Houston Rockets @ Brooklyn Nets 4/1/14

Teams: Houston Rockets (49-23) @ Brooklyn Nets (38-33)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Barclays Center
Television: TNT

Notes: 

  • The Rockets won the first matchup with Brooklyn 114-95.  Chandler Parsons led all scorers with 21 points on 7-7 shooting (6-6 from deep), although he did miss one of his two free throws.
  • The Rockets as a team went 19-32 (59.4%) from deep, a season high.
  • According to ESPN Stats and Info, no team in NBA history entered January at 10 or more games under .500 and went on to post a winning percentage of .600 after December.  The Nets were 14-22 before New Year and have been 29-12 (.707 win%) since.

Injuries:

Terrence Jones is sick and will be a game-time decision.

Patrick Beverley is out with his right knee injury, but the good news is that it’s only temporary.

Dwight Howard will miss tonight’s game as well with his injured ankle.  His choice to have the cyst drained as opposed to surgically removed could come under fire if it continues to bother him, or if he ends up having the surgery well after the fact and is forced to miss more time.

Kevin Garnett (back) and Andrei Kirilenko (ankle) will miss the tonight’s game for the Nets.  Marcus Thornton has a sore back and is listed as questionable.

Insider’s View – Q&A with Brian Faith of Brooklyn’s Finest.   

Follow Brian @TheBriGuy83.

MF – Typically, it’s the young teams that struggle on the road.  But the Nets, who have won 13 straight at home, are just 14-22 away from Barclays this season.  Why is a team full of stars and veterans so much better at home than on the road?

BF – While it’s true young teams tend to struggle on the road, so too do unfocused and injured teams. The Nets have been riddled with injuries and missing key players throughout the season. That inconsistency rears its ugly head more frequently on the road – when role players are thrust into unfamiliar roles in unfamiliar territories. Also, the Nets suffered from a SEVERE lack of cohesion to begin the season. They were awful on the road AND at home the first two months of the season. The reasons: new coach and system, major contributors learning to play with one another, completely revamped bench units, and a change in coaching staff and style almost immediately.

Shortly after the All-Star break, the Rockets were getting a lot of credit for their post-New Year record.  But now, it’s the Nets who warrant mention.  After going 10-21 in the first two months of the season, Brooklyn has turned it around and has gone 29-12 in 2014 despite missing Kevin Garnett & Andrei Kirilenko (not to mention Brook Lopez) for long stretches.  What has been the biggest difference with the team since January 1st?

The most glaring difference since the New Year has been the players’ commitment to and comfort level with the new system. The injuries you mentioned have in some ways helped the team overall. Roles are more clearly defined. Early season systems and rules (for example, defending pick and rolls) have been settled upon. Above all else, the Nets found their identity. The Lopez and Garnett injuries have forced a certain pace and rotation onto the coaching staff that they probably would not have experimented with otherwise. As it turns out, that was the missing identity this team so sorely lacked to start the season.

The Rockets are in a funny position in the standings where most fans would prefer to see them stay in the 4-seed so as to avoid a potential second-round matchup with the Thunder (who they are 0-3 against this season).  Obviously, the Nets would prefer home-court advantage in a first round matchup with the Bulls, but how much of a priority is it for them to catch division-foe Toronto for the 3-seed?  And who would you prefer to see Brooklyn play in the second-round, Miami or Indiana? 

After the tumultuous start to the season I think most Nets fans are just happy they turned things around and have become legitimate playoff contenders in the East. That said, I believe the team wants to ride this wave as long and as far as they can. A team with championship aspirations would never settle for second best in their own division. Yes, the arrivals of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce brought talks of titles not division championship banners, but there’s no doubt it will help them if the team can look back and say, “Look at how we started, and look how far we’ve come… there’s no reason we can’t win the whole thing right now, this season.”

As far as preferred match up, I actually think the Nets match up best with the Miami Heat. For one, they have the star power and the egos to match LeBron James,  Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. They have players that have beaten James in the playoffs. Secondly, the aggressive nature of the Miami defense doesn’t do nearly as much damage to Brooklyn as it does other teams. The Nets length has been one of its greatest assets all season, and it is particularly pronounced against the Heat. The Nets also have a few different options defensively they can use to slow down Miami. Again, the length comes into play, but also so does the athleticism and body types of the Nets players. They won’t get pushed around or bullied by anyone on the Heat – even James.

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Total comments: 3
  • Cooper says 4 months ago

    He had 7 assists so its not like other players weren't involved and what do you really expect when he's playing with asik, casspi, garcia, hamilton canaan etc... not exactly an offensive juggernaut. According to plus minus Garcia was by far the best player last night and thats simply not the case.

