The gist: The Pistons have lost seven of their last eight, the latest one coming in a 99-91 loss at the hands of the Warriors. Led by Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin, the Rockets have won their last three games to climb to a decent 6-7 record.

Key matchup: Kyle Lowry vs Brandon Knight

Heaps and dollops of raves have been directed towards Lowry’s way, and deservingly so. He continues to burn unsuspecting defenses with plays that demand a high basketball IQ. Knight will have his hands full, but one thing he has going for him is a wide 6-6 wingspan that could frustrate Lowry. However, Knight also has a knack for turning the ball over (3.1 TO/game).

X-factor: Luis Scola

Pitted against the Swedish swingman Jonas Jerebko, it will be a classic case of offense against defense. Scola will have a harder time than usual getting his points as Jerebko is expected to use his athleticism and 6’10” frame. On the flipside, Scola and his marshmallow-soft defense has to recognize that Jerebko has a mediocre outside shot and should bang bodies once Jerebko takes it to the low post area.

Code Red: Greg Monroe has been the lone bright spot for the Pistons and the team’s only true threat on a nightly basis. Guys like Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey have seen significant dropoffs in terms of scoring and Ben Wallace has been reduced to a screen-setter, nowhere near the defensive stalwart he once was.

in game coverage

A reader, Sir Thursday, has conducted an analysis of sorts of the Rockets’ schedule:

I’m going to split the other teams into the league into 5 categories depending on how likely we are to beat them:

Easy wins (we should win 100% of these):

Sacramento x3 (1-0)
Toronto x2
Washington x2
Charlotte x2 (1-0)
Detroit x1
New Jersey x1

Expected score: 11-0
Current score: 2-0

Favoured (I’d like to win 75% of these):

Phoenix x4
Minnesota x4
Golden State x3
New Orleans x3
Milwaukee x1
Cleveland x1

Expected score: 12-4
Current Score: 0-0

Even (50%):

Memphis x4 (0-1)
Utah x3
New York
Atlanta (1-0)

Expected score: 6-5
Current score: 1-1

Underdogs (25%):

Denver x4
San Antonio x4 (1-1)
Portland x3 (1-0)

Expected score: 3-9
Current score: 2-1

Games we’d be lucky to get anything out of:

OKC x4 (0-2)
Dallas x3
LA Lakers x3 (0-1)
LA Clippers x3 (0-1)
Orlando (0-1)

Expected score: 0-16
Current score: 0-5

Projected record: 32-34
Current record: 4-7

If previous years are anything to go by, we’ll need around 35 wins to make the 8th seed. That means we’ll need to pick up an extra three games from somewhere. Any ideas where those might come from? We’re already doing reasonably well in the ‘underdogs’ section…

I’ll try to keep this updated as the season goes on so we can keep track of how we’re doing against expectations. Hopefully that will start with a win today!

Follow the breakdown.


in from the editor
John Wall
Houston Rockets 114 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Washington Wizards
Luis Scola, PF 31 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +12

Another game by the Houston Rockets, another rock hard performance by their starting power forward.

Chandler Parsons, F 29 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 8 PTS | +11

Chandler Parsons assisted on three of Houston’s first four baskets. He also did the near impossible by swatting a John Wall-in-transition shot into the stands. Solid game from the rookie, who continues to play unafraid, difference-making basketball.

Samuel Dalembert, C 31 MIN | 9-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +7

Monster game from Sammy. He was awesome on the defensive end, very active and fear inducing. On the other end, he nearly finished the game perfect from the field. The Rockets are a MUCH different team when he plays like this.

Kevin Martin, SG 42 MIN | 7-16 FG | 10-10 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 25 PTS | +15

A throwback Kevin Martin performance. He was a quiet assassin, tip-toeing to the free-throw line 10 times and making all his attempts. Martin also finished with 8 assists—I watched the game and can’t remember a single one. It’s the type of invisible impact he has on basketball games.

Kyle Lowry, PG 32 MIN | 4-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 16 PTS | +20

Lowry started slower than slow, but still managed to put up a solid, albeit subpar to the bar he’s set for himself, performance. His decision making on the fast break is one positive I’ll take away from this game, though. He always makes the easy pass with such lay-up abiding precision. His teammates must wake up loving the fact he’s on board.

Goran Dragic, PG 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | -19

Thank goodness for Dragic. While Lowry was playing inconsistent basketball, the Rockets’ backup point guard stepped in and was brilliant. He attacked the lane and created for his teammates better than we’ve seen in most of his appearances this season.

Four Things We Saw

  1. I’d like to start things off with John Wall, a player so fast he’s exhausting to watch while laying on a couch. The sophomore had a career high 38 point performance to go along with eight assists, six rebounds, and two turnovers. With the Rockets up 19 in the third quarter, Wall cut the lead down to five single-handedly. It was the first time this season I’ve seen him take over a basketball game.
  2. Maybe it was the quality opponent (yea, that’s probably it), but the Rockets defense looked outstanding today, swarming the ball and smothering every Wizards opportunity…apart from those unstoppable John Wall one man fast breaks.
  3. If you didn’t see Chandler Parsons’ put back dunk on JaVale McGee, please go watch it.
  4. After attempting just four free-throws in the first quarter, the Rockets ended the game going 25-26 from the line.

in game coverage

Pocket Rocket – January 10-16, 2012

Pocket Rocket

The number of the week is 13. That was how many minutes Chase Budinger saw in the overtime loss to the Spurs. He was invisible, going scoreless and only grabbing four rebounds.

The Rockets continue to stay reliable at the line, going 61/75 (81.3%) in the past four games. Highlighted by Kevin Martin’s 12/13 display against Portland, the Rockets will always be a threat for as long as they do not settle for contested jumpers.

For one week, at least, the Rockets could exhale and breathe a sigh of relief. Their last four opponents failed to capitalize on open three point looks, going for a combined 19/75 (25.3%).

Stat of the week: Kyle Lowry – 33 points, 8 rebounds (2 on the offensive end), 9 assists

in columns

The gist: The Rockets visit the hapless Wizards at the Verizon Center. At 1-11, the Wizards are losers of all six road games and most recently dropped a home-and-home to the Sixers.

Key matchup: Chase Budinger vs Chris Singleton

After a string of up and down games, Budinger made noise in their overtime win against Portland, scoring 16 points in the first two quarters to finish with 18. His matchup against Singleton is a distinct advantage if he realizes it from tipoff and makes use of that edge for 48 minutes.

X-factor: Samuel Dalembert

The Haitian Sensation needs to push JaVale McGee out of the basket area and if is unable to do so, would be wise to fouling him, as the latter is 45% from the stripe. Dalembert will have to produce more than the usual boards and provide guys like Lowry and Dragic the screens necessary for them to penetrate to the rim.

Code Red: Andray Blatche (sore right shoulder) and Ronny Turiaf (broken left hand) will be no-shows in this afternoon’s matchup.


in game coverage