rockets fought Chicago in a closely contested game January 5th before succumbing in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. They’ll have revenge on their minds tonight, but without the services of Howard to battle the tall front court duo of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah they’ll have their hands full
- Since playing Houston the Bulls have been mired in a bad stretch of losing going 5-9. The odd fact of this trend is Chicago is beating top teams like Golden State, Dallas and San Antonio but have been losing to lower seeds like the Lakers, Utah and Orlando
- In essence, the Rockets and Bulls have traded places this season with Chicago making huge improvements on offense but slipping defensively. For the past several seasons the Bulls have been either the Association’s best or in the top three, but they rank 12th this year. Conversely the historically poor Rocket defenders have abandoned their offensive juggernaut role to assume a top three defensive rank.
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