Houston Rockets @ Orlando Magic – Dec. 26, 2011 6:00PM

The gist: The Rockets open the hectic season on the road with a visit to Disney World. The Magic will be coming off a road game the previous night against the Thunder.

Key matchup: Luis Scola vs Glen Davis/Ryan Anderson

Scola has been a preseason weapon offensively and has gotten rid of the rust sooner than everyone else. A defensive sieve as always, he will be tasked to guard Big Baby, who is expected to have gotten over his forgettable performance during the last postseason. Look forward to a scoring spurt when Scola and Anderson get into their offensive rhythm at the same time.

X-factor: Courtney Lee

Can the former Magic steal the show and spell Kevin Martin for extended stretches?

Code Red: In a condensed season, it is more important than ever to have a strong start, as fatigue will make it difficult to make up for lost time. After all, it takes one win to get to 22 straight. These are two teams with players (Martin and Dwight Howard) who are frustrated to be stuck on both teams and want to get traded sooner than later. Watch Stan Van Gundy’s juggling act as he balances playing time for four shooting guards (J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson, and Larry Hughes).

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On the Samuel Dalembert signing

As is well known by now, the Houston Rockets signed center Samuel Dalembert yesterday, solidifying their frontcourt rotation.

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that I don’t like the acquisition.

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From Yao to Pau and back to now: the 2011-2012 Houston Rockets season preview

I’m not completely sure where to start.  Whereas the front page should be littered with discussions ranging from “how many good years does Pau have left?” to “is our big man duo better than Randolph and Gasol?”, instead, cold silence.  I still don’t think we’ve completely overcome the collective shock that was last week.

Yes, this essay should have entailed a sincere look into the Rockets’ odds at winning the West in the next three years, during the duration of Pau Gasol’s contract.  Instead, we scramble to assess what we have and what our objectives should be during this challenging season.

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Rockets 5-on-5

Rahat and I help break down the Rockets upcoming season on ESPN.com

Rockets 5-on-5

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Chuck Hayes fails physical in Sacramento

ESPN reported this afternoon that former Rockets forward Chuck Hayes failed the team physical in Sacramento and has been released.

Hayes was signed by the Kings to a four year $21 million dollar contract on December 9th.

The complete details of the physical have yet to be released, but the preliminary reports suggest that the Kings’ team doctors found a heart abnormality.

The implications of Hayes’ release for the Rockets are potentially auspicious. Should he pass a Houston physical, the team remains $9 million dollars under the NBA salary cap and could possibly resign its former player.

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