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@  majik19 : (13 October 2015 - 09:09 PM) Apparently we claimed Arsalan Kazemi off waivers from the Hawks today... yet another undersized (6'7") power forward for Morey's cupboard.
@  Mario Peña : (10 October 2015 - 01:12 PM) If your part if the Red94 Fantasy Basketball League check the thread to vote for the date and time for the draft event. Thanks y'all!
@  jorgeaam : (07 October 2015 - 08:47 PM) Guys we need 1 more owner for the Red94 fantasy league, if interested please comment on the post in the fantasy basketball thread
@  slick shoes : (07 October 2015 - 06:50 PM) Kobe ranked one spot higher than Ariza? Is this based on legacy or...??
@  slick shoes : (07 October 2015 - 04:13 PM) It was hard to keep up with both the Astros and Rockets at the same time. Should be interesting on Thursday with the Texans and Astros on simultaneously.
@  Mario Peña : (07 October 2015 - 04:09 PM) It was fun to have the Rockets on last night! Right now I'm watching the Celtics versus Milan and Alessandro Gentile is impressive.
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 07:47 PM) Well, thinking twice about it, I'd rather have him score less and have the team as a whole do better. Lawson should take a lot of his load off
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 07:47 PM) Loving that, hope he hits 30 PPG this year
@  thejohnnygold : (06 October 2015 - 06:15 PM) Someone is feeling confident :) : LINK
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 05:54 PM) 10 Teams done, will need 2 more
@  Mario Peña : (06 October 2015 - 02:35 PM) Alright guys, if anyone is interested in joining the Red94 fantasy basketball league we could use one more player to get us to 10 teams (or three to get us to 12 teams). Just check the thread in the Fantasy Basketball forum. Thanks!
@  thejohnnygold : (05 October 2015 - 06:23 PM) I use leaguepass here in Austin with no problems...
@  skip 2 my lou : (05 October 2015 - 03:14 PM) Hey fellas, I'm a rocket fan but I live in the heart of Dallas. Does anybody know if I buy NBA Leaguepass if it's too close to be subject to blackouts?
@  Losthief : (02 October 2015 - 02:24 AM) tks jg
@  thejohnnygold : (29 September 2015 - 05:16 AM) FYI, it was media day today. Interviews are up at NBA.com
@  slick shoes : (23 September 2015 - 06:37 PM) kind of late in the day but NBATV is broadcasting classis Rockets games all day today.
@  SadLakerFan : (16 September 2015 - 04:37 AM) Man, as a Laker fan, I'm learning how little you care about the off season when your team sucks. Anyway, a quick moment to remember Moses. Still remember watching the 81 team as a kid - losing record, NBA Finals. I would have cried w/joy if they could have beaten the Celtics.
@  jorgeaam : (15 September 2015 - 08:30 PM) http://bleacherrepor...ist-after-crash
@  jorgeaam : (15 September 2015 - 08:30 PM) So to celebrate his new contract, Montrezl Harrell saved someone's life on monday
@  thejohnnygold : (14 September 2015 - 04:36 PM) A good article from Blinebury talking about when Hakeem and Moses used to play in the park. LINK

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Houston Rockets 115, Denver Nuggets 111: James Harden and MVP chants in Denver.


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#1 Red94

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    Posted 18 December 2014 - 12:22 PM

    New post: Houston Rockets 115, Denver Nuggets 111: James Harden and MVP chants in Denver.
    By: Paul McGuire

    Dwight Howard may be back, but the injury bug is far from gone.

     

    The Rockets are working to make sure Howard’s knee stays healthy, but with Motiejunas’s emergence, Houston’s big man depth is acceptable. However, Isaiah Canaan played just 7 minutes (and I don’t remember him being on the court at all), Papanikolaou is still out, Jason Terry missed tonight’s game to attend to the birth of his child, Francisco Garcia is injured and has one foot in the grave, and Nick Johnson is not ready for the NBA. Houston’s wing and point guard depth has still not improved.

     

    No matter. James Harden may be playing for too minutes in this league, but he is good enough. He may still get caught ball watching from time to time like he did on Arron Affalo’s game-tying 3-pointer, but 41 points and 10 assists make up for that. I can certainly understand why someone might take Stephen Curry ahead of him in the MVP race, but I remain confused about how some have placed Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, or Anthony Davis ahead of him. But tonight, even Denver’s Pepsi Center rang with the chants of Rocket fans yelling “M-V-P” for a time.

