Game On: Hornets @ Rockets

Published: January 14, 2011

Matchup: Hornets(23-16) @ Rockets(17-22)

Off Efficiency: Hornets 102.4(19th), Rockets 106.7(8th)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 99.7(4th), Rockets 107.0(24th)

The Rockets have a remarkable number of high efficiency players, headlined by Kevin Martin and his 1.55 points per shot and low turnover rates.  In fact, almost their entire team is fairly efficient offensively, with the only Aaron Brooks taking more shots than he should considering his production.(1.18 points per shot on a third-most 11 shots per game)  That ability to get good shots and points from almost every position on the team, including the bench, makes them a very difficult team to guard.

Their problems, however, are on the defensive side of the ball.  Their opponents rarely have to take the prime 16-23 foot shots, with Houston forcing the 4th least number of shots from that distance.  Instead, opposing teams are generally not run off the three point line, attempting a high number of threes – or, in the rare case they are forced to put the ball on the floor, penetration isn’t contained and opponents get a high number of pull up shots in the 4-10 foot range.  In other words, their perimeter defense is porous and results in good shots.

The Hornets may be able to take advantage of this if Paul is attacking and Thornton gets minutes, but it’ll be interesting to see which team’s nature asserts itself:  Will the Hornets settle for the mid-range jumpshots they love, ignoring Houston’s weaknesses, or will Houston’s open lanes and three-point shots prove enticing enough to make them modify their shot selection?


Hornets: Marco Belinelli is out.
Rockets: Yao Ming and Brad Miller are out.  Kevin Martin has a “good chance” he’ll play tonight according to the Houston Chronicle.  Chuck Hayes should also return for this game.

Positional Analysis

PG: Kyle Lowry v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Lowry is a bulldog, and plays better defense than any guard on the Rockets, and is moderately efficient in taking smart shots.  I fully expect to see Paul flopping all over tonight as Lowry tries to hump him.  Still, even if the whistles don’t go Paul’s way, Lowry isn’t going to outplay Paul.
SG: Kevon Brotin v Wille Green
Advantage: Rockets
I don’t know who will start here for the Rockets.  Martin may take back his starting spot, otherwise it will be Aaron Brooks.  Willie Green will start, which, in my opinion, makes there no way this position could be an advantage for the Hornets.

SF: Shane Battier v Trevor Ariza
Advantage: Hornets
Shane Battier isn’t the defender Ariza is, since his footspeed has declined dramatically despite his reputation, but he is a little more efficient offensively.  I almost made this even, but Ariza just does a bit more on the court than Battier, who has quietly become pretty inconsistent.

PF: Luis Scola v David West
Advantage: Even
These two have quietly become mirror images of one another.  Neither defend much, both are undersized and have developed an arsenal of fundamental moves to make up their size problems.  West is a little stronger and able to get into the paint, but Scola rebounds a bit better.  It’s also usually fun to watch them go at one another.

C: Jordan Hill v Emeka Okafor
Advantage: Hornets
Hill’s pretty poor, despite some hype coming out of Houston last year.  He’s got a bad rebound rate despite his energy and length, he turns the ball over a LOT, and he’s extremely inefficient(1.15 points per shot) for a big man standing next to the basket.  Okafor should outplay him fairly soundly.

Jared Jeffries, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson vs
Jason Smith, Thornton, Pondexter, Jack
Advantage: Rockets
Hayes and Brooks may join that bench, and if that’s the case, this is a runaway in favor of Houston, which has one of the best benches in the league.  Patrick Patterson has lived up to the hype he developed in the draft as a smart, efficient scorer, and Budinger and Lee do enough to keep the perimeter dangerous.  Oh and Jeffries energy and Hayes rhino-build can cause issues for teams with unathletic interiors(like the Hornets)  Again, I’m just hoping the Hornets second unit can apply defensive pressure and keep the team from digging a huge hole, and that Marcus is on target.

Enjoy the game!

Joe will be on the Daily Dime Chat throughout the game.