Photo courtesy of ben mathews via Flickr.
Quick programming notice for those who’ve seen the “Notes on a String”: I’m going to be shifting this column’s nature over to that of an all-purpose notebook column, more like the “Rockets Daily” column of olden times. Now that you’ve been reprogrammed, read up.
- In a sweet bit of formality amidst a year full of informal sabotage, Dwight Howard finally decided to be a sweetheart and kill this season after slowly torturing it like a Takashi Miike villain in every face-palmingly obtuse way possible by shutting dow n his season thanks to back surgery. Firstly, the Indiana Pacers may thank their lucky stars that, though they may have only had to face a Magic team that was such (a team) in name only, they avoided even a diluted, half-hearted version of this league’s second-best player, given the matchup problems Howard has created for Indiana’s Ent-like Roy Hibbert thanks to his speed and agility in comparison to Hibbert’s… not those things. Secondly, at least Van Gundy will get to go out with his head held high, unworried about stepping on the notoriously fragile toes of this organization’s “franchise player” (who has shown no interest in this franchise beyond this obligatory upcoming year) and free to rant, fulminate and generally stew on the Orlando sideline to his heart’s content while wondering which new team he’ll have overachieving come next winter. Most importantly, though, is the actual reasoning behind all of this; the difference between a self firebombing and an actual back injury, the kind that lingers for years and hinders mobility to no end (which fans of both Houston and this Orlando team probably know), is vast and could change the future of not just this team, but this league. Either the league’s best big man has been injured in a way that might permanently affect his game and impact, or the league’s biggest primadonna just pulled one of the most brazen power moves in recent sports history; either way, this announcement mattered more than an impact on the outcome a series between a three and six seed. [read more…]
Chase Budinger doesn’t “look” like one of the most athletic players in the NBA, but he is. In the open court he flies at the basket as if the court were made of trampoline (if that’s an actual material); it’d be difficult to name 10 guys who’re more capable of catching out of reach lobs and slamming them through the rim.
But being a great athlete doesn’t guarantee playing time, nor does it make you a useful basketball player. After starting this season being relegated from “starting small forward” to “occasional guy off the bench”, Budinger has struggled to find a consistent job with the team, and given his noticeable on-the-ball defensive flaws, it was pertinent he mold a specific skill set and fit himself into one of the roles that every consistently successful team has. [read more…]
Barring some miraculous turn of events, the Houston Rockets’ 2011-2012 season ended last night in Dallas. They came out scorching hot and even kept things together in the 3rd (outscoring the Mavericks 29-23), only to get pummeled in the 4th by Dirk Nowitzki and co.
Dirk finished with 35 after scoring just 4 points in the first half. Vince Carter turned back the clock, keeping Dallas in it in the first half, including a pair of uncontested dunks. Jason Terry was Jason Terry and Jason Kidd hit some timely 3’s.
When posed with the quagmire of acquiescence to defeat or certain annihilation, one must quickly consider the benefits and detriments of both; sadly, the Houston Rockets are currently locked in such thinking, left with a relatively easy schedule that could allow them to trip over themselves into the eighth seed and certain destruction at the hands of the Thunder or Spurs… or the equally easy choice of shutting down Kyle Lowry, Marcus Camby and Kevin Martin and hopefully watching the team wilt away while being able to hold onto this year’s lottery pick. It seems insane that such a question is being asked this late in a season, but nothing about this season has made much sense for the Rockets or their fans. Making one decision here that attempted to right it all would be preferable. [read more…]
A part of me still thinks the Rockets will make the postseason. Well, let’s just say it wouldn’t surprise me given the way this season has played out. Tonight will be the team’s last ‘hard’ (on paper) matchup out of what is left. Golden State should be a cakewalk, as should the Hornets (Kaman out for the year.) The Heat game is a tossup – will they still be in the race for the #1 seed or will they rest their starters? The Rockets could very likely go 4-1.
The Suns have games remaining against OKC, the Clippers, Denver, the Jazz, and the Spurs, a ‘who’s who’ murderer’s row of opponents. Except for that last game where one would expect Pops to rest his big guns, one could easily see Phoenix drop all of those matchups. But that still leaves Denver, Dallas, and Utah to compete with Houston for the last three spots.