     

    The Nuggets may have more depth than the Rockets (they played 9 players for more than 10 minutes compared to 7 for Houston), but they depended on Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler almost as badly as Houston depends on Harden and Howard. Lawson did not just create shots through assists, but spurred the Nuggets to use a motion offense which confused Houston’s defense for most of the game. Denver took the lead early in the first quarter and led by as much as 54-38 in the second quarter.

     

    The Rockets steadily climbed back into the game thanks to Harden’s ability to draw fouls as well as enough buckets from Howard, Motiejunas, and everyone else. They took advantage of how Denver stopped moving the ball whenever Lawson sat, and entered the fourth quarter down by just 3 points. Houston would take the lead late, but Denver went on a 9-1 run during the final 4 minutes to lead 96-93 with just 1:23 left in the game. Houston would then score six straight points behind Harden and Howard, and led 99-96 with 4.2 seconds left.

     

    Unfortunately, Harden fell back into his old habit of watching the ball and not his man. It was not totally indefensible – Affalo cleverly took a few steps closer to the top of the key without Harden noticing, and Lawson burst up the court faster than expected. As a result, Affalo got a shot which could have been better contested, and the Nuggets tied the game at the buzzer. Houston would go on to win the overtime, but this serves as a reminder that as much as Harden has improved on defense, he still has more work to do – that is, if his defense can continue to improve given how much of the offensive burden he carries.

     

    A note of praise to Howard for having a good night shooting from the foul line. Howard went 9-14 from the line tonight, and hit both free throws when he earned the ball in the final minute of regulation play. ESPN showed that Howard hit 8 out of 10 free throws in the warm ups before the game, but there is a huge difference from hitting shots there and hitting them in the game. I have seen none other than Chuck Hayes hit three point shots accurately during warm ups back in his Rocket days.

     

    Well, the Rockets have just won their third overtime game of the season. After securing their first victory at Denver in nearly three years, they now move to take on the New Orleans Pelicans tomorrow night – a team which just got Anthony Davis back last game. Canaan’s status is doubtful given his limited play and Jason Terry may still be with his wife, so there may be no cavalry to arrive and freshen up this depleted squad.

     

    Injuries suck.


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    #2 NorEastern

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      Posted 18 December 2014 - 12:57 PM

      You pretty much nailed that game recap didn't you? Feast on the weak and play above 0.500 against the strong. The recipe for winning 60+ games. But a brutal B2B coming up tonight against NOP. Hopefully the Rockets start going more to D-Mo in the post. It will be interesting to see him against Davis. That is what I will be watching tonight.

       

      And why is the NOP defense so bad? With Asik and Davis they should be one of the top 10 defensive teams in the NBA. I am mystified. My only conclusion is that the team is ill constructed on the wings. Or the coaching staff is just missing the point.

       

      Even I, as D-Mo's #1 fan did not see this coming. Everyone knew he had this in him, but no one expected it to just blossom like it has. D-Mo is 6-11 from beyond the arc these last three games. Go figure.

       

      Canaan looked jut lost out there. Hopefully he returns to form. Johnson should be in the D-League learning to play. But he is by no means bad.


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      #3 Alituro

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        Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:18 PM

        My how times have changed. I'm no longer afraid of watching the end of close games. We've definitely turned the corner with our clutch play.

         

        One thing I am confused about though, is why, in the closing minutes of regulation, with a slight edge, did we decide to try a steady diet of Howard post ups? They resulted in predictably missed shots from an exhausted guy who is a notoriously bad shooter and free throws that stood about a 50% chance of going in. I know a solid, expected return of 1 pt per possession average isn't bad for most of the game, and you can count on that return from Dwight, at least and consistently, but in this situation I would think you would search out a higher return. Such as Dmo in the post, especially since he was feasting on Faried pretty much all night and Dwight had the attention of their biggest bigs. I think the expected return from Dmo in a post-up situation is better, he's a better shot, free throw(er) and passer. It was evidenced early in OT as he sunk a couple nice hooks to give us an edge that Harden was able to hold onto. All of Dwight's entry passes at the end of regulation came from Harden. Was that the plan or was he just being bullish about it? From an analytic standpoint, it's hard to imagine that it was the plan. But what do I know?


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        #4 NorEastern

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          Posted 18 December 2014 - 03:53 PM

          My how times have changed. I'm no longer afraid of watching the end of close games. We've definitely turned the corner with our clutch play.

