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Tag Archives: Houston Rockets

Game 26 Preview: Rockets at Thunder

Tipoff 8:00PM EST

Previous Game

Key Players:

Luis Scola – 20.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg
Kevin Martin – 22.8 ppg

Key Injuries:

Aaron Brooks – DTD
Nedad Krstic – DTD

The Thunder took the season’s opening match-up against the Rockets, 116-99.  The 2nd time out, the Rockets got some payback, winning 99-98 as Durant missed a potential game winning shot at the buzzer.

How did the Thunder lose their last game, and what do they need to do differently this time out?

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12/15 Daily Links

Game tonight against the Rockets is what I would call a “competency” game.  Show off your reading competency by clicking through theses magnificent links.

What the pros are saying:

What I’m saying:

  • I don’t think the rebounding conundrum is at a crisis point, because we have certainly seen the team excel on the boards in more than a few games.  However, we know that, and the season has born out the fact that, the best way for inferior teams to stay in games is by getting offensive rebounds and increasing the number of chances they have at scoring.  It’s kind of like baseball errors – whenever you give the opposition more chances at scoring than they should, you are steadily increasing the chance that they will score at least one more time than you.  Over the course of a season, that could mean the difference between winning and losing multiple games.The encouraging thing about it all is, the Thunder have demonstrated an ability to solve their outstanding issues so far this year, little by little.  First it was offensive laziness, then it was defensive malaise, then it was lack of assists on baskets, and now it is rebounding.  They’re correcting their mistakes mid-flight.  Hard to do, but encouraging to see them do it without lapsing on the others.
  • The Hoopsworld story is a good one, and if you want to sum it up in one word, I’d offer you the word, “Hungry.”  It also is an interesting challenge, because as a PG, the only way to get better as a PG is by playing games and having an ever-growing encyclopedia of moments and plays that get cataloged in your brain for use whenever it is appropriate.  Steve Nash and Jason Kidd have remained competitive at advanced age because they have over a decade of experiences that they can draw upon to put their team in the best position to win.
  • Since I moved to NJ, I found a barbershop owned and run by a good friend. Whenever I go there, I sit down, he gives me a cut using a straight razor, and we talk about boxing, since he loves the sport and actually trains amateur fighters.  I really have no business feeling as cool as I do during those 20 minutes.

11/29 Daily Links

Big game tonight.  Let’s hope Durant and the gang shake off the Rockets.

What the pros are saying:

Game 17 Results: Missed Opportunity

Final Score: Rockets 99, Thunder 98

Record: 11-6

Stat Leaders:

Points: Westbrook with 23, Kevin Martin with 23

Rebounds: Ibaka with 8, Green with 7

Assists: Westbrook with 10

Behind schedule all weekend, so I haven’t had much time to reconsider last night’s game, especially in light of tonight’s biggie.

Bullet point thoughts:

  • Were the Thunder looking past the Rockets?  It sure seemed that way with the way they sleepwalked through most of the first half.
  • Ibaka once again played a strong game in limited minutes.
  • Westbrook’s jam…tasty.
  • They didn’t do the little things – lost the rebounding battle, and strangly missed a lot of FT’s.
  • Durant – tired.

The biggest difference between Westbrook and Durant right now is that Westbrook has fresh legs and Durant doesn’t.  Unfortunately, this places Westbrook in the best position to be the offensive focus, and not Durant.  This arrangement can carry them at times, but ultimately it is not a long term solution.  Durant needs more rest during games, and I wonder if inserting Maynor into the PG spot and playing Westbrook at the 2, with Green and Harden at the forward spots might help.

Game 17 Preview: Thunder at Houston

Tipoff: 7:00PM EST

Game Preview

Previous results: Thunder 116, Rockets 99

The Thunder are coming off a superb 4th quarter and OT finish against the Pacers (to be sure, after 3 quarters of ineptitude) and are growing in their resilience.  Westbrook is proving capable of carrying the team for long stretches when necessary, but has been still able to recognize when it is time for others to step up.  Tonight continues a long stretch for the Thunder when they’ll be away from home.  This may be a blessing in disguise, since they ar e6-1 away from home and only 5-4 in the confines of their own gym.

The Rockets have continued to struggle this year, currently standing at 4-11.  If you look at their games this year, you can see that they’re competitive in almost all of them, but frequently have come up short.  They aren’t to be taken lightly.

Keys from last game:

Westbrook Checks his Mate

Right on cue, Royce Young touts the mini-exchange between Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry that I had described earlier.

The superb response to Lowry’s theft is heightened in drama by the fact that it was a key moment in the game.  This exchange was Westbrook saying, “Your soul is mine.”  (Perhaps)

h/t Royce Young

Game 11 Results: Business—>Handled

Final Score: Thunder 116, Rockets 99

Record: 7-4

Stat Leaders:

Points:  Scola with 26, Durant with 24

Rebounds: Ibaka with 8, Scola with 8

Assists: Westbrook with 12, Maynor with 5, Durant with 4

Because if you’re a really good team, you should be doing what the Lakers do, and just taking care of business every night. – Bill Simmons, 11/8 podcast

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Game 11 Preview: Houston Rockets at Thunder

Tipoff Time: 8:00PM EST

The Thunder come into this game off of their biggest win of the year thus far.  Conversely, the Rockets are looking at a season that was once full of promise quickly circling the drain due to a lot of close losses and now recurring injuries.  Houston will be without Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks tonight, which leaves them paper thin (barely three men deep) and lacking in offensive punch.  And on Friday night, the Thunder are traveling to Boston for a rematch.

This type of game sends two signals:

  1. The game itself is a mismatch.
  2. This is a classic trap game.

This game is of the type that does not and should not require herculean effort.  Rather, it is a game where if the coaches prepare the team properly, the Thunder can get a win in an efficient manner and be well-rested for Friday.  This is what the Thunder need to do:

  • Look to their collapse against the Clippers and remember that their defensive rebounding cuts off inferior teams’ chances.
  • Go to the bench early and often to keep fresh legs in and wear out the shallow Rockets bench.
  • Scola will probably be too much to handle for Ibaka, so it would probably be best to get Collison in the game early to defend him.  Scola is a physical player with a deft touch and good passing skills.  These kinds of big men can capitalize on an over-committed defense.  The Thunder must continue their strong inside play.
  • Be patient on offense.  The Rockets’ Kevin Martin can light it up offensively, so it is important to limit the amount of touches he gets, both through good defense and a purposeful offense.

Prediction: Thunder by 9