Hornets @ Rockets

Published: January 2, 2013

The best two young shooting guards in the league collide.  A foul is called on Jason Smith over on the bench.

I wanted to say Houston is ahead of the curve with its rebuilding project and acquisition of young talent, but then I remembered the Rockets were about a .500 team last year – and they are about a .500 team this year.  So I’ll refrain from overstating the case.  Their team is currently littered with a bunch of solid young players on reasonable contracts and James Harden, who is great and on a reasonable contract for his production.

Harden vs Gordon is the most fascinating matchup.  Both are strong, bulldog shooting guards who can bury the three and get to the line all the time.  Both are ball dominant, but capable of passing.  Harden is a better rebounder, shooter, and more adept at drawing fouls.  Gordon has better defensive chops.  You won’t find a better shooting guard under the age of 28 than either of these two guys, and considering the Divisional ties, this could be a fun matchup to watch for years.

Still, despite the focus on those two players, this is a team game, and the Rockets do some things very well, and some things very badly.  In fact, out of the four factors which that I focus on to write these previews, the Rockets are either very good, or very bad.

Offensively, the Rockets are great shooters(6th in the league) who get to the line freely, drawing the third highest number of free throws around.  They also turn the ball over at the highest rate in the league and rebound barely a quarter(23rd rank) of their missed shots.

Defensively, they boast the second highest defensive rebound rate in the league and allow the lowest number of free throws around.  No freebies, no putbacks.  Conversely, and probably the reason for the low free throw rate, they let you take whatever shot you want, allowing the 4th worst eFG% in the league and force very few turnovers.

In essence, they play sloppy, undisciplined ball en route to being the fastest-paced team in the league, all the while daring you to try and outscore them.

Keys to the Game

  • Please, please, please, please, please . . . please! guard the three point line against this team.  They only shoot the three a little above the league average, but only one team puts up more shots from deep than the Rockets.  The Hornets allow teams to shoot well over their averages from long range.  This could turn into a disaster if the Hornets don’t make an effort to get out on the perimeter.
  • Send periodic traps at Lin and Harden.  Both of those guys will turn the ball over frequently if put into trouble.  The Hornets don’t have superior on-the-ball defenders, so take advantage instead by springing aggressive traps on them with our agile bigs.
  • Don’t use Asik’s man to set the screen on the pick and roll.  Asik is aggressive and a master at defending the pick and roll, with amazing numbers when guarding either the ball-handler or the roll man.  Use the other big and keep the Rockets from utilizing Asik’s best skill.

Enjoy the Game!


  1. Jordan J.

    January 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    It will be interesting to see how Gordon rebounds from his mediocre performance last night. Perhaps he’ll try to outdo Harden to make a statement after missing out on the 2012 Olympic team.

  2. IsThisYourHomeworkLarry

    January 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    So…this isn’t relevant to tonight’s match-up, but I wanted to throw this out there….Vasquez for Derrick Williams? Im sure this has been mentioned before, right?

    • okithor

      January 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      I think Williams would be an upgrade from playing a 12th man out of position at SF ( sorry Lance.) However, why would the T’wolves be interested in another tall PG when they have three better players at the position?

      • IsThisYourHomeworkLarry

        January 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        David Kahn has a history of hoarding PG’s, plus Ricky Rubio hasn’t exactly been a stalwart on the Wolves roster since being drafted. Also, from the Wolves perspective, Grevis seems like a great change of pace guy juxtaposed to their undersized speedy PG’s in Ridnour and Barea. We could also expand the deal to take one of those PG’s in return and give-up Aminu and/or Rivers.

      • xman20002000

        January 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm

        The Timberwolves want to move Williams and he can’t get any minutes.. Vasquez has too good a contract and he is still young… Williams is making $4.8M playing behind Kevin Love at PF and Andrei Krilenko at SF… But who do we give up… Vasquez is making slightly over a mil and he has room to grow… We would have to give up a contract and they are in need of a SG… Smith and Rivers make the money… But who comes off the bench at C…

  3. mojart

    January 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    EG will be sittng out against the rockets…just saying

    • Ray

      January 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Well that didn’t take long now did it? So tired of him and all his bs. Absolutely not worth the money.If he is that fragile he doesn’t need to be playing basketball at all.

      • Josh

        January 3, 2013 at 11:46 pm

        He’s not going back-to-backs.

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