           

          One thing I am confused about though, is why, in the closing minutes of regulation, with a slight edge, did we decide to try a steady diet of Howard post ups? They resulted in predictably missed shots from an exhausted guy who is a notoriously bad shooter and free throws that stood about a 50% chance of going in. I know a solid, expected return of 1 pt per possession average isn't bad for most of the game, and you can count on that return from Dwight, at least and consistently, but in this situation I would think you would search out a higher return. Such as Dmo in the post, especially since he was feasting on Faried pretty much all night and Dwight had the attention of their biggest bigs. I think the expected return from Dmo in a post-up situation is better, he's a better shot, free throw(er) and passer. It was evidenced early in OT as he sunk a couple nice hooks to give us an edge that Harden was able to hold onto. All of Dwight's entry passes at the end of regulation came from Harden. Was that the plan or was he just being bullish about it? From an analytic standpoint, it's hard to imagine that it was the plan. But what do I know?

          You know just as much as I do. Not much. My guess is that the players and coaching staff are still trying to work the bugs out of a D-Mo - Howard front court. Howard is deadly on the weak side and on the P&R. D-Mo may yet become the stretch four that everyone imagined. But his post game is phenomenal. Those two seem like the perfect fit. And that is not even considering defense.


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          #5 Alituro

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            Posted 18 December 2014 - 04:18 PM

            You know just as much as I do. Not much. My guess is that the players and coaching staff are still trying to work the bugs out of a D-Mo - Howard front court. Howard is deadly on the weak side and on the P&R. D-Mo may yet become the stretch four that everyone imagined. But his post game is phenomenal. Those two seem like the perfect fit. And that is not even considering defense.

            Yeah, I don't know, they may have been trying to draw doubles to get others open, that didn't pan out. They've both been great on both ends. I'm totally falling in love with Dmo's hook shots though. A 10 minute compilation of them this season would be something I'd definitely watch on youtube. It's an old-school shot that has always been hard to defend, but even harder to hit with consistency. With increased athleticism and love for fadeaway jumpers, it has fallen by the wayside among the bigs of today as a preferred shot. I know Duncan uses them frequently in his arsenal. Is there anyone else in the league who is comparable in volume and accuracy with the hook shots? If Scola was the Ice Cream Man with his scoops, then Dmo definitely deserves the moniker: Cap'n Hook!


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            #6 DenverRocket

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              Posted 18 December 2014 - 05:19 PM

              Good recap. Few thoughts from my first "live" game this season:

               

              1) Harden really is leading this team and most defintiely deserves strong consideration for MVP. Watching him when the buzzer beater went in, I knew we were going to win in O/T. He was pissed with himself for missing that last FT (and possibly for allowing Afflalo enough of a look). His general demeanor in the huddle/timeouts etc.. was really impressive to see. Even when we were down big, I was looking at the scoreboard thinking no way can they maintain the 3 point %, and Harden will make take control at the end. Every time he got the ball there was an audible groan from the Nuggets fans around me :-). That go-ahead 3-pointer at the end of regulation was a thing of beauty!

               

              2) Loving the Dwight/D-Mo combo. It really gives us different options and more flexibility. I defintiely felt that the offensive game plan was for them to wear down the Denver bigs and make room for James down the stretch.

               

              3) Dwight F/T shooting tonight :D Nuggets fans were calling for their team to foul him down the stretch, convinced he would miss. Oh how wrong they were :P Also, I enjoyed his non-playing antics (not sure if TV cameras caught it, but he was involved in a few friendly skirmishes with the Nugs mascot Rocky early in the 2nd half). I can see how people might take this as a sign of lack of focus or whatever, but honestly, that's just Dwight: it's fun/entertaining, but as soon as the ball is back in play he is switched on.

               

              4) Very impressed with Bev. Great defense and clutch F/T shooting at the end.

               

              5) Canaan and Johnson struggled. I guess Canaan may be a bit rusty after his lay-off. Johnson provides the effort but really needs more time. After one play (where he missed a fairly easy lay-up) he was visibly blowing. I guess if we had full depth on the bench, he wouldn't be playing, so this can only be good for his development.

               

              Finally, loved the large and vocal Rockets contingent in the arena last night. I was surprised (the previous 2 season I could count on one hand the # of Rockets jerseys in the Pepsi Center). I guess with the Nugs relative lack of success/an all-star this season, their ticket sales are suffering, but I didn't expect to see the "away" fans outsinging the home fans at an American sporting event (I'm used to very vocal away support from soccer games back home in England). It may have been hard to hear on TV, given the similar pronunciation of Nuggets & Rockets, but many of the "Let's go xxx" chants, Rockets were audibly louder. Awesome!


