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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.

The only hitch seems to be Gasol’s health.  It’s reported that his groin injury is worse than first thought, and though the Lakers are pitching it as not serious, the Suns want to see how he recovers before pulling the trigger.  This Lakers are done, they sit in the bottom of the West and 11 games out of the 8th seed. A draft pick and some savings sounds smart.  Of course Kobe would be pissed, thinking he can still climb up the standings when he gets back, but they better start looking to their future.

Many stars are aligning for the Suns this year.  Rockets fans are well versed with the Suns’ leading scorer Goran Dragic.  He’s having a career year, his 5th in the league.  He leads the Suns with 20 a game while shooting over 50% from the field. His PER is an impressive 22.3, that’s higher than Howard or Harden.  He had 19 in a win over Houston in early December.  The Morris brothers are also having career years with Markieff hitting almost 13 a game, and former Rocket Marcus good for 10 a game.  Jeff Hornacek is having a great run as well.  He was Western Conference coach of the month in December and he’s only the third person to be named player and coach of the month (Bird and Drew are the other two).  He’s in the running for coach of the year.

The Rockets seem to gelling as of late, even though the injury bug continues to bite.  They are 7 and 3 in their last 10, with some big wins over the Spurs and Trailblazers, and a couple of tough losses to the Grizzlies.  They will play the Suns twice in the next 18 days.  The schedule looks pretty good to the Rockets, and a win at home could set up a nice run for the next three weeks.

Feigen’s story in the Chron about Asik doesn’t clear up any mysteries.  I find it highly suspect that after a two month absence he may be ready to go in 7 to 10 days.  This seems to be coincidentally coordinated with the Feb. 20th trading deadline.  Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I’m not buying either party line on Asik about his “injury”.  Wouldn’t it be great if he got well in time to showcase a couple of games and find a buyer?

Speaking of the trade deadline, is there any interest in Garcia?  He’s due to return against the Suns. Now that Covington and Canaan were named to the D League all-star team, is there any chance they might help the Rockets land a player that could help their rotation?  With any luck the Rockets can continue to roll against the Suns, maybe make a move at the deadline and keep edging closer to the elite teams in the league.

 

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Total comments: 26
  • Buckko says 8 months ago Fine by me SSF, no argument here.
  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago

    The video did not contain evidence and like I said, it's the sitting on the floor, not necessary the getting back on D.

    Okaaaaaaay, you keep your opinion.

    I say it's not like it doesn't ever happen. I disagree with you, I don't think it's a big deal and I am going with my opinion, rocketrick's and Strauss' critique of Wade (super quick search of star players not getting back).

    If that is an important thing for you then great. We are all Rockets fans and choose to spend time thinking about different events and occurrences Rocket related and hey maybe some fans want to spend time thinking about Harden not getting back on defense, each unto their own.

  • Cooper says 8 months ago Not getting back is still not getting back yeah sitting on the floor looks ridiculous but it's the same end result.
  • Buckko says 8 months ago The video did not contain evidence and like I said, it's the sitting on the floor, not necessary the getting back on D.
  • feelingsupersonic says 8 months ago

    "He [Wade> has been a problem time and time again in this series on just simply getting back on defense" -E.S. Strauss

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1210550-heat-need-killer-instinct-its-do-or-die

    This a Dwayne Wade at a stage in his career that is well beyond James Harden in experience. All the stars have problems with getting into it with the refs, ya'll need to get off Harden's jock.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    Like I said, give me a video of durant, lebron, wade, or Paul, ect.. sitting on the court, whining while an opponent goes the entire court for a layup because they gave up on the play.


    I don't have any video to add to my message, but I've seen plenty of times when all of these guys have sat on the court, laid on the court, or just stayed on the other side of the court and gave up on the play allowing their opponent an easy shot. As others have mentioned in this thread, it is unfortunately part of the game. I don't like it either but I suppose there are those times where the player is trying to make a valid point to the referee.

