• Patrick Beverley is now shooting 49% from deep on the year, after another stellar performance in his return to action Saturday night.  That figure certainly won’t hold, but I’m curious to see how far his accuracy regresses.  Recall that since last summer, after a year in which Beverley shot 36% on 3’s, I penciled in Beverley’s magic number as 39%, saying if the point guard could just simply raise his percentage by that small margin, he’d be the ideal fit at the position next to James Harden, long term.  While many disagree, I think I still stand by that point.  Beverley knows his role, takes few risks and manages the game, is of course one of the best defenders in the league, and is perhaps the emotional leader of this team.  If he’s spreading the floor, what more could you ask for from that position?  Wouldn’t it be better to have someone who is happy expending 100% of his energy on defense rather than someone who possibly might not be happy with his number of touches?
  • It’s an important question going forward for the team with Beverley’s impending free agency this summer.  And don’t look now, but New Orleans is now 9-10, having fallen to last place in the southwest division.  Many, including myself, feared the Pelicans might make the playoffs this season after witnessing the frightening dominance of Anthony Davis in the season’s first week.  Those concerns are proving to have been premature as not only is New Orleans behind the current top 8 teams, but they are also playing catch up to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Ultimately, that means the Rockets are pretty good odds to have a late lottery pick sent their way this summer.  And that matter ties in with the issue of Beverley.

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in columns
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Rockets Roundup: 12/8/14

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.’ ”

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in columns

The Rockets have plays now

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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.

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in essays

Screenshot 2014-12-07 19.18.42

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.

Screenshot 2014-12-07 19.19.34

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.

in from the editor
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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.

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in game coverage
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