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The Rockets Daily – October 7, 2013

At Last - In case you missed it, watch Dwight Howard’s first baskets in a Rockets uniform, and let the beauty of it sink in.

In that one game he made about five plays that Houston hasn’t had a center capable of making in at least four years, and that’s being generous to Yao.

Checkmate – Notice something about Howard first three baskets in the video above: there are at least three blue jerseys in his immediate vicinity every time. On the first play, he has Motiejunas wide open in the corner and Parsons on the wing, but scores right over a triple team. In the next, he has Harden and Parsons wide open in each corner but has already slipped behind the defense. On the third, he has Parsons wide open in the corner, but scores an and-1. In each case, the defense is defeated from multiple angles. Checkmate.Know Thine EnemyThe Los Angeles Times is comparing the Lakers to each team in the Western Conference, and on Sunday, they got around to the Rockets. James Harden gets the highest praise you can get from L.A.:

James Harden is among the best shooting guards in the league. If there’s any team that can come close to rivaling a healthy Kobe Bryant, it’s the Rockets.

That’s a really clever way of avoiding saying outright that James Harden will probably be better than Bryant next year because of the achilles injury.

On Howard:

The Lakers know Howard well, flaws and all. He’s one of the most dominant defensive centers in the league with a limited offensive repertoire.

The comparison predicts 50-58 wins for Houston after noting that if Bryant isn’t healthy, the Lakers “don’t come close.”

Tweet That – The Rockets will be playing two exhibition games in the Philippines this week, which gave Daryl Morey the chance to drop some knowledge.

 


It’s really just a matter of time until the Bruno Mars of hoops takes the NBA by storm.

Cultural Barometer – I live in the Upstate of region of South Carolina, which has one of the least NBA-centric cultures of any part of the country. College football is everything. However, living here is like having a clean dipstick with which to measure the cultural relevance of NBA athletes. In order for a player to be exposed here, a player has to have built up the highest level  of marketability. If you walk in to a sporting goods store, the jersey selection will not extend past Kobe, LeBron, Rose, Melo, Durant, Garnett (who grew up here), Griffin and maybe Rondo (because of the powerful Celtic fan base on the east coast). No Duncan, No Dirk, no Westbrook, no Kyrie. D12 and Harden don’t make the cut.

So imagine my shock when I walked into Best Buy this weekend and was greeted by a familiar bearded face on a Skullcandy display. Here was a national brand betting on the cachet of a Rockets player to sell goods in markets where the team doesn’t have a fan base. Here was relevance.

The Rockets are no longer just the source of wonky fascination for sabermetrics junkies. James Harden has accomplished what many players have not done despite multiple All-star appearances and even championships; he has made himself and the team a part of the culture.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.