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.
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.
The Houston Rockets host the New Orleans Hornets for Houston’s first game of 2013. Coming out of a flurry of changing expectations, the Rockets now look ahead not to a face-off against a fellow rebuilding team, but come into the evening as a projected playoff team. Instead of simply growth and development, the Rockets are under pressure to produce a win, and a big one at that. But in the wild Western Conference, nothing is a given.
Earlier in December, the Rockets produced their most dominant stretch of basketball for quite some time. The offense was clicking, allowing them to put up over 120 points in three consecutive games. Playing against the Western Conference’s big guns brought them back to earth for a while, but tonight they were able to rediscover their form and managed to cross the 120 point threshold yet again to run out confident winners against the Hawks.
After being held close in the first quarter, Houston broke the game open in the second. They were down 31-30 when Delfino connected on a three, sparking a 16-0 run and creating a lead the Rockets were able to ride the lead for the rest of the game. It also began the most noticeable trend on the night – whenever the team needed it, someone would hit a three pointer to extend or restore their points cushion. The result was a 16-29 night from behind the arc – a season high in three pointers made. Carlos Delfino and Marcus Morris did most of the damage, going 6-8 and 3-4 respectively.