Houston Rockets @ Milwaukee Bucks on 01/05/13

The Rockets look to take their recent strong play on the road as they travel to Milwaukee for the only time this season. The Rockets arrive on the back of a two game win streak that they will be keen to keep going for as long as possible as they take the first trip of their road-heavy January schedule. As recently as a week ago the Bucks were feeling very good about themselves after a comprehensive thrashing of the Heat, but they’ve since been brought down to earth by losses against the Pistons and the Spurs.

This is the first time that the two teams have met since the Bucks made a blockbuster trade at the deadline last year, when they sent former number one pick Andrew Bogut to Golden State in exchange for Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh. In the past Houston has really struggled with the length and defensive presence of Bogut (if you cast your minds back, you may recall that his last game for Milwaukee actually came against Houston, when he went down with a fractured ankle), but without him Milwaukee plays very differently. Of course, the same could be said for Houston given the roster turnover in the intervening time.

 

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In the aftermath of the Yao Ming era, the Rockets have defined themselves by always working hard and gritting out performances.  For the next three years, this team has continually surprised expectations, whether led by Brooks or Martin or Lowry or Scola, and battled gamely for the playoffs before collecting the prize of the 14th pick.  It was definitely frustrating for those who advocated for this team to rebuild and tank for a theoretical superstar, but I personally always appreciated this team’s refusal to not roll over and give up like the Bobcats and Wizards have done.

However, talent more often than not is what determines victory or defeat.  And on a night where Houston notably struggled against an inferior team that played their hardest, it was nice for a change to just simply out-talent the Hornets for the win.

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in game coverage

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Chandler Parsons, Power Forward?

In a recent column for ESPN’s Truehoop blog, Kevin Arnovitz highlighted the effectiveness of lineups in which Chandler Parsons plays power forward. Indeed, according to 82games, in the three most commonly used lineups with Parsons at the 4, the Rockets are a combined +54 points against opposing lineups. This compares with the two most frequently used lineups featuring traditional power forwards (Morris and Patterson), in which the Rockets are a combined +8 points (in nearly six times as many total minutes). Much of the effectiveness of these lineups comes at the offensive end, where the Rockets are simply blowing away opponents. The Rockets are scoring 122, 133, and 138 points per 100 possessions in the three aforementioned lineups while defending at a level similar to that of lineups with a more traditional power forward.

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Marcus Morris’s Improvement

The Rockets selected Marcus Morris with the 14th pick of the 2011 NBA draft, one spot behind his twin brother Markieff, who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. Due to the Rockets’s roster configuration at the time (Luis Scola was entrenched as the starting power forward, with Patrick Patterson coming off the bench), Marcus barely played his rookie year. He spent most of last year in the D-League, appearing in only 17 NBA games and logging a grand total of 126 minutes. Markieff, on the other hand, played in nearly all the Suns’s games, averaged 20 minutes per game, and posted a respectable PER of 12. At the time, it seemed we had clearly gotten the lesser of the two brothers.

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