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              #7 thejohnnygold

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              Posted 18 December 2014 - 06:17 PM

              I'm not too happy with the knock on Harden's defense.  While he acknowledges that it was a bad play on his part, there is more to it than simply, "Oh, that's just James being James".  First, listen to his post game interview (the one on court, not in the locker room.  LINK)  He was expecting Beverley to foul (because that would have been a smart play) which is part of why he was "ball-watching"....the ball should not have made it to Afflalo.

               

              Next, as you can see in the video below, it happened fast.

               

               

              Combine what he said in the interview above with the fact that Beverley and Howard were up near that part of the 3 pt. line already, Afflalo was feinting as if he was floating to the corner and Harden was reading that (as he should have), and then Afflalo bursts towards Howard and Bev, gets the ball and hoists the shot all at once.  Harden actually recognized pretty quickly and reacted fairly well all things considered.

               

              Seriously, go through frame by frame.  From the time Afflalo breaks for the ball at 2.0 seconds remaining, gets the ball, and releases only 1.6 seconds tick off the game clock.  It was a really good play by Afflalo to recognize that Harden was covering towards the corner three (as he should and since he expected a foul from Bev was comfortable doing exactly as he did).  Repeat: that was more about Afflalo making a great play and much less about any failure by Harden.

               

              Go back again, check out where the ball is at 2.7 seconds left and then think, "Wow.  In 2.3 seconds, Afflalo is going to have already caught and released the ball."  That is fast and one misstep (created by Afflalo's nice play) can take you out of the play.

               

              Even funnier (since I find it funny to read Rockets' fans supporting the Harden Narrative) is that never is there a mention of when Trevor Ariza completely loses his man and lets him drain a wide open shot (as happened last night).  Howard gets no credit for not sliding over more.  Bev gets no credit for not fouling Lawson when he had the chance.  Whatever, see things how you like.  Apparently, it's all James' fault Afflalo hit that shot.  Of course it is....I remember when it was all Parsons' fault last Spring....

               

              Personally, I like that James took credit for the bad play.  For all those who think he lacks leadership, well, I beg to differ.

               

              Moving on.  I liked Nick Johnson's play.  Yes, he doesn't seem to have any concept of spatial relations when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop when he gets a chance for a lay-up.  We could focus on that, or we could focus on the fact that he got to the rim with ease 3 times and once more (a little less gracefully, but cleaned up by Dwight) after that.  His defense was, and has been, impressive.  He stays engaged, makes heady plays, and will figure out how to finish at the rim.

               

              Many have called for his quick return to the D-League--which would be fine.  I see lots of positives and am not worried one bit about what he is lacking.  The shooting will come--everything else is pretty much there already.  I like Canaan, but he has got some serious competition nipping at his heels.

               

              I loved how we opened the overtime going to D-Mo in the post.  It both recognized their big men's foul trouble and D-Mo's ability to be a reliable option on offense for us.

               

              I also liked Dwight's post passing.  He made a couple of nice dishes.

               

              Despite everything ugly that happened in that game it was fun to watch and ended up being a great win for us.  If we were in the Eastern Conference, we'd be in first place.  As it is, we are 2 games back in the West and that's after playing half the season with one arm tied behind our backs.


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              #8 DenverRocket

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                Posted 18 December 2014 - 06:48 PM

                I'm not too happy with the knock on Harden's defense.  While he acknowledges that it was a bad play on his part, there is more to it than simply, "Oh, that's just James being James".  First, listen to his post game interview (the one on court, not in the locker room.  LINK)  He was expecting Beverley to foul (because that would have been a smart play) which is part of why he was "ball-watching"....the ball should not have made it to Afflalo.

                 

                Next, as you can see in the video below, it happened fast.

                 

                 

                Combine what he said in the interview above with the fact that Beverley and Howard were up near that part of the 3 pt. line already, Afflalo was feinting as if he was floating to the corner and Harden was reading that (as he should have), and then Afflalo bursts towards Howard and Bev, gets the ball and hoists the shot all at once.  Harden actually recognized pretty quickly and reacted fairly well all things considered.

                 

                Seriously, go through frame by frame.  From the time Afflalo breaks for the ball at 2.0 seconds remaining, gets the ball, and releases only 1.6 seconds tick off the game clock.  It was a really good play by Afflalo to recognize that Harden was covering towards the corner three (as he should and since he expected a foul from Bev was comfortable doing exactly as he did).  Repeat: that was more about Afflalo making a great play and much less about any failure by Harden.

