Just when things looked as bleak as could be for the Houston Rockets, they turned things around, at least for a game.
Coming off a three game losing streak, they came out and gave a solid performance last night against the Miami Heat and safely won 115-102. James Harden played well with 26 points and a career-high tying 14 assists, and Josh Smith had a season high 19 points on 8/13 shooting. Dwight Howard was out serving a ridiculous suspension for a technical foul that shouldn’t have been called, but the rest of the squad stepped up and showed out in his absence.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
Last night’s impressive victory has Rockets fans and analysts alike scratching their heads, wondering whether Houston has it in them to be a relevant team when the playoffs roll around. Several staff members at CBS Sports discussed their opinions on which of the many possible routes that the Rockets will take for the remainder of the season: Rockets can go a lot of ways from here, starting at the trade deadline. Just as expected, the opinions are all pretty different. It goes to show how unpredictable this squad has been this year.
"If getting things right means becoming a legitimate title contender, then no. Part of that is not even the Rockets’ fault — the and both got so much better this season that it’s hard to imagine anybody in the Western Conference seriously challenging them. I can optimistically envision a scenario where Houston becomes an A- team, but the bar for an A+ has been raised. Golden State Warriors San Antonio Spurs"
This next article doesn’t have as much weight now than it did when it was first posted after Smith’s solid performance last night. The article, by Hoops Habit writer Duncan Smith, argues that the newest Rocket isn’t the answer to the Rockets’ questions: Josh Smith Isn’t Part Of The Solution. Taking an analytical look at Houston’s play with and without him, he makes a solid argument as to why Smith will not bring balance to the force in H-town.
As noted by Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm and CBSSports.com, the Rockets have struggled mightily on the defensive end with Smith on the floor, even more than they have on the season as a whole. Smith has a defensive rating of 112.9 points per 100 possessions while on the floor, and the Rockets as a team have an identical defensive rating over the six games he’s been with the team.
To put that in stark contrast, the worst defensive rating in the NBA currently belongs to the woeful Los Angeles Lakers, who surrender 108.2 points per 100 possessions, and the Rockets have a defensive rating of 104.3 on the season.
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If Houston’s season takes a turn for the worse, the mastermind Daryl Morey may look to make some earth-shattering moves. Though it is extremely unlikely, Space City Scoop’s Anthony Nguyen took an analytical look at what the Rockets could get for their superstars, Superman and the Beard. It’s basketball blasphemy to suggest moving a player of Harden’s caliber, but it’s definitely interesting to look at the possibilities, no matter how unrealistic. I won’t spoil the trades discussed, but check it out here: Trade Deadline: 2 trades Houston Rockets will likely never make.
"Here’s where things get interesting. Let’s say the chemistry issues were true and the players on Houston’s roster got fed up with Harden’s lack of leadership and effort. The organization decides that winning a ring with Harden is impossible because he is a locker room distraction, not fit to be a leader and is a hard guy to get along with."
There are two games remaining until the All-Star break, and if Houston can win both of them, it will put them in a position to make a splash in the playoffs. Here’s hoping they can ride the wave coming off of last night’s victory.
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