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The Rockets Daily – August 7, 2013

The Schedge – The NBA released the schedule for the 2013-2014 season, and there was much rejoicing. Lets take a look at some of the key dates for the Rockets:

Oct. 30 – Season Opener at home v. Charlotte – “The Wading Pool”

Nov. 7 -  HOU v. L.A. Lakers -  The “Teach-You-How-To-Win” Bowl

Dec. 6 – HOU v. GSW – The Hype Cup

Dec. 18 – HOU v. CHI – “Omer’s Grudge”

Dec. 25 – HOU @ SA – “Christmas with the Cranks”

Dec. 29 – HOU @ OKC – “Good to see you again. Wait. Did you lose weight or something?”

And the Rockets will be featured in a whopping 27 national TV appearances if you count NBA TV. Subtract NBA TV, and they still have 20 appearances on ABC, TNT and ESPN combined. I might have to buy cable now, darn it.

Get Excited – In ESPN’s 5-on-5 on the schedule, Tom Sunnergren of Hoop 76 says he’s looking forward to Houston v. Oklahoma City more than any other game:

On December 29, the suddenly stacked Rockets will travel to Oklahoma City to play a Thunder team that’s both its biggest hurdle to an 2014 NBA Finals berth and the biggest reason why its in a position to contend in the first place. Two loaded teams, four superstar players, and the continuation of one of the weirdest rivalries in sports — I can’t wait.

That’s a kind sentiment coming from a Sixers guy. On that note, any Sixers fans who want to get on the RedNation bandwagon for the next couple of years are welcome. We can’t blame you.

That Was…UnexpectedJeff Caplan at NBA.com listed off his most intriguing games of the coming season, and the Rox-Bobs season opener made the list. But make no mistake, the Rockets carry this picture:

This might be the first time Charlotte has made this list in its existence as the Bobcats, but that’s what happens when you face the summer’s most prized possession in his first game. Howard makes his Houston debut as he teams up with James Harden, Chandler Parsons and the rest of the Rockets, who returned to the playoffs last season and are now expected to contend for the Western Conference crown. It should be a wild atmosphere in Houston, where fan attendance has waned greatly in recent years. This is the start of the rest of Howard’s career as he’s out of excuses after hand-picking the Rockets in free agency over the Lakers, Mavericks, Warriors and Hawks. And, oh, the Bobcats begin yet another new era with first-year coach Steve Clifford.

Two more Houston games make Caplan’s list:

Rockets at Thunder, Dec. 29, Chesapeake Arena, Oklahoma City (6 p.m. ET, League Pass)

Well, this should be interesting. A few years ago it seemed that OKC and Dallas were embarking on a long road as prime rivals. That’s now changed to OKC and Houston, which has the Thunder to thank for its sudden return to prominence. The Rockets acquired James Harden from salary-cap-strapped OKC prior to last season and Harden’s presence greatly assisted Houston signing Howard. Throw in last year’s first-round playoff series, won by Kevin Durant and OKC in six games even with Russell Westbrook injured, and we’ve got the makings for a riveting rivalry led by a pair of young stars on each side.

Spurs at Rockets, April 14, Toyota Center, Houston ( 7 p.m. ET)

An entire season will have passed, so it will be interesting to see how  Howard and his new team have fared. If all goes well, you can see the plot to this matchup: Are Howard and the Rockets on the cusp of overtaking Duncan and the Spurs? Houston is the team of the future, but it’s to be seen just how quickly it can all come together and if surpassing the perennially contending Spurs, their Southwest Division rival and longtime superior, is fact or just another fantasy.

Tweet That – As Rahat mentioned in his last post, Donatas Motiejunas looks bigger. The big man himself retweeted this picture from a fan a few days ago, and geez…

I don’t know if D-Mo will ever develop into a decent rebounder or interior defender, but don’t let it be said he didn’t put in the work at the gym to be able to bang down low.

Got any sweet links or suggestions? Email them to jeby901@gmail.com.

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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.