In my past two years with Red94, I have been constantly reminded that I sometimes do not know what I am talking about. I made my lack of enthusiasm about the Josh Smith signing very clear in Tuesday’s roundtable, and was further concerned by the reports that the Rockets had outright promised him a starting position. But Smith did come off the bench. Kevin McHale before the game stated in an interview with NBA TV that he had never heard of such a promise and asserted that what mattered was who played at the end of the game.

Well, Smith did play at the end of the game. And while James Harden was clearly the best Rockets player on the floor tonight (32 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds) Houston would not have won without Josh Smith’s contributions. I guess this signing may turn out to be a good thing after all.

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I was going to throw up some thoughts yesterday, as promised on Twitter, but it was Christmas so I didn’t feel like doing anything.  But here’s the post.  Where do I begin?  If you hadn’t already, check out our roundtable from a few days ago before the news became official.  I don’t know if the guys have changed their opinion, but I for one am absolutely stoked.  I’ll get into that in a bit.

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As I remarked in our roundtable from yesterday, this was what I feared.  But unlike my colleagues, I am all for Smith, and it seems Rockets management is too.  They’re desperate to get the extra frontcourt help.

A reader noted that Smith might be best suited for the starting lineup because with the starters, Harden is the clear cut leader.  Off the bench, Smith might have had free rein to do the dumb things he has been known to do.

I’m looking at this from a positive perspective.  I’m not happy about Motiejunas losing his hope, but you have to make whatever assurances you can if it means solidifying a weakness.  To that end, Houston’s course is rational.






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Yahoo Sports reported Monday afternoon that the Houston Rockets had emerged as the frontrunner to land forward Josh Smith after the former Piston clears waivers on Wednesday.  We got together and talked about the news.

McGuire: We all know how the Rockets are supposedly this “3 and paint” team, but are we really that confident in our shooting to want Smith? There’s no one on this team aside from Beverley that I really, truly trust to make 3-pointers when Harden is driving to the rim. Not Ariza these days, not Brewer (though he hit 2 Monday night against Portland to my surprise), not Motiejunas. And on top of it, Houston is actually not a very good offensive team this year – just 20th as ranked by offensive rating. Yet we’re talking about signing someone who is arguably the worst 3-point shooter in NBA history and who has never had a positive impact on the offensive end.

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James Harden is, at worst, the third place candidate for NBA MVP. With a few more games like the night he had against the Portland Trail Blazers, Harden might just force his way to the top of the list. Harden came out like a flamethrower against the Blazers, ripping off 31 points and 5 steals… by halftime. He looked like a man possessed, and he led the charge against a shorthanded Portland team that just didn’t have the firepower to stop a riled up Rockets team. New players played well, old players threw down, and Jason Terry got his 2000th three pointer. The Rockets are winning with style again, and the crowd is finally getting riled up. The MVP chants are a regular sound in Houston, at long last.

The biggest asterisk is named LaMarcus Aldridge, and he missed the game with an illness. The next asterisk is Robin Lopez, who missed one of the many games he’s set to miss due to a broken hand. Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland started in their steads, a pairing which wasn’t up to the task of containing Howard and Harden. Leonard rained threes on the Rockets, pushing the Blazers to an early 12-4 lead, but Harden led the Rockets to a brutal response, and the Rockets beat the Blazers 69-41 for the rest of the first half. It was exciting, it was a promise of things to come, and it was an end to the longest losing streak (of two) the Rockets had all season.

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