    Anyone watching NBA these days know how horrible and inconsistent the refereeing is. It's abominable. But the good teams just play through it to the best of their ability, although from time to time their top dog will make an extra point of emphasis and it can payoff on a later possession (make up calls, anyone?).
  • Buckko says 8 months ago Like I said, give me a video of durant, lebron, wade, or Paul, ect.. sitting on the court, whining while an opponent goes the entire court for a layup because they gave up on the play.
  • dbd says 8 months ago

    Didn't know flopping is contagious. :)

  • Cooper says 8 months ago

    Not to Harden's point of emphasis, you won't see Lebron, durant, or any other star stay on the floor and give up on a play when doesn't get the call. Now to say this again, no hate on harden but he needs to cut that out. It looks terrible and tends to end in the other team scoring.

    Lebron and Wade do it all the time. Paul does it, Durant does it the least I've seen but everyone's guilty of it from time to time.
  • Alituro says 8 months ago

    I've been hard, lately, on Lin for driving and passing at the last second often leaving the post players scrambling to recover and bail him out. Last night I saw a shift in that when Lin drove, Howard or Jones, whoever was on the weak side, instead of concentrating in being in position for the rebound, boxing out his man, released a little to the outside and gave Lin a hand in the sky for an outlet. This is something I can live with, as long as the strong side post guy collapses behind Lin in case he shoots. I believe it was around 3 minutes and some change left in the 3rd that I noticed a glaring example. Drive and kick or Drive and drop is a good strategy for Lin's play style, but only as long as the rest of the team is prepared for it. Lowry was very adept at this aspect of the game.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    I thought it was extremely ironic of Tucker complaining about Harden flopping early in the game and then later, tried to flop but didn't get a call and harden nailed a 3.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    Not to Harden's point of emphasis, you won't see Lebron, durant, or any other star stay on the floor and give up on a play when doesn't get the call. Now to say this again, no hate on harden but he needs to cut that out. It looks terrible and tends to end in the other team scoring.

  • Red94 says 8 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 122, Phoenix Suns 108: Solid Frontcourt, Solid Shooting, Solid Victory.
    By: Paul McGuire

    After the constant back-to-backs and games one after the other, it certainly came as a solid relief for the Houston Rockets to have some time off while playing only two to three games over a week.  By contrast, the Phoenix Suns had to face off against Tom Thibodeau and his incredibly intense Chicago Bulls yesterday, meaning that their legs were not quite there tonight.  The old-style Houston frontcourt of Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard thoroughly trounced Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye, and a Phoenix frontcourt which prefers jump shots to more traditional big men play, and the well-rested Rockets also had their best shooting performance in a long, long time.  The result was a good, solid win, one with a few scares but where Houston possessed a decent lead for practically the entire game.

    Both Jones and Dwight came out extremely aggressive to start the game.  Jones drew first blood, as he grabbed three offensive rebounds on the very first possession of the game, and then either scored or assisted on 12 of Houston’s first 22 points. Once Jones slowed down a tad, Howard started to demand the ball in the post.  Phoenix just did not have anyone who could handle Dwight; Plumlee did his very best, but Dwight still had 15 points by the end of the first half.  Howard and Jones continued their rampage in the 2nd half.  Howard did miss a few chip shots from the post that I’m sure that he would have liked to redo, but he still finished with 34 points on 17 shots.

    But what was most impressive was that having failed to pay attention to Houston’s recent victories against San Antonio and Dallas, Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek decided that it was his turn to hack Dwight Howard at the end of the game.  Howard responded by going 5-6 from the free throw line for that stretch, and finished 12-18 for the game:  over the current winning streak, Howard is shooting about 65% from the line, a massive change compared to his 48% shooting over the course of January.  If opposing coaches really want to use this hacking strategy so badly, they honestly should foul Jones instead.

