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Rockets Roundup: 12/22/14

A quick and digestible look at the most top-of-mind Rockets news of the past few days.   

Yahoo! Sports. Sources: Rockets looming as strongest suitor to sign Josh Smith.

The Houston Rockets are emerging as the strongest suitor to sign forward Josh Smith, league sources told Yahoo Sports. After the Detroit Pistons made the stunning move of releasing Smith, he’s expected to clear waivers on Wednesday and become an unrestricted free agent. The Pistons owed Smith $26 million on his contract running through the 2016 season. Houston has aggressively pursued Smith for the past two years, failing in the summer of 2013 to agree to a sign-and-trade agreement with Atlanta to acquire him. Before ultimately signing a four-year $56 million deal with Detroit, Smith had been fixated on finding a way to join the Rockets, sources said.

Houston Chronicle. Rockets make it through ‘spirited’ practice after back-to-back losses at Toyota Center.

After two straight losses at the Toyota Center, the Rockets spent a good chunk of Sunday in the gym. They had a long film session then practice and coach Kevin McHale called the team “spirited” after. “We had a really good day of practice today,” McHale said. “Everyone worked hard and we worked on some things that we needed to fix.” The team added two new players to the mix on Sunday. Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved both practiced with the Rockets for the first time since they were traded to Houston on Friday. McHale said that he liked what he saw in the short amount of time.

ESPN.com. NBA Power Rankings Week 8: Blazers, Hawks rise.

#5. Picking our Trimester MVPs this week and James Harden’s case is as good as anyone’s. He’s leading the league in scoring, No. 9 in PER (25.04), tied for No. 3 in minutes per game, generating the occasional compliment about his defense and has Houston at 8-4 in games Dwight Howard has missed.

NBA.com. Power Rankings Week 8: Happy Holidays from the schedule makers.

#8. Houston (19-7) Pace: 97.2 (8), OffRtg: 101.7 (21), DefRtg: 97.7 (2), NetRtg: +4.0 (11)
Even with Dwight Howard back and James Harden continuing to hit clutch threes, the Rockets are struggling to score consistently as turnovers and 3-point shooting are the biggest problems. New addition Corey Brewer, who has a higher turnover rate than any of Houston’s guards and has shot 20 percent from beyond the arc, obviously isn’t the final answer.

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