                 

                Go back again, check out where the ball is at 2.7 seconds left and then think, "Wow.  In 2.3 seconds, Afflalo is going to have already caught and released the ball."  That is fast and one misstep (created by Afflalo's nice play) can take you out of the play.

                 

                Even funnier (since I find it funny to read Rockets' fans supporting the Harden Narrative) is that never is there a mention of when Trevor Ariza completely loses his man and lets him drain a wide open shot (as happened last night).  Howard gets no credit for not sliding over more.  Bev gets no credit for not fouling Lawson when he had the chance.  Whatever, see things how you like.  Apparently, it's all James' fault Afflalo hit that shot.  Of course it is....I remember when it was all Parsons' fault last Spring....

                 

                Personally, I like that James took credit for the bad play.  For all those who think he lacks leadership, well, I beg to differ.

                 

                Moving on.  I liked Nick Johnson's play.  Yes, he doesn't seem to have any concept of spatial relations when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop when he gets a chance for a lay-up.  We could focus on that, or we could focus on the fact that he got to the rim with ease 3 times and once more (a little less gracefully, but cleaned up by Dwight) after that.  His defense was, and has been, impressive.  He stays engaged, makes heady plays, and will figure out how to finish at the rim.

                 

                Many have called for his quick return to the D-League--which would be fine.  I see lots of positives and am not worried one bit about what he is lacking.  The shooting will come--everything else is pretty much there already.  I like Canaan, but he has got some serious competition nipping at his heels.

                 

                I loved how we opened the overtime going to D-Mo in the post.  It both recognized their big men's foul trouble and D-Mo's ability to be a reliable option on offense for us.

                 

                I also liked Dwight's post passing.  He made a couple of nice dishes.

                 

                Despite everything ugly that happened in that game it was fun to watch and ended up being a great win for us.  If we were in the Eastern Conference, we'd be in first place.  As it is, we are 2 games back in the West and that's after playing half the season with one arm tied behind our backs.

                 

                Agree wholeheartedly JG. In real time it didn't look like it was bad defence at all, like you say it happenend so fast. I was following the ball carrier Lawson as he sprinted up court, as he dished the ball, Afflalo literally caught and shot in one motion, all I saw was a defensive hand wave across trying to block (the basket/stanchion blocked my view). I was literally in a direct line, him > basket > me and as soon as it left his hand I knew it was in. Great play, simple as that.

                 

                Like I said it was James reaction immediately after that, that told me we weren't going to lose this one in O/T.

                 

                The interview merely confirms his leadership. No blame laying. The team comes first. Love it!


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                #9 NorEastern

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                  Posted 18 December 2014 - 10:10 PM

                  Agree wholeheartedly JG. In real time it didn't look like it was bad defence at all, like you say it happenend so fast. I was following the ball carrier Lawson as he sprinted up court, as he dished the ball, Afflalo literally caught and shot in one motion, all I saw was a defensive hand wave across trying to block (the basket/stanchion blocked my view). I was literally in a direct line, him > basket > me and as soon as it left his hand I knew it was in. Great play, simple as that.

                   

                  Like I said it was James reaction immediately after that, that told me we weren't going to lose this one in O/T.

                   

                  The interview merely confirms his leadership. No blame laying. The team comes first. Love it!

                  Great players (and great coaches) accept all of the blame and spread the successes around. Harden is manning up because he views the Rockets as his team. I cannot even imagine how dangerous OKC would be if they had kept Harden. They would probably be working on a dynasty.


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                  #10 thenit

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                    Posted 18 December 2014 - 10:48 PM

                    I don't think people were wrong on lack of leadership of harden the past two years. But he has embraced it and I think the USMNT camp helped him evolve faster. He is taking it upon himself to lead by example. His D is not great but its vastly better than last year because he is actually trying.

                    The past years I haven't seen a player in the present that could lead our team the whole way, but today I do see one and we have an excellent shot.


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                    #11 clydesmoustache

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                      Posted 18 December 2014 - 10:51 PM

                      My how times have changed. I'm no longer afraid of watching the end of close games. We've definitely turned the corner with our clutch play.


                      I was thinking the same. Can we call ourselves clutch city again?
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                      #12 Steven

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                        Posted 18 December 2014 - 11:04 PM

                        I was thinking the same. Can we call ourselves clutch city again?

                        Not until they bring home a ring.
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