    Despite Howard’s incredible success, the Phoenix Suns never bothered to double-team Howard.  It is well-known that a common strategy against Howard is that instead of focusing on stopping him, the defense concentrates on shutting down the 3 point shooters that Dwight could pass to if double-teamed.  However, while the Suns did not succeed in slowing down Howard, and in fact bolstered his points by hacking, neither did they stop Houston’s three point shooters.  Screens and rolls were set, and the Rockets hit over 60% from long range in tonight’s game (though Donatas Motiejunas should still be fined $50,000 whenever he even thinks of attempting a three), while the tired Suns could not keep up.  Phoenix, particularly Goran Dragic, played brilliant offense in transition, and even grabbed a 46-40 lead at one point in the 2nd quarter.  But on the whole, they could not keep with Houston’s big men and their halfcourt play.

    • There are other perimeter defenders who seem to decide that they were put in this world to stop James Harden, but I can’t recall another, not even Tony Allen, who seems to dislike Harden as much as PJ Tucker – which is made all the better by the fact that said acrimony appears to be mutual.  Harden did try to take Tucker on in the isolation a few times, and those admittedly really did not work.  Nevertheless, Harden still had an excellent offensive game.  He finished with 23 points on 10 shots and earned 12 foul shots, his highest amount since January 10 against Atlanta.
    • Francisco Garcia has apparently recovered from knee tendinitis, but he did not play a single minute tonight.  Garcia has badly struggled when he was healthy, and the arrival of Motiejunas has lessened the need for smallball and thus pushed him somewhat out of the rotation.  Still, the fact that Houston has only two injured players at this point (or perhaps one, depending on your interpretation of Omer Asik’s situation) is enough reason for a small sigh of relief.
  • Steven says 8 months ago

    I really wish harden wouldn't stay on the floor whining when he doesn't get the call. He's an amazing player, one of the best, but you know if that was any other rocket, they would be up and running. Every time he does that, it becomes harder to respect him even with his game. To be a leader, you need respect. To get respect, you need to be tough even when it's hard.

    All the star players do it. It's part of the game.
  • Buckko says 8 months ago I really wish harden wouldn't stay on the floor whining when he doesn't get the call. He's an amazing player, one of the best, but you know if that was any other rocket, they would be up and running. Every time he does that, it becomes harder to respect him even with his game. To be a leader, you need respect. To get respect, you need to be tough even when it's hard.
  • Dayak says 8 months ago I really want to see Bev destroys Dragic tonight to prove Morey's decision was right.
  • ale11 says 8 months ago

    So I guess that means both Cisoo Kid and AB have no-trade clauses, then.

    They've signed for the minimum or somewhere near that to play here, and I think both could have made some more money elsewhere. If they like being here and embrace the roles offered to them (García as a "lead by example" experienced player, Brooks as a spark plug), they won't be too happy about the organization wanting to ship them elsewhere and ultimately, I think the Rockets want both of them here and aren't looking to see what they can get for them.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago I doubt Phoenix will agree to trade Markieff Morris to the Lakers to make that deal happen. In my opinion, probably just really depends on the Lakers and if they are willing to accept a low 1st round draft pick and Okafor straight up for Gasol. Do the Lakers even care about luxury tax and repeater tax with their $3 billion TV deal? We shall soon find out!
  • Stephen says 8 months ago

    Keep in mind Phoenix reporters were stating Channing Frye was going to Houston as part of a three team deal back in early Dec when Asik was being actively shopped.(And Phoenix wasn't getting Asik.)
    (An Asik,Turner,Frye deal would have worked,as would an Asik,small contract,Lee(HOU),Favarini(Phoe),Frye deal.)

    As many deals rework themselves over time,if Pho gets Gasol,I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade away Frye.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    García has a no-trade clause and I seriously doubt he wants to leave Houston.


    So I guess that means both Cisoo Kid and AB have no-trade clauses, then.
  • ale11 says 8 months ago

    New post: Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets on 2/5/14
    By: Eric Nielsen

    Speaking of the trade deadline, is there any interest in Garcia?

    García has a no-trade clause and I seriously doubt he wants to leave Houston.

