A quick and digestible look at the most top-of-mind Rockets news of the past few days.
CBS Sports. Ariza and Beverley lead Rockets over Suns 100-95.
“Trevor Ariza and Pat Beverley each scored 19 points to lead the Rockets to their fourth straight victory, 100-95 over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Houston improved to 16-4 by winning for the seventh time in the nine games Howard (knee strain) has been out.”
Houston Chronicle. Rockets’ coach McHale: Dwight not returning from injury ‘anytime soon’.
“McHale had previously said he hoped that Howard, who has been out since Nov. 19, might be ready to return in time to play on the Rockets’ road trip Wednesday and Thursday to play Golden State and Sacramento. Asked if he had a better feel for Howard’s timetable, he said again, ‘He won’t be back anytime soon.’ ”
Since arriving in Houston, McHale and the coaching staff have implemented a ‘read-and-react’ style offence. The idea was that they wouldn’t run many plays, but would rely on players’ ability to find the open man, usually as a result of drive-and-kick style action. To start with, the offence was quite basic, but as time goes on more and more wrinkles have been added. As the motion gets more and more intricate, it becomes difficult to tell if the Rockets have kept to the principle of a play-light offence or are now running sets from the practice court. The first half of the Rockets’ overtime win over the Timberwolves seemed especially full of possessions that could well have been drawn up by the coaches. In this article I will take a look at a few that I found interesting.
Get well soon, Dwight Howard. As miraculous as the Rockets’ 16-4 start has been, it would truly be a shame if the hometown heroes did not get another crack at Golden State at close to full health. Until they show they can beat the top teams in the league, the Rockets won’t get the credit they deserve. (The thrashing they delivered to the then-league leading Memphis Grizzlies was apparently not validation enough).
After the affair with the Warriors, Houston travels to Sacramento to visit the slipping Kings who have fallen out of the playoff picture since a hot start.
There’s a glance at how things stand currently in the murderous Western Conference. Without Trevor Ariza, and with Chandler Parsons, my guess is that Houston’s 16-4 would be much closer to Sacramento’s 10-10. The only way the Rockets have weathered this injury storm is through the complete identity transformation we are witnessing. Every player on this team has bought in and it is showing. Now, they need to get healthy.
The Houston Rockets have stopped giving up. Sure, they sometimes give up points, or possessions, or leads from time to time, but they aren’t giving up in the larger sense. They won’t quit, they keep grinding through injury, and with the exception of one blowout this season, they never seem to know when they’re beat. This back-to-back contest against a Western Conference playoff candidate should have been a loss. The Rockets were missing Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Isaiah Canaan and Kostas Papanikolaou. Patrick Beverley, while back in action, was coming off the bench. Injuries and fatigue kept coming in waves, something which ought to be simply too much to deal with.
The Rockets went ahead and dealt with it anyway, holding off a late push just long enough for a blowout victory to melt into free throws late. James Harden battled back tightness late in the game and he was visibly uncomfortable. He’s expressed that he doesn’t expect to miss games, but the pain clearly hurt his performance against the Suns. Francisco Garcia joined the ranks of the mobile field hospital, this time due to an ankle sprain. Another injury is never good, but the silver lining is that the injury bug seems to be moving down the depth chart, not up.