All That Power – The Rockets slipped from 8 down to 10 in both Marc Stein’s (ESPN) and John Schumann’s NBA.com power rankings this week, because that’s what happens when you blow a game to a team (Phoenix) that has no reason to do anything other than tank at this point in the season. Marc Stein writes:
Of the six teams realistically battling for the final three playoff spots in the West, Houston entered Sunday’s games with the easiest remaining schedule in terms of opponent winning percentage, with the Lakers not far behind. The toughest remaining schedules belong to Portland and Utah.
When your position in the rankings is paired with a note about the ease of your remaining schedule, that fits the definition of “damning with faint praise.” The good news is that while the Lakers continue to climb, Golden State and Utah have dropped like injured Vince Carters, so the Rockets’ playoff picture hasn’t really changed much.All Those Power Forwards – The Dream Shake has a solid breakdown of the Rockets’ shaky situation at the 4 spot.Matt Stephens examines the skills of Motiejunas and Robinson and writes:
If you combine their skills, they would make an extremely talented young prospect, but apart they are both flawed. Both guys have high ceilings and have shown brief flashes, yet are still liabilities in crunch time as McHale has consistently gone with Parsons and Delfino in the final minutes of games.However, we know even less about Terrence Jones and Royce White, two players the Rockets’ front office knew would be projects when they were drafted. Jones is far more NBA ready than White and has at least looked competent in NBA games and dominant in the D-League. White? When he stopped raging on Twitter long enough to play games for the D-League, he’s been everywhere from eye-popping to a complete eyesore.
Practice? – The Rockets were back home for practice on Monday, and Kevin McHale was in a less-than-agreeable mood:
Reporter: Coach, Jeremy (Lin) mentioned that you’ve pointed out that they’ve lost 5 games recently against sub-500 teams. I know you’ve had plenty of wake-up calls in that regard, but do you think that will not be an issue the last part of the season?McHale: If I had to bring it up to them, they either don’t know the standings, don’t look at anything or don’t care.Reporter: Simple as that?McHale: You think?Reporter: Should be.McHale: If you were doing a (expletive) job, do you think that your boss would have to tell you?
On a positive note, he was highly complementary of Omer Asik’s work to lose weight and get in shape for Houston’s run-and-gun style. Jason Friedman has more here, including Lin and Parsons taking personal responsibility to step it up in future games.Got any links or suggestions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or message John Eby on Twitter @EbyNews.