Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets on 2/5/14

After only two games in the last week, the Rockets have had some time to get healthy, rest, eat home-cooked meals and get some practice time in.  While the Rockets have been resting, the Suns will be on the back end of a back to back. But they better be ready because Phoenix is on a roll.  The Rockets and Suns are sitting at 5th and 6th in the West and a win at home would give the Rockets a little room. The Suns are 8 and 2 in their last 10, without Eric Bledsoe! This game should be a good barometer for the Rockets.

The big news for the Suns is the trade talk with the Lakers for Pau Gasol.  I predict this deal will happen.  Basically the Suns give up a first round pick to rent Gasol for the rest of the season (though they would hold the Bird rights on him).  The Suns could have 4 first round picks in the loaded 2014 draft, and they could spare one, or more.  This could give them huge momentum.  Imagine adding a playoff experienced, 7 foot veteran, who is averaging 17 and 10 to your team.

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The Red94 Podcast: Episode 33

In today’s episode, Rahat discusses the resurgence of Jeremy Lin, the insertion of Donatas Motiejunas into the lineup, and muses on hypothetical Russell Westbrook trades.

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The Rockets Daily – February 4, 2014

Week 14 Rankings - Marc Stein’s newest edition of the weekly NBA power rankings has posted, with the Rockets finally ending their back-and-forth bouncing between spots eight and nine, rising two spots to number seven.

The first triple-double from a Rockets reserve since Cedric Maxwell in March 1988, courtesy of Jeremy Lin, was only the week’s second-biggest development in Houston. The biggest: Dwight Howard’s quality free throw shooting against the Spurs’ and Mavs’ latest Hack-A-Dwight tactics.

Those two games were a delight from Howard, and that he followed them up with a 6-8 performance against the Cavaliers made for one of the better three game free throw-shooting stretches since he joined Houston.  But those numbers were deceiving; Howard only shot 48%FT (but 50% from downtown) in the month of January.

Also, the Clippers, Grizzlies and Blazers (ranks 3, 4 & 5) all followed up the rankings with losses last night, leaving the Rockets a chance to make up some ground with four of their next five games coming against weak competition and only 3.5 games separating them and the two-seed.

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We Are All Donatas Motiejunas – Part 2

Click here for part 1 of this post. 

The Spurs-Mavericks back-to-back last week was interesting. With Harden out, the Rockets three remaining guards were more aggressive (again, no data, you’ll just have to take my word for it). Not only Lin and Brooks, but also Beverley was penetrating with regularity. He even showed off a spin move I didn’t know he had. Motiejunas went into Lithuanian lion mode. He crashed the boards (19 in 44 combined minutes) and showed some tenacity defensively. The team as a whole was much less talented with Harden out, but I’m positive each player felt more ownership over the final product.

That cohesion continued into the Cavs game, in which the Rockets bench ignited two runs and were clearly the difference in the game. My favorite sequence came in the third quarter immediately after Howard was whistled for a 3-seconds violation. On the previous defensive possession, Motiejunas was called for a blocking foul. While Kyrie Irving shot his technical free throw, I could clearly see Beverley talking to Motiejunas and demonstrating defensive positioning techniques. On the ensuing inbounds play, Motiejunas drew a charge on Irving. On the next defensive possession, he made a stop by himself.

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We Are All Donatas Motiejunas – Part 1

NOTE: Despite being the data guy, there is no statistical analysis in this post. Once in a while, I, like everyone else, am allowed to form an opinion that is unsubstantiated by data. And now I’m going to shout that opinion through a megaphone to convince the internet that it is correct.

Last year I found myself in an employment situation that could be politely described as shitastic. My workplace was small, about ten people, two of whom were bosses. Because my office was my office, otherwise merely bad situations became apocalyptic ones. I’ll spare everyone the gory details, but I do want to share one anecdote from those dark days.

Before the start of a big office project, one of our bosses declared publicly that there were two types of people in the office, “visionaries and worker bees.” He then identified himself, the other boss, and two others as visionaries, and the rest of us as worker bees. Then he told us to submit ideas for the project.

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