The Houston Rockets have now won three straight games and are looking to make it four tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies. With most players contributing as of late (Trevor Ariza with 24 points last night and Patrick Beverly shooting 67% from three this month) and key players coming back from injury/suspension soon (Donatas Motiejunas and Ty Lawson), things are all set for the team to round the corner and make up for lost time.
The All-Star break is coming up next month and there’s not much more time that can be wasted being an average-at-best team.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
Most of the power rankings this season have had the Rockets deservedly placed in a melancholy middle-of-the-pack spot (or worse). This week, Marc Stein at ESPN slotted them at number 13 – two spots higher than last week. The primary reason he cited for the for the upward movement is Dwight Howard‘s elevated play.
"…Dwight Howard might finally be regaining a slice of prominence in the Rockets’ orbit. In his past five outings, Howard has averaged 22.0 PPG, 14.2 RPG and, perhaps more notably, 38.8 MPG."
Speaking of Howard, he is the last of Houston’s concerns this season. Because of his storied past in the league, he catches a lot of blame for his team’s struggles. There has been talk of how the Rockets would be be better off trading Dwight and how he isn’t even close to the player he once was. However, his play so far this year says otherwise. Max Croes at The Dream Shake assessed the different ways that Dwight has been talked down by the media and argues why he shouldn’t be talked down at all.
"36.5 minutes per game over the last five games. There’s the on-court proof Dwight Howard put the necessary effort into his recovery. Amid a team being derided for a lack of effort and a lack of preparation Howard appears to see a team that needs help immediately, not one that needs him in the playoffs… one that needs him now."
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Speaking of Houston’s concerns, transition defense is a big one. Zach Harper sat down and watched every single defensive transition sequence of which the Rockets have been a part this season so far. He made very sure to mention several times how much of a negative experience it was, noting his thoughts and assessments throughout the process. Included in the article are videos of nearly every one of the 552 plays along with satirical comments on the team’s struggles. It’s a bit hard to swallow at times (James Harden is the butt of a lot of jokes), but still worth the read.
"I can tell you this: If I haven’t figured it out by now, I never will. I watched 552 Houston defensive transition possessions, which equates to two hours and 33 minutes of viewing time. I sort of kept a diary as I watched. It was awful. But this is the down and dirty of Houston’s truly horrific transition defense. Read on at your own risk …"
If the Rockets can continue their recent improved play into the second half of the season, it can still be salvaged. Before they look at playing well for months at a time, however, they just need to focus on playing well tonight. It’s a long season that isn’t even halfway over and they’ve got an important corner to round.
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our Space City Scoop Round Table Sessions to help you get through the season. Start your morning with SCS Daily Rocket Science which offers an update of news on the Rockets around the National and Social Media sites and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.