  • uojoe82 says 4 months ago

    As unpopular as this might sound James Harden kept the Rockets from having a legitimate shot at winning this game. Harden was great from an individual performance perspective. But when he was in the game the Rockets offense stalled and is was mainly Harden playing iso.

    The Nets are a savvy veteran team and I think they knew that as long as Harden has the ball and plays like he did, then the Rockets were never really threatening.

    When Harden was out of the game the Rockets moved the ball and the player with the best shot took the shot. When Harden was in the game the ball stops and there's a lot of standing around the perimeter waiting for Harden to pass the ball. Harden was a -17 last night in the +/- category which was the worst of any player.

    I'm not sure if Harden doesn't trust anyone else (outside of Parsons) or if he legitimately thinks he is such an elite scorer that he can win games on his own.

    This article was written in January but I think its basically reinforces everything we saw last night.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/houston-rockets-actually-better-without-james-harden-180700100--nba.html

  • Red94 says 4 months ago New post: Brooklyn Nets 105, Houston Rockets 96: Too many injuries.
    By: Paul McGuire

    The Houston Rockets have won games without James Harden.  They’ve won games without Dwight Howard.  They’ve won games without Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin, and Patrick Beverley, and Omer Asik.  For most of the season, their injury situation has not been as bad as say, the Minnesota Timberwolves last year, or the Trail Blazers seemingly in general.  But Houston has had to deal with their fair share of injuries  this year in contrast to last year, and yet throughout the season they have persevered and found alternatives.

    Tonight was different.  With Howard and Beverley injured, Jones out with “flu-like symptoms”, and Motiejunas only playing 7 minutes due to foul trouble?  There’s a limit to how many injuries a team can take before they collapse – and tonight, even though they tried, the Rockets hit that limit.

    The biggest problems Houston had probably could have been solved by the presence of those missing tonight.  With Jones and Howard officially out, and Motiejunas virtually out, Houston had to deal with the fact that they only had one big man in Asik ready tonight.  Asik played 36 minutes tonight, far more than he is accustomed to, and yet it still wasn’t enough.  At one point in the first quarter, Houston was forced to start Omri Casspi at the 5 slot – and you could just see Andray Blatche’s eyes light up at the opportunity and the lack of rim protection.  Asik had a real defensive impact, having a highlight reel block on Alan Anderson, and cleaning up the numerous perimeter mistakes which the other Rockets made over and over again.  With the total lack of competition for boards, he also grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds, and for once Houston actually outrebounded the opposing team.

    That doesn’t mean that Asik was perfect.  He may have went 5-8 from the field for 12 points, but simple statistics like that just don’t show the gargantuan difference between him and Howard on offense.  You can’t just lob the ball to him like you can to Howard (something which the Houston guards and Lin in particular seem to forget), and after the Nets let the Rockets hit 6 of their first 14 3 point shots, they were content to play the perimeter, keep Houston from hitting 3’s, and dare them to drive – and aside from James Harden drawing plenty of foul shots even by his standards, it largely worked.  Houston only shot 38% altogether tonight.

    And none of that discusses how the presence of injuries impacted the bench.  Now to be fair, Houston did have its best stretch of the game playing part of the bench in the 2nd quarter.  A Lin-Garcia-Hamilton-Parsons-Asik lineup moved the ball and shot well against the Nets bench, and midway through second period grabbed a brief 46-42 lead.  But as a whole, Houston’s bench players were lousy.  While Brooklyn’s bench outscored Houston’s only 29-26, the Brooklyn needed 26 shots to get those 29 points…while Canaan, Hamilton, Casspi, and Garcia took 35.  Needless to say, that huge efficiency difference was just as important as just the general lack of bigs.

    So, really, what is there to take away from this?  To some degree, not much.  Just having Jones around, or having Motiejunas solving that fouling issue which has plagued him his entire NBA career, could possibly have made the difference in this game.  But over the medium-term, as the Rockets struggle to put themselves back together, and the Blazers seem to regain some of their earlier form?  The Rockets will have to figure how to solve a big man/depth problem which has shown up in some form from the minute Greg Smith had that mysterious knee injury.

    Well, the Rockets will be off to Toronto, with everyone completely unsure of who will even be playing for that game.  Fun fact: the last time the Rockets won in Toronto, Rafer Alston played a decisive role and scored 23 points.  Yes.  Rafer Alston. Back in March 2007.s  And let’s not forget Tracy McGrady’s most infamous game as a Rocket, or Trevor Ariza swinging an elbow at Demar Derozan.

    Pleasant thoughts.