Houston Rockets @ Minnesota Timberwolves – February 4, 2012 7:00PM

The gist: With seven players scoring in double figures, the Rockets easily dispatched a Suns squad that displayed no offensive firepower whatsoever. They take on the Timberwolves, who are coming off a 108-105 win despite allowing the Nets’ Anthony Morrow to run amok with 42 points.

Key matchup: Chandler Parsons vs Michael Beasley

Minnesota has been playing with a purpose ever since Beasley returned from his foot injury. Adelman has shuffled his lineup and now has Beasley in a sixth man role, a position Beasley relishes and maximizes. Parsons cannot allow another offensive explosion from the volatile forward similar to what happened in their last tiff.

X-factor: Kyle Lowry

Lowry is coming off a 5-8-9 night against Phoenix that left many scratching their heads. Lowry seems to be all over the court with his hustle but looks gassed when the Rockets set up their offense. Lowry will need help from the big men in terms of initiating the offense from the post for him to be at peak performance longer.

Code Red: Nikola Pekovic is coming off a career night, pouring 27 points and grabbing 11 boards in their win last night. Pekovic has been a revelation, providing significant contributions whenever he spells Darko Milicic. Jordan Hill and Patrick Patterson cannot rest on their laurels against the up-and-coming big. In their last game, Kevin Love also got a lot of open looks from the perimeter. Someone (by someone, we all mean Luis Scola) has to keep the defense honest on him.

Twitter: @favianpua

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On Marcus Morris, the D-League

There’s been a lot of chatter of late about Marcus Morris and his relegation to the D-League.  I’m not sure I understand it.

First, there’s the insinuation that because Morris has not yet contributed to the varsity, he’s a certified bust: this is beyond absurd.  Morris is just 1/3 of the way into his rookie season on a team with playoff aspirations.  NBA rookies rarely see significant time; don’t take the exceptional case of Chandler Parsons as the norm.  Both Aaron Brooks and Patrick Patterson saw time in the NBDL before making major contributions to the Rockets.  It’s just standard procedure.  The Rockets want their freshmen to get reps in the minors, playing in controlled conditions, before they are thrown into the fire.  Parsons was a player so polished that there wasn’t much to learn down there anyway.

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3-on-3: Houston’s February Queries

 

The All-Star starters have just been announced. The Rockets are currently at 12-10 and would like to gain traction in an increasingly tight Southwest Division race. They are currently tied with the Grizzlies for the ninth seed and a game out of the playoffs behind the Lakers.

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Five Notes on a String: February 3rd, 2012

  • One of the most endearing aspects of cheering for one specific basketball team is the relentless optimism of the beginning of a season; almost as pleasant is the ephemeral breeziness of a season lost once mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. No, the true misery lies with those stomach-churning, disemboweled-thanks-to-all-of-the-gut-wrenching followers of teams on the brink; on the brink of the one seed, of the playoffs, of the ability to completely humiliate and degrade a team’s rival, the pain afflicts those who have something to lose. Suddenly, Rockets fans find themselves back in such murky waters, facing the frustrating reality of logistics, as in, “Who in the hell can the Rockets logistically beat out for a playoff spot?” According to John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds, not many teams. Having had the 12th easiest schedule entering Friday’s play, the Rockets’ strength of schedule surely will increase in upcoming months, with a lot of those games coming against our most virulent rivals for these playoff spots: the surprise monsters of the Northwest (Utah and Portland) and every other team in the Southwest. In fact, the new month will bring with a great deal more crushing, horrifying certainty with two games against Utah, two against Memphis and one in Portland; if there were ever a time to see the Rockets show their mettle, this would be it. Yeah, I remember this feeling, a constant tension after every win, too ready for the other shoe to drop, or a dejected, slow gaze downward after every loss, sure that all of the other teams are having more fun without your team in the playoff hunt. Yup, the playoffs, or at least the promise of them, have returned to Houston; I’m going to need some TUMS. Read More »

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Houston Rockets vs Phoenix Suns – February 3, 2012 7:00PM

The gist: The Rockets suffered a second half meltdown in a 99-91 loss to the Spurs. Houston now plays host to the Suns before embarking on a six-game road swing. Steve Nash had a memorable evening in the Suns’ 120-103 victory over the Hornets. He scored a season-high 30 points and surpassed Kevin Johnson as the franchise’s all-time assists leader.

Key matchup: Samuel Dalembert vs Marcin Gortat

Dalembert did not see action in the closing minutes of the Spurs game. He will be raring to bring down the Suns’ double-double machine, but Gortat will not be boxed out easily. The last time the Polish Hammer had less than 10 rebounds was back in January 8 against the Bucks.

X-factor: Chandler Parsons

Parsons has looked completely out of sync in the past four games. It goes beyond his pedestrian stats. It’s the little things: shot selection, staying in front of his man, making scrappy plays. He looks lost on the basketball court. Against Grant Hill and Jared Dudley, Parsons won’t have any excuses.

Code Red: Nash’s 30-10 night makes him the oldest player to achieve such a feat at 37 (and 11 months). Lowry must not allow another point guard to blitz past him after he was abused by Tony Parker.

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