Houston Rockets 112, Indiana Pacers 86: Wow.

Wow.

Just…wow.

I don’t believe what I witnessed.  Sure, the Indiana Pacers had lost two straight games before tonight, and had been blown out by the Charlotte Bobcats.  But that was all the more reason that tonight’s game would be a tough, bitter contest, where James Harden, Dwight Howard, and the rest of the Rockets would have to fight to earn every point from Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and the rest of the Pacers, right?

Well, to a degree, the Rockets did have to fight a bit on offense.  They only scored 50 points in the first half, as opposed to seemingly breaking 60 every other game. But they didn’t need an amazing offense to hold Indiana at bay, as the defense did the work – and then when the offense exploded in the third quarter, spearheaded by James Harden’s tomahawk slams and 3’s, the result was a beautiful symphony of total basketball dominance, as Houston earned its best win yet of a great season. Read More »

Posted in game coverage | Merged Comments | Sharethis | Permalink

Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets: feat. Jared Wade of 8 Points, 9 Seconds

Teams: Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston TX
Television: ESPN

Notes: In the first meeting between Houston and Indiana on December 20th in Indianapolis, the Pacers hammered the Rockets, 114-81.  The Rockets were missing both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.

Dwight Howard was the only Rocket to produce at anything near his per-game averages: 19 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks in 31 minutes.

Despite David West only scoring 12 points in that match-up, Terrence Jones somehow managed to have -30 point differential in only 25 minutes played.  Chandler Parsons (-23 in 33 mins) was the only other Rocket over under -20.

The last time the Pacers beat a winning team was exactly a month ago, an overtime win against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Insider’s View – Q&A with Jared Wade of 8 Points, 9 SecondsRead More »

Posted in game coverage | Tagged | 16 Comments | Sharethis | Permalink

On the NBA: What do the sleeves mean?

What’s up with these sleeves on the jerseys? Are we only talking about them because of our exhausting dorkdom for the game, or is there something actually going on?

Asked about the fancy t-shirts at his All-Star Weekend press conference, commissioner Adam Silver said that he’s prolonging the experiment because they’re selling at a very high rate, and that people generally seem to like them. He also signaled toward the possibility of advertisements on sleeves. (My optimist is telling me that the revenue from such a thing may help the league to cut down on commercial TV time, and speed up my precious game).

Read More »

Posted in columns | 1 Comment | Sharethis | Permalink

The Rockets Daily – March 7, 2014

The Great Wall of Asik - During the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference, Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry sat down with ESPN to discuss a few things NBA, mainly Goldsberry’s new study into how each pick-action should be valued during the course of a basketball game.  Goldsberry called picks “the most underrated events in basketball,” and added, “every basketball coach knows that it is the fundamental element of basketball”.  The trick, then, is finding a way to quantify the ways a good screen-setter can influence a game.

Well, thanks to 2.5 seasons of data collected by Vantage Sports, ESPN Insider Amin Elhassan was able to identify the most cost-effective pickers in the league.  He accredits Tiago Splitter, Kendrick Perkins and Daily-favorite Joakim Noah for being among the elite screeners in the Association, but due to their salary do not make the list.  Omer Asik, however, is the highest-paid player to make the cut.

Omer Asik | Houston Rockets

AAV: $8.4 million | Set Screens Per 100 Chances: 61.7
Solid Screen %: 72.9 | Set Screen Outcome Efficiency %: 34.7

Perhaps the hottest name on the trading block to go untraded, Asik’s role on offense has long been that of a guy who crashes the offensive glass and sets solid screens. We’ve been able to assess with reasonable accuracy his value to the former, but Vantage puts a number on the latter: Asik is one of the the most frequent screen setters in the game, ranking fifth in frequency among players with at least 1,000 samples. He makes contact or re-routes the defender almost 73 percent of the time, making him an effective screener. Asik’s 2014-15 balloon payment hurts, but in the right circumstance it might be a justifiable expense when taking into account his full impact on an offense.

I’ve said before that even Dwight Howard could learn a thing or two from watching Asik in the pick-and-roll.  Too often Howard will peel-off early, before the ball-handler even has time to use the screen, to attack the rim and try to get his own.  Asik, on the other hand, plants his feet and becomes a three-foot wide barricade in the middle of the court.  I even went as far as calling what he does an “Omer Asik specialty”.  He’s a tree-trunk of a man and knows how to use his size to affect the offense despite his lack of scoring ability.

This is why the sports analytics movement and the introduction of the camera-tracking technology is so great.  Such a small, historically insignificant play that happens countless times a game and could only really be measured by the eye-test, is finally getting its due.

But what it also means, is that despite the fact that there is information in existence that proves Omer Asik has the ability to lead the league in rebounding, anchor a top-ten defense and is one of the best screen-setters in the NBA, Daryl Morey was still unable to find a suitable trade partner at the deadline.  Funky contract or not, no wonder the turnover of NBA GMs is so high year-to-year.

Best in the West - Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney of the Point Forward batted-around a few questions about the top-tier teams in the Western Conference.  Topics ranged from who is most likely to win the one-seed, to who would have the best chance at beating the Heat and what is their dream WCF matchup.  One of them also chose a familiar face when answering who they thought (besides Russell Westbrook) is the biggest X-factor in the West-race, but we’ll get to that shortly.    Read More »

Posted in columns | Tagged | 8 Comments | Sharethis | Permalink

Player Power Rankings: Week 19

Every Friday, I rank the active Rockets (who sees the floor) based on their performance from the previous week. Unfortunately, due to various scheduling conflicts, I had to take the past two weeks off. Hopefully too many tears weren’t shed by all you loyal, dedicated readers out there!

12) Troy Daniels 

Two minutes of garbage time that provided a zero in every statistical category. Welcome to the Red94 Player Power Rankings, Mr. Daniels!

11)  Isaiah Canaan

See above, minus the second sentence.

10) Omri Casspi

The arrival of Jordan Hamilton and a healthy Omer Asik has nudged Omri Casspi to the end of Houston’s bench. He’s barely in the rotation, and played just 16 minutes this week even though he shot the ball pretty well. 

9) Donatas Motiejunas

Interesting week from Donatas Motiejunas, who tries really hard, but looks out of his element. He’s still too timid at the rim, rushing shots when nobody’s around. This week, the Rockets averaged 80.3 points per 100 possessions with Motiejunas on the floor. Those units only knew two ways to play: fast and atrocious.

Kevin McHale is pairing Motiejunas with Omer Asik quite a bit, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for the youngster to provide spacing and show his potential on the offensive end. Rebounding won’t be a priority, and he looks comfortable as a defender on the perimeter. He has quick feet and solid instincts. It’s time he combines them. That talent is waiting to burst. Read More »

Posted in columns | Tagged | Leave a comment | Sharethis | Permalink