All That Power – The Rockets maintained the 8th spot in Marc Stein’s Power Rankings this week. The committee of one writes:
James Harden remains hobbled and Omer Asik is still a Rocket, so all is not well. But it’s not exactly dire, either, when Houston sports the league’s seventh-best nightly point differential (+4.3) and when Dwight Howard is putting up 21 and 14 in December compared to 17 and 12 previously.
John Schuhmann at NBA.com also has Houston stagnating in 8th place:
Patrick Beverley – out 4-6 weeks with a broken hand suffered Saturday in Detroit – is Houston’s latest injury victim. Dwight Howard is the only Rocket to have played in every game, so it was nice that he was able to dominate the Pistons’ frontline to the tune of 35 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks. It would be nicer if Houston had a healthy James Harden for this week’s run through the Southwest Division.
Hollinger’s stats-based rankings aren’t so kind, putting Houston in 11th place as of Tuesday morning. [read more…]
Losses are never a good thing, but I’ll honestly say, if you gave me the choice between a) a win and a down performance from Dwight and b) a loss and another huge performance like last night, in a game where we were already missing our starting backcourt, I’d take ‘b’ every time. I say this because I’m still in that cautious phase where I’m expecting those monster games from last week to be proven a fluke and every additional night like last night pushes that chance further away from reality. The prospect of Howard rounding into form (and becoming a dangerous post scorer) is so significant to this franchise’s future that I don’t want to jump the gun on a proclamation.
Last night bore out the same results as before. Dwight did his damage in single coverage but when the Mavs brought doubles after he made his move, he struggled. A few times, Dwight pump faked the pass, throwing off the help defense, but this was before he began his dribble. His problem still remains the double after he’s begun his move. And I don’t know how that can be fixed aside from getting him set closer to the hoop – any big man trying to dribble through that many arms in today’s modern NBA is going to have trouble.
Michael Pina posed an interesting question last night, over email: is Dwight a top 5 player again? At first, I was uncomfortable committing. But when pressed, who’s really better? Lebron and Durant, naturally. Chris Paul, possibly, though it’s not as if his team has fared better than Howard’s, despite better health. Harden – no. Paul George has been terrific, but also has been the beneficiary of a tremendous team scheme. Pina says that over the next three years, the only players he’d rather have than Howard are Lebron, Durant, and Anthony Davis. I’m leaning towards agreement.
The Houston Rockets are a good basketball team. They have a real shot at winning it all in the next handful of years, and might make some noise in the playoffs if they can find some chemistry. The Dallas Mavericks are on the wrong side of their superstar’s career, with Dirk Nowitzki hoping to get one last shot before he retires. The Rockets are more talented, younger, faster, and better constructed. But they never had a chance when the Mavs came to Houston.
For the second time in two meetings, the Dallas Mavericks came from behind to swat aside the Houston Rockets and punish them for their poor team defense. When Dirk is locked in, he’s as unstoppable as a shooter can be. Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle is as crafty as they come, putting his players in the best position to use their skills. All the talent and analytics in the world don’t matter when the other coach has your number. And make no mistake, the Mavs have Houston’s number.