Teams: Philadelphia 76ers (15-56) @ Houston Rockets (48-22)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Center
Television: CSN Houston

Notes:

  • The Rockets lost their first matchup with the 76ers, as Tony Wroten had a triple-double (18 pnt, 10 reb, 11 ast) and one-time Rocket James Anderson had career-high 36 points.
  • James Harden missed that game with a bruised foot, but Jeremy Lin filled in admirably with 34 points on 10-19 shooting (9-15 from 3!).  He also had 11 assists and 5 rebounds, although he did commit 8 turnovers.
  • The previous matchup with the 76ers was also the last straw for Omer Asik after moving out of the starting lineup.  He refused to dress-out for the Rockets’ next two games after playing only 4 minutes in the loss to Philadelphia.
  • Since December, James Harden’s 3pt% has risen from 30% to 34% in January, 42% in February and now 46% in March.
  • A loss for Philadelphia tonight would tie them with the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers (26 straight) for the longest losing streak in NBA history.

Injuries:

Dwight Howard knocked knees with Terrence Jones in practice on Wednesday, and sat out the rest of practice as a precaution.  It was not serious and he will be in the lineup tonight.  

Francisco Garcia is still being listed as “day-to-day” due to personal reasons.  He has missed two straight games and his availability for tonight’s game is unknown.

As for Philadelphia, other than Nerlens Noel’s continued absence, no other Sixer is listed on the injury report.  [read more...]

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James Harden for 1st team All-NBA?

James Harden is a superstar by almost any objective measurement. He’s spent the year scoring at will, flattening the intrigue out of close games by turning them into blowouts, demoralizing and humiliating some of the best defenders in the word, unofficially establishing himself as one of the league’s 12 best players, and officially starting in his first All-Star game in a ridiculously deep Western Conference.

He’s a one-man stampede in transition, a volcanic eruption waiting to happen whenever isolated on the perimeter, and only two or three guys make scoring points in the NBA look easier. If sandpaper and velvet had a baby, Harden is how that baby would play basketball. His signature step back jumper is so deadly and beautiful, it makes you want to blow air kisses at a complete stranger.

His game is tough and elegant, and combines all the boring elements of an assembly line with the pure adrenaline rush that accompanies gravity-defying dunks, courageous forays into the paint, and pull up transition threes that don’t make a lick of sense until white nylon starts to dance above the rim. [read more...]

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Huq’s Pen: Where the West stands

I looked at the West standings this past Sunday, noting that at that point in time, things stood as the most favorable layout for a Houston Rockets trip to the Finals.  The problem is that with Portland in all-out free-fall mode, I don’t see things holding course.

[read more...]

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On the NBA: Moral Victories

Yes, we believe in these—some of us do, anyway. In all likelihood, your propensity to dub a loss as a victory in the “moral” department is greatly exacerbated by your emotional proximity to the team of discussion. When we put our pride in other men and they’ve handled it wrong, this distinction gives is something literary, something weighty-but-not-quantifiable to make peace with in face of the oppressive Win-Loss binary, staring us down and telling us No.

But what of Moral Losing (alternately known as Immoral Winning)—victories undeserved, in which said binary failed the team’s fans by not ensuring a lesson would be learned from the match, which the hometown Losers now get to pat themselves on the back about, riding the floss-thin wire of their fateful escape?

Who’s doing what this season, in terms of these metrics; known heretofore as MV% and ML%?

[read more...]

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The Rockets Daily – March 26, 2014

The crew of Hickory-High got together for a roundtable discussion on which matchups were the best/worst case scenario for some of the Western Conference contenders.  The Rockets had near-unanimous agreement on their scenarios.

Kraetsch: Best case is Blazers as neither team will care that they are giving up tons of points and Houston will thrive against a team not interested in stopping them from scoring. Worst case is easily the Clippers who have won all three matchups and are not only a team that will tear up a lacking Houston defense.

One writer opined that Golden State would be the ideal scenario for Houston in Round 1, while another decided the Warriors would be a dreadful matchup for Houston.

Personally, I like the standings the way they are.  Portland does what Houston does, but across the board they just can’t matchup with the Rockets.  The Portland backcourt has no one as talented as James Harden, their frontcourt cannot contain Dwight Howard and no one on the Blazers bench is as impactful as Omer Asik.  As for Golden State, the Rockets would still be favored over the Warriors (although, Jalen Rose would disagree) but Steph Curry’s shooting and Andre Iguodala’s defense is enough to make anyone nervous.  No offense to Portland, but Damian Lillard isn’t there yet and Wes Matthews and Nic Batum have never drawn comparisons to Scottie Pippen.

Isn’t he just the best? -

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