  • rocketrick says 8 months ago

    I think it is possible for such a scenario, but I'm still not convinced. Asik clearly flipped out when he heard he wasn't starting. Refusing to play was a really bad move, but we've all done really bad moves in the heat of the moment. Its one thing to miss a game or two because you are no longer starting and want a trade; it is quite another to fake an injury for weeks on end. At the end of the day, guys like Asik really want to play, and its hard to believe that he's missing all this time knowing he could be out on the court. I still think that the most plausible explanation is that Asik has a freakish knee injury, the Rockets are not sure about handling it, and so are now being ultra-cautious in the fears of doing long-term damage.

    BTW, Greg Smith's knee injury is just as puzzling in many respects. Could something be wrong with the Rockets training/medical staff? It appears that they botched the diagnosis on two key knee injuries, but that could be just my ill-informed perception.


    I believe as quickly as Patrick Beverley has returned from his injury and the fact other players have missed time but come back relatively healthy in a short period of time (Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, James Harden for instance) shows that the Rockets have a more than capable medical staff.

    If memory serves, Greg Smith did return to health only to become injured again. Different injuries, too, if I recall correctly.

    Asik, he's just a mystery. The Rockets may have just made a decision to not go public with their complaints about how Asik and his agent are handling that situation. Perhaps in time that could change.

    However, even if Asik was physically 100% healthy, I do worry about his mental condition primarily in terms of attitude. If he's just going through the motions and doesn't have his heart and his head into it, in my opinion he would be more detrimental to the Rockets going forward.
  • Buckko says 8 months ago Greg smith has been dealing with a recurring knee sprain that doesn't seem to heal and asik got a major thigh bruise right above the knee which led to fluids swelling up the knee constantly. Sorry to say but most teams couldn't care less for D-league allstars and Garcia has no valuable what so ever.
  • Johnny Rocket says 8 months ago

    I think it is possible for such a scenario, but I'm still not convinced. Asik clearly flipped out when he heard he wasn't starting. Refusing to play was a really bad move, but we've all done really bad moves in the heat of the moment. Its one thing to miss a game or two because you are no longer starting and want a trade; it is quite another to fake an injury for weeks on end. At the end of the day, guys like Asik really want to play, and its hard to believe that he's missing all this time knowing he could be out on the court. I still think that the most plausible explanation is that Asik has a freakish knee injury, the Rockets are not sure about handling it, and so are now being ultra-cautious in the fears of doing long-term damage.

    BTW, Greg Smith's knee injury is just as puzzling in many respects. Could something be wrong with the Rockets training/medical staff? It appears that they botched the diagnosis on two key knee injuries, but that could be just my ill-informed perception.

  • senkay says 8 months ago

    Johnny,

    Thanks for asking. I guess my suspicions were aroused when Asik was too hurt to play that game early in the season when he obviously was just pouting. I've felt that even when he played this year, he's played heartlessly and that that may be taking his stock down. Maybe the Rockets aren't playing him because they don't trust him anymore and playing him risks his trade value. Maybe they don't trust that he will give a full effort and that that may take down his stock. It seems like a game is being played between Asik and the team. Why has the info coming out of Houston been so thin? Where is Asik on the sideline of games when the other injured players are court side? Why is McHale saying "everything is not definite"? Why won't Asik come clean and speak his piece to the media? Maybe other teams don't think he's injured. Maybe Asik doesn't want to play another minute for the Rockets and the Rockets only want Asik to play enough to show he has trade value. I can only imagine how pissed McHale must have been when Asik decided not to play that early game (and rightfully so). I can imagine that anger may not have dissipated.

    There are so many what if's and unknowns to this situation that it's led to confusion and circumspect. I feel there is no logic in the situation, but lots of feelings in the mix. Talk to us Asik.

    What do you think?

  • Johnny Rocket says 8 months ago

    Eric--what do you think is the motivation for either Asik or the Rockets to "pretend" that Asik is injured? I don't get it. Asik wants to play elsewhere, and one sure way NOT to be traded is to be injured. And what incentive for the Rockets to play along? It might look bad for a team to say "Player X is disgruntled and not playing," but it is even worse (for the purposes of making a trade) to say that "Player X has a swollen knee and can't play." I'm all for conspiracy theories, but I prefer them to have coherent motivations.

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