After a two week honeymoon following that exciting overtime game against the Spurs, the Rockets now have to face a vicious schedule that starts with the Grizzlies and takes them on the road for 15 of their next 23 games. As the Rockets prepare for a deluge of teams currently in the playoff race (15 of the next 23, again) they start the stretch with one of the most brutal opponents out there: the 17-6 division rival Memphis Grizzlies.

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Examining the Lin/Harden pick-and-roll

It’s safe to say that Jeremy Lin and James Harden are two young basketball players infatuated with the pick-and-roll. Moments before magically transforming it into an Omer Asik-looking-catapult that hurls them towards the basket, they salivate at the site of a ball screen.

For Harden, the pick-and-roll has played a major role in solidifying him as one of the league’s most capable and efficient scorers (according to Synergy Sports, Harden is the second most efficient pick-and-roll ball handler in the league, averaging 1.1 points per possession). In Lin’s case, it waffles between safety raft and stepping stone to consistency (on nearly a third of all his possessions, Lin uses the pick-and-roll, according to Synergy).

Both use it a ton, and both wouldn’t be the same without it. Unfortunately for the Rockets, only one ball exists in play at a time, and while one is taking advantage, the other is rendered useless. Or so we think. [read more…]






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The Emerging Chandler Parsons

via rockets.com:

“I knew that I was capable of doing this, I knew my coaching staff believes in me and I knew I was going to get an opportunity. I just worked really hard on the things Coach McHale told me to work on. He told me that every time I get a rebound to go with it, so I worked on my ball-handling, I worked on making decisions, just so that when the season came, I’d be ready.”

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More on Greg Smith

Yesterday, Ming Wang penned this fabulous piece on Greg Smith, articulating the big man’s progress this year.  On one point, however, I disagree:

While Smith lacks even a rudimentary post-game or a spot up jumper, the ability to score as a roll man can pay huge dividends for a team offensively (see Tyson Chandler on the Knicks).

I had actually planned to write on the very topic of Smith’s offensive repertoire last week after noticing a few things during a particular home game, but never got around to it.  On one night–my memory on these things really escapes me these days–I distinctly recall Smith facing up his man a few feet out from the basket, turning, and then nailing a turnaround.  Later in the same game, he caught it in the post and delivered a baby hook over his left shoulder.

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Against a Philadelphia 76ers team known for its defense, the Houston Rockets had one of their highest scoring affairs of the season, and did so in a spectacularly efficient manner. Only two players, Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino, shot less than 50% from the field, and Houston’s starting backcourt of Harden and Lin had a viciously efficient night of beardsanity. Tonight, maybe it’s efficiensanity.

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