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Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets on 12/31/13

Hoping to close the year out with a win, the Rockets host Sacramento, owners of the second worst record in the Western Conference.  One of the Kings nine victories came against the Rockets two weeks ago.  In Rudy Gay’s first home game for his new team, the Kings beat the Rockets by 15.  With Houston’s lack of consistency it’s become obvious that there aren’t going to be many easy victories this year.

Adding Gay hasn’t added up to more wins yet for the Kings, as they are three and seven in their last ten games (right at their season % of .310).  Hopefully this game, Parsons can hold Gay to his average shooting percentage of .415. Cousins, Thomas and Gay were the leading scorers in that game and are the teams leaders for the year.

How about the year that Isaiah Thomas is having?  He’s hitting 43% from behind the arc and averaging 19+ points a game.  The Kings point guard stands at 5’9”, which is tied with Nate Robinson for the shortest players in the league this year.  Only 24 players in the history of the NBA have stood at that height or below.  Maybe his height is one of the reasons the Kings sit near the bottom of the league in points allowed.  Though in the last game, the Kings held the Rockets to 91 points.

The battle inside with Cousins was a loss for Howard in their first matchup this year.  Cousins had more energy and power in the paint and Howard had only seven field goal attempts.  Howard has been in foul trouble recently and it has really limited his minutes.  Without Asik, the trouble is compounded for the Rockets, so Howard has to watch his fouls, especially when he is setting screens on top.  The refs are calling the moving screen so closely this year and Howard has been getting burned for an inordinate amount of these fouls.

Thank the basketball gods that the Rockets only have three games in the next eleven days.  The three opponents have a combined record of 31 and 59, and all three games are at home.  Maybe Asik and Smith’s injuries can have time to heal a bit.  Reports are that Smith could return Friday against the Knicks, but there is no timetable yet for Asik’s return.  Maybe the nightmare against OKC can recede from memory some with a win.

Watching the Rockets this year is like watching a pendulum.  For a little while it looks really good (leading the Spurs wire to wire), and then a game like the OKC vanquishes all hope.  The Rockets will get on a win streak against marginal teams, then they will get beat handily by the worst the NBA has to offer.  Even when the Rockets win, often they play so horribly in the first three quarters it’s painful to watch.  I will say they do look like they are getting better about possession by possession basketball at the end of close games.  They are able to tighten up the defense another notch, lower the silly turnovers and score in many different ways, even when they’ve been missing shots the whole game.

The Asik predicament is a constant burn.  Wouldn’t it be great if he would speak to the media and let us know what is going on?  Instead we look toward another trade deadline.  If he doesn’t get traded in February, we’ll keep talking about it through the off season.  How would the Rockets differ if Asik was playing?  Would the pendulum center?  Always hoping to achieve that level of dominance, Rockets fans still fantasize about the future.  We’re slightly closer, ever so slightly closer.

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About the author: Eric Nielsen is the owner of Lotushouse Records, an English major from SDSU, a basketball player and life-long passionate Rockets fan. He’s been following the team since the days of Moses Malone, Rudy T. and Calvin Murphy.

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