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Houston Rockets Game Day: Begin 4-Game Road Trip in Denver

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Houston Rockets Game Day:

Record: 22-40,  Western: 12,                                               Record: 42-20,  Western: 4,

Northwest: 4th, last ten 3-7                                                     Southwest: 2nd, last ten 6-4

Houston Rockets vs Denver Nuggets

Sat Mar 7, 9:00 PM EST – ALT, CSNH, RTSW

Pepsi Center – Denver, CO

Recent Matchups

Dec 18 HOU 115-111 DEN       Dec 14 DEN 96-108 HOU     Apr 10 HOU 116-123 DEN

Apr 6 DEN 125-130 HOU           Nov 17 DEN 111-122 HOU

Latest Results:

[table id=28 /]

Stats:

[table id=30 /]

Walking Wounded:

Nuggets:

  • Jusuf Nurkic: missed Tuesday’s game due to a sprained ankle

Rockets:

  • Patrick Beverley is questionable with a sprained right foot. He played on last night but may not go tonight
  • Terrence Jones like Beverley, Jones was questionable Friday, but he played and now is questionable for tonight (NOTE: he also hurt his hip last night which might be part of what influences his ability to play in Denver)
  • Kostas Papanikolaou remains day to day with an ankle sprain
  • Dwight Howard continues his off court training  of swimming, weight lifting and tread mill running. As per Houston Chronicle:  underwent an examination Wednesday with the Rockets’ team physician, who confirmed that the center’s recovery is “on schedule”(projected to miss 6-8 weeks)

Patrick Beverley (sprained right foot) and Terrence Jones (low back pain) are questionable for tonight in Denver.

— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 7, 2015

Bench Mob:

[table id=31 /]We’ve touched on this repeatedly that Houston’s reserves have experienced a steady upward climb in their bench production. With news Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones may have to miss the game it will be interesting to see how the reserves fare playing against a relatively productive Denver reserve squad. Still, expect the consistent energetic approach from  Corey Brewer and Josh Smith assuming Pablo Prigioni and Joey Dorsey would replace Beverley and Jones if they can’t go.

Feb 27, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) attempts to dunk against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) during the first half at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Key Match-up:

It’s funny watching a team change immediately after a coaching change which is what we’ve seen out of the Nuggets since Brian Shaw was sent packing. Specifically the “Manimal” Kenneth Faried has looked a lot better so if Terrence Jones suits up or Josh Smith gets the assignment they’ll need to keep an eye on him.

James Harden will offer Ty Lawson his own personal handful as he looks to squeeze out another big night to follow up his triple-double from Friday.

Both benches provide quality reserves, but much will depend on whether Beverley and Jones suit up and if they do how much they have in the tank given they are questionable to begin with.

On a whole Houston has dominated Denver winning 4 of 5 over the course of their past 5 meetings.

Dec 13, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots during the fourth quarter as Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) defends at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Leaders

Nuggets:

  • Ty Lawson 16.1 points per game
  • Kenneth Faried 8.7 rebounds per game
  • Ty Lawson 9.8 assists per game
  • Jusuf Nurkic 1.3blocks per game
  • Ty Lawson 1.3 steals per game

Rockets:

  • James Harden 27.1 points per game
  • Dwight Howard 11 rebounds per game
  • James Harden 7.1 assists per game
  • Terrence Jones 2 blocks per game
  • James Harden 1.9 steals per game

Mar 6, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) high fives forward Terrence Jones (6) against the Detroit Pistons in the first half at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

 Keys to Winning:

  • If Beverley and Harden thought they were facing a fast point guard in Reggie Jackson last night they’ll need to step up their defense tonight facing perhaps the fastest at his position in Ty Lawson. Limiting his ability to drive the paint and cutting down his passing lanes will be a key emphasis for the Rockets.
  • Find your legs! It’s a well known fact that if you go back in time the advantage has predominantly been on the Denver side for second nights of back to back games played in Denver. While the Nuggets haven’t been the same team they were for the past several seasons there is no denying the burn in the lungs and weary legs which inevitably occur in the thin Denver air (especially in the first quarter).
  • Denver has one of the better rebounding teams in the Association ranking  8th so it will be imperative to crash the boards and utilize ball movement to keep Denver moving on defense
  • Both teams rank in the top 5 for pace so expect lots of ball and player movement. Harden who’ll handle the ball for the most part (especially if Beverley can’t go) will need to read the game situation and his decision on the pace could well be the determining factor in the outcome.

Dec 13, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) shoots the ball during the fourth quarter as Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 108-96. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Pick:

The odds makers favor Houston by 3.5 points which is significant given they enter on the back end of the back to back, are playing their fourth game in five nights and might be without 2 starters. Given how crazy this week has been between “the kick” suspension and the league apology for the missed foul call the Rockets will be looking to salvage 2 wins when they probably felt it could have been a clean sweep. Fortunately Denver also played last night (in a loss to San Antonio) so they won’t be sitting waiting for Houston, but also returning from Texas to prepare for tonight.

Denver haven’t beat a seeded Western team since their win versus Dallas January 14th, (and did that on 4 full days rest) but they’ve looked better since Brian Shaw was fired. Look for Harden to follow up his big triple-double from Friday night by leading his Rockets to another big win to get their 4-game road trip off to a great start. I say the odds makers have it right and I’ll take the Rockets to grab the W by 5 points.

Next: Who has the power in week 18?

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