Posts Tagged ‘Rockets’

Rockets Could Miss The Pest Of Beverley


VIDEO: Rockets GM Daryl Morley makes a bold prediction

A few weeks ago when the Rockets brought members of their 1994 and 1995 back-to-back championship teams into town for a 20-year reunion, Vernon Maxwell’s chest burst with pride and his eyes lit up with glee at the memories of rattling opponents in head-to-head confrontations.

“Get under their skin, baby,” said Mad Max. “You do that and you got more than half the battle won.”

When the Rockets announced Monday that point guard Patrick Beverley would undergo surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left wrist and be lost for the season, the general reaction around the league was that the Rockets could press on and survive without him. General manager Daryl Morey even went so far as to say in an ESPN radio interview that the Rockets could win the NBA championship without Beverley.

Indeed, as pieces of the starting lineup go, Beverley’s skills as a point guard are the most replaceable. The Rockets will go with the veteran tandem of Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni and by the numbers won’t suffer a drop-off. In fact, entering Monday’s game at Toronto, the Rockets are 9-0 this season with Terry in the starting lineup. The numbers also say Rockets are seven points better per 100 possessions with Beverley off the court and James Harden than they are when the two starters play together.

Beverley, of course, is not the kind of offensive force at his position that many other Western Conference contenders possess — no Stephen Curry or Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard or Tony Parker or Monta Ellis or Mike Conley. Beverley’s numbers are even down from the past two seasons. He’s shooting just 38.3 percent from the field and his PER of 11.4 is the lowest in three NBA seasons.

The Rockets’ offense thrives in the fourth quarter because they put the ball in the hands of the MVP candidate Harden and let him make the decisions and make the plays.

So there are legitimate reasons why the Rockets might not miss an offensive beat without Beverley in the playoffs.

But then there is the defensive end, where Beverley has staked his claim and earned his very place in the NBA. He’s tough, he’s rugged, he’s physical, he’s aggressive to the extreme, maybe even a little dirty. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Not in the playoffs. Not where every slightest edge can make a difference.

Two years ago Beverley’s aggression took Westbrook out of the playoffs. While OKC won the first-round series, it derailed the Thunder’s title hopes. Now in virtually any round and any matchup, the Rockets could face a team — Golden State, Portland, San Antonio — where the point guard is the primary scorer that makes the offense go.

There are times when having an utter nuisance in your lineup can make a difference.

Ask Westbrook. Ask Mad Max.

Getting under their skin is a valuable talent, too, baby.

Morning Shootaround — March 30


VIDEO: Highlights from game played on March 29

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Morey confident Rockets win it all this season | Report: Mullin mulling St. John’s job offer | Lakers’ Davis unhappy about sideline stint | Report: Magic ready to extend Hennigan’s contract

No. 1: Morey confident Rockets win it all this season – The MVP and a NBA title? It could happen this season in Houston. James Harden is working on snagging that Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey insists his team is working on the latter, sounding extremely confident that his bunch, with Dwight Howard back in the mix. Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com has more:

Morey’s team is currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season. In order to reach the NBA Finals, the Rockets will have to overcome several health issues.

Forwards Terrence Jones (lung) and Donatas Motiejunas (lower back pain) have been out recently, and Morey expects them to return before the end of the regular season.

Starting center Dwight Howard has played the past three games under a minutes restriction after missing nearly eight weeks with swelling in his right knee. Howard will not play in Monday’s game at the Toronto Raptors.

Starting point guard Patrick Beverley has a torn ligament in his left wrist and is contemplating surgery. Morey said the team will make a final determination on Beverley’s status on Monday, but if they don’t have him, it won’t deter the team’s goal of trying to win a championship.

“We think we can win the title with or without Beverley,” Morey said on ESPN Radio’s Basketball Insiders show. “Obviously it gets more challenging without Beverley; he’s the key to our ability to guard a lot of these very good point guards in the West.”

Morey said the Golden State Warriors, who own the NBA’s best record and swept the season series against the Rockets this season, should be the favorites to win the title.

“We won’t go in as the favorite,” Morey said. “I think Golden State, deservedly so, gets to be called the favorite. They’ve had a very historic season. I think the Golden State training staff hasn’t been talked about enough this year. That team has been healthy and really that showcased everyone in Golden State. Coach [Steve] Kerr has done a great job. We won’t go in as the favorite. We do feel like we can beat anybody in a seven-game series, and we’re pretty excited to get going with the playoffs.”

*** (more…)

Collapsed Lung Sidelines Rockets’ Jones Indefinitely

The Rockets believe that if they can ever get all of their big men healthy and on the court together, they could make big noise in the rapidly approaching playoffs.

But the latest sound out of Houston is another loud thud with the news that power forward Terrence Jones will be sidelined indefinitely with a collapsed lung. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Jones will be out indefinitely after suffering his latest injury Thursday night against the Nuggets.

