Preview: Sixers @ Rockets

Fresh off a high profile game that will have them a much needed confidence boost, the Rockets head home to take on a struggling 76ers team. Like Houston’s previous opponents, Philadelphia have been missing their two best players: Jrue Holiday (sprained right foot) and of course Andrew Bynum (bowling ball to knee). The 76ers are currently saddled with a 4 game losing streak, the most recent of which was last night against Dallas. Bearing in mind the injury situation and the schedule, it’s a pretty good time to be hosting this particular matchup. The Rockets need to capitalise on home games while they have them because their home-heavy early schedule is running out – between Christmas Day and the end of January they will play 15 of their 22 games on the road.

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Before anything is discussed, it should be remembered that Carmelo Anthony sat out tonight with an injured left ankle.  To earn a win, even a blowout win which was over by the nine-minute mark, against a team who started Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Ronnie Brewer, Chris Copeland (whom I had never heard of before tonight, but was absolutely fantastic both during the game and garbage time with 29 points ), and Tyson Chandler is hardly a tremendous accomplishment.

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Should the Rockets trade Jeremy Lin?

Less than six months ago, before he played a single minute, Jeremy Lin was the most popular basketball player Houston had since Yao Ming retired. He was set to be the Rockets “franchise” player—at least for the 2012-13 season—without any real elite skill or All-Star caliber ability.

In this new role, with new responsibilities hanging heavy over his head, Lin would suddenly transform into the nightly focus for opposing defenses, an answer to “who should take the last shot?,” and, most significantly, someone charismatic enough to convince casual fans who can afford it that season tickets might actually be a pretty good idea.

But as Grantland’s Zach Lowe pointed out earlier this week, even before Daryl Morey and Sam Presti blindsided the basketball universe by exchanging some stuff for James Harden and some other stuff, the Rockets didn’t expect to get Lin from the Knicks. They wanted him—and they obviously prepared for what might happen should they get him—but anything other than “delivering an offer sheet will give New York’s front office a major headache!” didn’t qualify as a probable conclusion for Morey or his staff.

Of course the Knicks would match their offer! Right?

A little more than a quarter of the way through this season, after watching Lin struggle and Harden thrive as best he can beside a struggling point guard, we’re now forced to ask ourselves an increasingly pivotal question: is this really Houston’s backcourt of the future?

Being that Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are the only players in the league who’ve scored more points than Harden this season, that question basically translates to “Should the Rockets trade Jeremy Lin?”

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Preview: Houston Rockets @ New York Knicks

This is a game that many fans in New York will have had circled for a long time. For the only time this year, Linsanity will return to the arena in which it exploded onto the global stage. While the teams have met once this year already, there is no doubt that Madison Square Garden will be a louder and more electric atmosphere than the Toyota Center was. And all the eyes, all the media attention will be focused on Jeremy Lin.

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Toronto Raptors 103, Houston Rockets 96

The last time your Houston Rockets won in Toronto, it was 2007.  Rafer Alston had one of his rare good games and put up 23 points on 9-14 shooting, Kirk Snyder and John Lucas played decent minutes, and even Vassilis Spanoulis  got on the court for 51 seconds.  Since then, playing in Toronto has not been a place to just lose, but a place to lose miserably and without even the slightest shred of good feelings.  In January 2009, Tracy McGrady submitted what has simply been known afterwards as the Toronto game, where he basically quit on Houston and completely changed the direction and relationship between himself and the franchise.  Next December, Trevor Ariza in his frustration swung an elbow at a rookie Demar Derozan’s back in what was a classless move.  Tonight, in fact, was arguably our best loss yet as it marks the first time that the Rockets did not lose by double digits since that 2007 win.

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