The Houston Rockets are rolling. If all goes well tonight dealing with the struggling New Orleans Pelicans, they’ll go into Wednesday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs with a three game winning streak in their back pockets. The team is going into tonight’s game coming off one of the most entertaining games of the season as well as one of the most convincing wins thus far this year against the Dallas Mavericks
Trevor Ariza (29 points, 11/15 shooting), Josh Smith (16 points, 2 blocks, 2 steals), and Corey Brewer (13 points, 4 steals) all had great outings. However, James Harden‘s stat line outshines them all: the Beard finished with his second triple-double in three games with 23 points, 10 dimes, and 15 rebounds (also, notably, 2 blocks).
I don’t know what his motivation has been recently, but Harden has been on fire from every aspect of the game. Personally, I like to believe that it’s because he’s upset about not getting the starting nod for the All-Star game. Maybe he’s proving to the world that he deserves a spot on the team and is trying his best to earn the position. Whatever it is, I hope he keeps it up.
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To continue the talk about the Bearded One, my fellow Space City Scoop writer, Coty Davis, toys with the question: Is James Harden’s reserve spot on All-Star team uncertain? Though it isn’t hard to put together a good argument why the league’s second-highest scorer should be on the All-Star team, Davis does a great job assuring Rockets fans that Harden’s spot should be a no-brainer. His style of play is criticized by many, but it’s a stretch to say he doesn’t deserve a roster position.
"Although we both agree that Harden is as good as any of the starters in the Western Conference, the Rockets’ record should not reflect him receiving his fourth All-Star appearance. What should and will support Harden’s appearance are his individual performances that are All-Star worthy. Although the league should award players on winning teams, there are some that cannot be overlooked."
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Harden’s game yesterday verses the Mavs was one of those un-overlook-able performances. It was just fun to watch. Speaking of fun, Forrest Walker of Red94 (ESPN Affiliate) wrote on how yesterday was one of the few times this season where Houston Rockets basketball has been fun. The players looked like they were having a good time and it was undeniably fun to watch from a fan’s perspective. Nearly everyone who took the court had a productive game and it was a potential launching pad for the rest of the season. Take a look: Houston Rockets 115, Dallas Mavericks 104: Fun came back.
"What’s most notable about this game? Was it James Harden’s triple double? Was it the further adventures of the conquering Josh Smith? Maybe it was an aggressive and successful Ty Lawson. There were a lot of things to like about this game, especially the big comeback keyed by Josh Smith. The Rockets got out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but the collapsed in the second, ending the half down by 8. This spread to double-digits the other way before the Rockets turned it on in midway through the third and never looked back."
One thing that the previous article discusses as a blemish on yesterday’s game was the play of Clint Capela. Most of the Rockets have been playing good basketball recently, but the Swiss Roll has actually been struggling a bit. He goes back and forth between looking like a confident, young NBA player and a freshman who recently got promoted to varsity and is trying not to step on any seniors’ toes during practice. Hope is not lost though; if there’s anything player can do to improve as a big man, it’s practicing with one of the greatest to lace ’em up. According to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, Rockets’ Clint Capela values practice time with Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon has been a great help to the Rockets’ big men over the past couple years, and I’m excited to see how he can help young Capela blossom into a fantastic big man.
"If Capela, 21, had noticed a sport before Olajuwon retired following the 2001-02 season, it was soccer. But he has seen the videos of Olajuwon more than enough to not only appreciate the talents of his most heralded predecessor, but to begin training with Olajuwon at his first opportunity Saturday."
Don’t hold your breath, but Houston basketball is looking fun again! I’m not excited to hear about their childhood friendship over and over from the commentators, but seeing Smith and Dwight Howard play together soon will be a beautiful thing. If they can mesh well again and if Harden can continue this streak of stat sheet-stuffing triple-doubles, we as Rockets fans have a lot to look forward to.
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