Game Day: Houston Rockets Attempt to Extend Win Streak to 3
By Tamberlyn Richardson
Game Day: Houston Rockets versus Detroit Pistons
The Houston Rockets arrive at the Palace in Auburn Hills to face the reeling Detroit Pistons hoping to notch their third consecutive win this evening.
Sure the Houston Rockets have won two games in a row yet neither of their wins versus the 0-18 Philadelphia 76ers or Carmelo Anthony-less New York Knicks appeased many fans in Clutch City. Both instances took late game heroics in order for the Rockets to get the victories and left us wondering when James Harden is planning on stopping his iso-ball tendencies.
Though several Rockets scored in double digits in the Knicks overtime win the fact Harden chose to keep the ball in his hands avoiding the hot shooting of Marcus Thornton has many questioning his in game decision making. Perhaps the fact he was suffering from the flu may offer some excuses for his late game choices, but moving forward at some point he is going to need to trust his teammates more.
If there is a silver lining for Rockets fans it’s that the Rockets continue to face teams struggling just as much as they are. There next match-up comes tonight (November 30) versus the reeling Pistons who jumped out to a 4-0 season start, but have since lost 9 of 13 and were 1- 3 this past week. Additionally this week could bring some positive news as Donatas Motiejunas is scheduled to meet with doctors on Tuesday to determine if he can finally join his squad in practices and eventually in games. DeMo’s return could make a huge difference for the Rockets who could utilize his versatility and the added depth to the front court.
Venue: The Palace in Auburn Hills
Game Time: 7:30 PM EST – 6:30 PM CT
TV: ROOT in Houston and FS Detroit
Radio: 790 AM and 105.1 FM
March 6, HOU 103 – 93 DET
Feb 1 HOU 101-114 DET
- Spencer Dinwiddie – knee, questionable for November 3oth
- Jodie Meeks – back, targeting February return
- Brandon Jennings – Achilles Tendon, targeting Christmas return
- Sam Dekker – back surgery November 20 , will be out 3 months
- Donatas Motiejunas – still recovering from off season back surgery, scheduled for December 1st reassessment
Pistons:Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope,Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond
Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard
The Key Match-up:
The key match-up to watch here will be the front courts. Both teams have size with Andre Drummond leading the league in rebounding and Ersan Ilysova brought in during the off season to provide a stretch four and play a similar role to what Hedo Turkoglu did for Van Gundy in Orlando. Expect Bickerstaff to utilize Capela and Howard again (now that he’s been cleared for back to back games) to offset the Pistons size and to attempt to hold Drummond at bay.
Caldwell-Pope is an under rated up and coming star who has shown capability on both ends of the court and will be tasked with keeping Harden in check while Beverley will look to keep Jackson who started the season on fire in his mini slump.
Pistons: Aron Baynes, Stanley Johnson, Anthony Tolliver, Steve Blake
Rockets: Marcus Thornton, Corey Brewer, Clint Capela, Ty Lawson, Jason Terry, K.J. McDaniels
Keys To Winning:
Match the Pistons’ Defense:
Though the Pistons have lost 4 in a row they continue to rank in the top 10 defenses (8) and after an embarrassing loss to the woeful Brooklyn Nets will be charged up looking to get back on track. Houston has shown improvements especially in taking care of the ball versus New York, but can’t afford to regress and give the Pistons any life.
Take Drummond and Jackson Out of the Mix:
With the size of Capela and Howard there should be no reason for Drummond to dominate over the two Rockets centers. Sure he’ll get his numbers, but the Rockets should look to replicate what OKC did and try to keep him under 10 rebounds.
Take advantage of schedule by continuing win streak and building team chemistry:
The Rockets have benefited from playing the Sixers, Knicks (without Melo) and get Detroit on a 4 game losing streak searching for offense. Now is the time to link together some solid wins and to turn a corner inside the locker room. Harden needs to get past whatever issues the team had with him and start TRUSTING his teammates. As he relaxes into his role and finds confidence in this teammates, so too will the rest of the team.
The Rockets have been very fortunate this season hasn’t begun like most years in the NBA with the West jumping out to quick starts. That said the Clippers and Grizzlies seem to have found their stride (though both have benefited from ease of schedule, especially the Clippers), so there is no reason to believe the Rockets can’t do the same.
I keep harping on tomorrow’s doctors appointment with Motiejunas, but I firmly believe he will make such a huge difference to the options for the squad. Last season the main players who kept Houston afloat while so many were out injured was Harden, Beverley, Ariza and Motiejunas. If DeMo gets the clean bill of health it could very well end up providing Houston with the same shot in the arm Mario Chalmers did for Memphis. Though one player never makes a team, the addition of one player can spark the difference the team makes!
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It says a ton when the Pistons are favored by 4 points even when they are on a four game losing streak and the Rockets are on a 2 game win streak. However, this entire season the odds makers have backed the Rockets and usually been wrong, so let’s cross our fingers they get this one wrong as well. I’ve been pretty tough on Harden this week because I believe he can raise his level and feel this is more a matter of what’s between his ears than his skill set. Another loss could set the team back, so given how hyped I am about that doctors appointment I’m going to stick with the positive and say Rockets by 3
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