Let’s Make like Patriot Missiles and Intercept some Rockets

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Published: December 26, 2008

Matchup: Rockets(19-10) @ Hornets(16-9)

Off Efficiency: Rockets 105.2(11th), Hornets 105.7(8th)
Def Efficiency: Rockets 101.0(5th), Hornets 102.6(13th)

Today’s a new day, and the Hornets get a chance tonight at redemption.  Earlier this season, they suffered a pummeling at the hands of Houston.  They are now coming off a pair of pummelings that were as bad – or worse, in the case of the Orlando game.  That game was so bad the ESPN anchors were actually mocking the Hornets during their recap.  Ouch.

If they want to be serious contenders, they need to start focusing on the defensive end now, get back to stretching the floor and hitting their threes, and generally start putting in place the pieces for a good run.

The Rockets lost their last game against Cleveland, but in general have been pounding the teams they’ve faced over the previous several games.  Their big three is at full strength, and they have been playing Ron Artest as a sixth man, which is probably his best role so he won’t suck up shots McGrady, Yao Ming and their stellar supporting role players could use much more efficiently.

Oh yeah, and in case you all forgot, We should all hate Rafer Alston.  In case you don’t remember why, it’s because he was talking smack about the Hornets and David West to the point that Chris Paul even took a jab at him in the press, something I’d never seen before. I don’t mind smack, but his showed a complete lack of imagination. Oh, and he’s a semi-skilled coat-tail riding schmuck.

Injuries

Hornets:  Peja and Antonio Daniels are still questionable.  I doubt they will play.
Rockets: McGrady is playing, but is still suffering from lingering injury problems.

Positional Analysis

PG: Rafer Alston v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Alston is the classic streak shooter in the Jannero Pargo mold.  Most games he’ll be 3-11 with a three, rarely he’ll be 8-11 with four threes.  He’s quick and a good ball handler, and is mostly valuable to the Rockets because he knows how to get the ball to McGrady and Yao and go spot up on the wing.  Chris Paul is better than him.

SG: Tracy McGrady v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Rockets
Tracy McGrady continues his descent from the top ranks of the league to an ordinary jump-shooting shooting guard this season.  His scoring is way down, his shooting percentages are poor, and he’s drawing very few fouls as compared to previous years.  Despite all that, I can’t remember a game against the Hornets where he hasn’t had at least two nasty scoring outbursts.  Butler will have his hands full.  Oh, and please, Butler, find your range again.

SF: Shane Battier v Please, Anyone but Devin Brown
Advantage: Rockets
I love Shane Battier.  He rarely makes mistakes, takes good shots, and plays intelligent, energetic defense like his life depends on it.  He had injuries at the start of the year, but recently he’s taken Ron Artest’s starting position – and to be honest I’d take him any day over Artest.  Devin Brown will probably start here, and miss several open threes.  Wright, Peterson, or Posey would make me so much happier.

PF: Luis Scola v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Like all the good Argentinean imports in the league, Scola lays it all on the floor, playing energetic, physical defense, refuses to shy away from contact, and compliments that style with a willingness to flop at any chance he can.  He’ll get West a few times, but in general, West handles him fairly well.

C: Yao Ming v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Rockets
Tyson usually does an okay job on Yao, but the way he’s been playing he’ll probably play twenty minutes and foul out.  If he doesn’t come out and play well, we’re in for a long night again.

Bench
Advantage:
Rockets
The Rocket’s bench isn’t the best in the world, and if we had the services of Antonio Daniels to add to Mo Pete and James Posey, I’d probably call this even.  Artest has been a mess all season, shooting a miserable 37% from the field.  He can still be dangerous from three, firing away at 39%, but in general, he’s not fit in well with this team.  Carl Landry is a solid backup powerforward, and they have a nice undersizes scoring guard in Aaron Brooks who masquerades as their point guard.  Other than those three, however, the rest of their bench isn’t playing so well.  Brent Barry, if he ever gets back all the way from injury, could be dangerous, but that’s about it.

Enjoy the game.

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