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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Revisiting Gasol, Nene

A reader, StephenJCyrier, writes:

Say it-”-the CP3 deal would have been an unmitigated disaster for the Rockets.”

On the contrary, with the season having transpired as it has, of one thing I am more sure than ever: had the Gasol trade gone down, the Rockets would now be competing for one of the, if not the top seed in the Western Conference.

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More on Kaman, Scola

Mark Berman of Fox 26 confirmed that while the Rockets have had discussions with the Hornets regarding Kaman, the Sports Illustrated report on the players involved is not accurate.

SI had reported that the Rockets’ offer involved Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill and could also involve Patrick Patterson, Jonny Flynn, and Terrence Williams.

It’s unclear whether Berman means the report was wholly inaccurate, in terms of the players mentioned, or that the specifics were merely a bit off.  Is it still structured around ‘the busts’ or is it fundamentally different, involving, say Luis Scola?

[read more...]

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Goran Dragic And The One Man Fastbreak

A common cliche among announcers today is to give a seriously quick point guard the divine “one man fast break” label. Yes, there are situations where one man does in fact steamroll a defense by going coast to coast—from defensive rebound to dunk—but it’s rare. By mixing crafty flair with not so subtle determination, Goran Dragic has elevated his transition game to the point where adjectives like “elite” shouldn’t be laughed at. [read more...]

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Houston Rockets 91 Final

Recap | Box Score

99 San Antonio Spurs
Luis Scola, PF 25 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -1 The glaring statistic? Five turnovers. Scola forced it too hard and too often, fumbling the ball whenever he took it inside. He also failed to crack double digits. Worst of all, he allowed Duncan to bring the Spurs back in the third quarter.
Chandler Parsons, F 16 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | +9 Parsons was bipolar tonight. He missed on a couple of transition threes early in the shot clock during the first quarter, then reverted to a hesitant nature the rest of the game. No putback dunks to boot either.
Samuel Dalembert, C 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -5 Here’s how intimidating Dalembert is: Gary Neal already had a layup gift-wrapped and he still elected to kick it out to Duncan. However, foul trouble limited his effectiveness.
Kevin Martin, SG 36 MIN | 10-21 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 29 PTS | -5 Martin ushered in his 29th birthday with 21 points in the first half. Most of his shots came from downtown and all Kawhi Leonard could do was watch. Martin gets high marks for his all-around effort across the board.
Kyle Lowry, PG 35 MIN | 5-12 FG | 4-6 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 15 PTS | -7 Parker ran rings around Lowry like it was the latter’s rookie season all over again. Lowry had a respectable second half but the damage had already been done.
Courtney Lee, SG 32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS | -17 With Martin getting his breather, Lee went berserk in the second quarter, freeing himself up for open looks and knocking them down with confidence. Lee has been the steady force for the Rockets when their other bench players have been up and down.
Goran Dragic, PG 16 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 5 PTS | -5 Rough night for Dragic. He threw up an airball, got poked in the face, but managed to initiate the transition for a couple of plays.
Chase Budinger, SF 9 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +1 Nine minutes of insignificance.
Jordan Hill, C 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -3 Hill crashed the glass and gave the Rockets a lot of second looks at the basket.
Patrick Patterson, PF 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -7 Kevin McHale trusted Patterson down the stretch and the gamble almost paid off. He knocked down several jumpers but left Bonner for the three that sealed the outcome.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Martin and Lee were unguardable, converting on successive looks that broke the game wide open early. Unfortunately, Martin had a crucial miss and Lee committed a costly charging call against him in the last two minutes that did the Rockets in.
  2. For a huge chunk of the first half, the only Spur who could buy a basket was Tony Parker. The Rockets sealed the lane tightly, only allowing the Spurs 39 points after 24 minutes. However, they gave up 60 after halftime.
  3. The Rockets sleepwalked through the third quarter. There is no other way to explain how Duncan has 25 points by the end of the third quarter.

Twitter: @favianpua

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