The reoccurrence of Dwight Howard’s knee injury will keep him out of action for at least one month, likely much longer. For Rockets fans, still haunted by the limping spectres of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Howard’s injury seems like a latest iteration of a basketball jinx.
Once they shake off their collective gut punch, however, Rockets fans will see that losing Howard isn’t as consequential as it might seem. Former backup center and current starting power forward, Donatas Motiejunas, has quietly established himself as a capable (and maybe even superior) replacement. In this article, I examine how Motiejunas compares to Howard in their shot defense, shooting, and passing.
(read full article at Vantage Sports)
The Houston Rockets have plenty of problems, but a lackluster bench isn’t one of them any more. After months, even years of struggling to put competitive talent on the floor for all 48 minutes a night, the Rockets have found a group that’s not just taking the load off the starters, but taking on good teams and coming out ahead. The bench clamped down on defense and hustled out to an 18 point lead while James Harden rested, which is a confluence of events so good that it had to be offset by four weeks of injury rest for Dwight Howard.
With Howard out, the Rockets are doubling down on defense and tonight they ramped up the effort in a game that was, on balance, tough and brutal. The Rockets shot 41% from the field and 30% from three point range and still led by double digits for much of the game. Joakim Noah had a career-high 19 rebounds, but made only a single point in a truly bizarre outing. Taj Gibson was the only Bull off the bench who had anything like a good night, and he played 30 of the 64 bench minutes for the team. The Rockets, on the other hand, used almost half again as many minutes for their bench unit, clocking in at a clean 90. Nobody played more than 36 minutes, the win was comfortable, and Dwight Howard is one game closer to health.
McGuire: The ghost of Tracy McGrady is looming over, if not outright haunting, Dwight Howard. Let us not forget that while it was 2008-09 when T-Mac’s knees and body fell completely apart, I remember that there were concerns about his knee the previous season – a season where he led the Rockets to that great 22 game winning streak and six games against the Utah Jazz. Knees in the NBA rarely get completely better.
We know that Dwight Howard is going to miss a month as he deals with his right knee again, and we know how badly Houston needs even a limited Howard. Saturday against Detroit was evidence enough, as Drummond and Monroe just overpowered Houston’s remaining bigs.
So how worried are you about Dwight Howard for both this season and long-term? There is no way that Houston will ever trade Howard, so let’s not even talk about that. But how are the Rockets going to adjust over these next few weeks against other teams with strong big men?