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.Rockets PG and SF make All-Star game – Did I get you with the page break? Of course I’m referring to Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington making the NBA Development League All-Star team. But either player could end up not participating in the festivities.
Both rookies are back on the Rockets’ roster and would have to be assigned to the Vipers to play in the game, as with Terrence Jones when he was a D-League All Star without playing in the game last season. Canaan is out with a hamstring injury and is unlikely to be cleared to play by then, making it even more likely that the Rockets would reassign him to the Vipers in time to play in the All Star game, making that his first game back.
So far, Canaan is averaging 21.5 ppg (.44%FG, .38%3pt), with 8 assists and 4 rebounds in 17 D-League games. Covington is putting up 21 ppg (.42%FG, .35%3pt), 8.8 rpg and 2.1 apg in 21 contests.World Cup Draw – The draw is always one of the highlights leading up to the FIFA World Cup. Who will America draw? Will it be the Group of Death? It’s must-see TV for soccer fans. Well, FIBA held the draw for the World Cup of Basketball (that’s going to take some serious getting used to) yesterday and I’m not even sure if it was televised.Group C is comprised of the USA, Turkey, Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand and Ukraine. Only two players on all five of the other squads in Team USA’s group currently ply their trade in the NBA, and you’ll never guess which team they both happen to play for. If Dwight Howard plays for this summer’s team, he will be matched up against Turkey’s big-man, Omer Asik. The universe is funny like that. Meanwhile, should Harden suit up this summer, he and Francisco Garcia could end up across from each other when the USA plays the Dominican Republic.Speaking of Garcia and Asik, when asked about his thoughts on how the groupings fell, Garcia provided the quote of the day.
Francisco Garcia on being in Group C with US, Turkey, said probably match up w/ LeBron more than Harden. On Asik: “O will probably be hurt.”— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 3, 2014
If memory serves me, I’m pretty sure Lebron is taking some time off from international play, maybe for good. I’m sure he’ll play in one more Olympics, but his World Cup days are probably done. But that wasn’t the meat of that tweet.Now, Feigen does go on to explain to a follower that this was just boys being boys in a locker room. There are few limits in that setting, even among professionals. Garcia was simply kidding Asik about his time missed. Feigen also said that Garcia, possibly due to being elder statesman, is the one guy on the team that can get away with that sort of thing.But I once read a passage from a Dennis Leary book; it was pretty standard men/Mars & women/Venus material. But one thing that struck me as funny was a (fuzzy-detailed) story about one of Leary’s childhood buddies losing his pitching arm while playing around some train tracks. He pointed out that while women might feel bad for a fellow-female in similar circumstances and dance around the uncomfortable truth, boys will embrace it and use it as a form of comedy or ribbing with the guy. In Leary’s case they gave the buddy, a southpaw, the permanent nickname Lefty. My point is, there is usually some kind of truth behind thick-skinned jokes like this one. I’m not implying Garica was taking a shot at Asik, but he certainly didn’t mind a poke.After all, Omer Asik has missed almost the entire season with a thigh bruise, while Patrick Beverley didn’t even miss a full month after hand surgery to repair a broken bone in his shooting hand. There has almost assuredly been some posturing by Asik and his representation to expedite a trade and Garcia couldn’t help but taunt him for it a little.