Game On: Hornets @ Rockets

Published: January 19, 2012

The Hornets look to get back on the winning track and stop Houston’s winning streak in the process

The Hornets head into Houston on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost 11 of their last 12, and are facing a team that has won four straight. If that is not what you call a recipe for success, I don’t what is!! In all seriousness, though, the Hornets have some things to be optimistic about, as Trevor Ariza looked good in his first game back from injury, and the Hornets front line could present Houston with some matchup problems as the game wears on.

When the Hornets have the ball:

Samuel Dalembert has been the key to the Rockets turnaround on both ends of the court, and for the Hornets to have success tonight, they have to get him in foul trouble. Dalembert does a good job changing shots at the rim and has been rebounding like a beast lately. The most effective tactic to take for a player like Dalembert is to attack him directly in the post. He feeds off of getting weak side blocks or helping in the pick and roll. Instead, the Hornets can neutralize him with a player like Kaman, who should be able to take him inside or make him step out of the paint to guard his jumper.

Jarrett Jack has to continue his recent play for the Hornets to have a chance at stealing this game as well. He has been on fire, shooting 60% while averaging nearly 24 points per game in the last three games. With the exception of a three point loss to the Thunder, the Rockets have been unbeatable at home, and it will take that kind of effort once again from the Hornets leading scorer to avoid falling to 3-12.

When the Rockets have the ball:

As I mentioned earlier, Dalembert has been a beast on both ends of the floor during this recent winning streak, as evidenced by his averages of 15 and 12 over this stretch. The majority of his points are coming off of put backs and assisted shots at the rim, meaning Okafor and Kaman will have to do a good job of putting a body on him in the low post. The further out they can push Dalembert, the less effective he will be.

Houston’s offense is still centered around their “Above Average Three” however, as Lowry, Scola, and Martin are the only guys on the team averaging double digits. Martin has started the year off horribly, shooting just 40% from the field, but his numbers are up across the board at home where he is averaging 20 points per game.

The key to stopping the Rockets offense, however, will be stopping Kyle Lowry. Lowry has been brilliant this year, particularly at home where he is averaging 18 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game. He is always going to have the speed to get into the lane, but the Hornets need to take away his three-point shot or this game could get away from them quickly.

News and Notes:

– Ariza played 40 minutes last night, so expect Monty to do the wise thing and ease up on his minutes tonight. After watching Gordon do too much after an injury, I think Monty will be cautious with Ariza.

РVegas Zone: The line opened at Hornets -10.5, but has since moved to -9.5!  Gamblers have faith in the Hornets, we should too damn it! Personally, I think the spread should be lower. Yeah, the Hornets record is awful, but they are competitive in nearly every game and I watched them go into Denver last week and win a game they had no business winning.

– I have played probably 10,000 games of pickup basketball in my life, so few stand out- but one still haunts me. It was in Orlando back in 2007 when Chandler Parsons (who now plays for the Rockets) was just a young pup. We were playing to 16 and my squad was up 15-9, as I was hitting from mid range and I was able to hold Chandler to just 2 points in the early stretch of the game. Fearful that he would hit a couple of threes (count as 2 points in pickup), I just let him drive by me for layups on each possession. I figured that if all they got were 1’s, we would eventually make a shot and win the game. I was wrong. We went ice cold and they beat us 16-15 by making 7 straight shots, 5 of which I gave him just to prevent the 2’s. Makes me sick. Just thought I would share.

– Random thought: I am rooting for the Celtics to get out of their drought, if only to have one more possible trade partner for our big men. The Celtics have three first round picks that they could move and the last thing I want to see is them blow it up and not be in the market for a Kaman or an Okafor. We need as many teams as possible to naively believe that they are contenders so we can get some value for our vets as we continue this rebuild.


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