Jones had previously missed 43 games this season, 41 of them due to a nerve inflammation that threatened his career. The Rockets have played the last 24 games without star center Dwight Howard, who has been recovering from a painful swelling in his right knee.

“Guys have to step up,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I sure wish Kostas (Papanikolaou, who has been out for 13 games with a sprained ankle) was ready to play, but he’s not ready to play, either. We just have to deal with it and go.

“We’ll play smaller more. That’s the bottom line, but we’ve played small some. Joey’s going to have to be really on point. Joey (Dorsey) is going to have to play and bang against the bigger guys and we’re going to have to get Josh (Smith) play more minutes, of course. And D-Mo (Donatas Motiejunas) is going to have a big load. And James has been good at guarding a lot of post guys down there, very strong. We’ll have to double team more in the post. We’ll have to make it work.”

The Rockets play at home against Phoenix on Saturday before leaving on a five-game road trip to Indiana, New Orleans, Minnesota, Washington and Toronto.

Howard will return with restrictions


VIDEO: The Rockets didn’t fold without Howard

The Dwight Howard watch won’t go on for much longer, according to the man himself.

But while the Rockets center says he’s looking to getting back onto the court soon, it will come with some restrictions. Howard said he won’t play more than 20 to 25 minutes until he plays his way back into game shape after missing the past 23 games with a swelling in his right knee. He also won’t play in back-to-back games.

The Rockets have three sets of back-to-back games left on their schedule, the next coming March 29-30 at Washington and Toronto.

“It sucks being injured and trying to come back from an injury,” Howard told reporters following Wednesday’s team workout. “When people see you they say, ‘Oh he looks good,’ and sometimes they don’t understand the whole process. I’m happy the rehab process is almost over with and I can get back on the floor and join my team.”

Howard took part in his first full practice with his teammates in nearly two months on Monday, but has taken the last two days off for rest and treatment. He said there is no pain in the knee, just achiness.

The goal is to be healthy and fully ready for the playoffs, which begin on the weekend of April 18-19.

“I will be back when I feel I am in the best shape but also my body is healthy enough to play and maintain myself,” Howard said. “I know a lot of people want me to play and I want me to play as badly as anybody but the important thing is to make sure this doesn’t happen again because we want to make a deep push in the playoffs this year and I can’t afford to  miss any playoff games.”

Howard is averaging 16.3 points, 11 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots in 32 games this season, all equaling his lowest numbers in at least nine years, and has not played since Jan. 23.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 193) Featuring Kyle Lowry

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s been a revealing season for Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors. They’ve been one of the best teams in the NBA and yet an afterthought for some, as teams in Atlanta, Cleveland and Chicago — and that’s just in the Eastern Conference — have garnered more and more of the spotlight.

Lowry, of course, is used to being overlooked and underrated. He’s dealt with it his entire career.

And that won’t change just because he earned his first All-Star nod this season and is the catalyst and leader, on and off the floor, for one of the top teams in basketball. In fact, we’re certain that Lowry and the Raptors will have to continue to scrap for anything they get … which exactly the way Lowry likes it.

We dig deep on his journey — past, present and future — on Episode 193 of the Hang Time Podcast … Featuring Kyle Lowry.

We also discuss the hottest topics of the day, including Dwight Howard‘s looming return in Houston, the University of North Carolina math being applied in Braggin’ Rights, our dime store March Madness predictions, the NBA’s version of March Madness, Wednesday’s monster mash between the top of the heap Warriors and Hawks, what happened to Rick Fox‘s beard and LeBron James‘ headband (did they go off to the same remote island?) and so much more.

You get it all on Episode 193 of The Hang Time Podcast … Featuring Kyle Lowry …

 

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Andrew Merriam.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: The Game Time crew talks to Kyle Lowry after his triple double

Howard back in Rockets’ practice


VIDEO: Highlights of the Rockets’ win over the Clippers on Sunday

The Rockets got a much-needed win in the jockeying for playoff position on Sunday when they edged out the Clippers 100-98.

The chances of the Rockets going far once the playoffs begin next month then received another big boost when injured star center Dwight Howard returned Monday to practice with the team for the first time in more than a month.

Pain and swelling in his right knee has forced Howard to miss the last 22 games. He has not played since Jan. 23 at Phoenix. Howard received a bone marrow aspirate injection in early February and the Rockets medical staff said at the time that he would miss six to eight weeks. That timetable is nearly up, though it is not expected that Howard will play Tuesday night against Orlando at home.

“He didn’t have a hard practice today,” coach Kevin McHale said to reporters following the team workout. “He was able to do some things. It was good to see him out there. Now he’s just got to get comfortable.

“At this stage, this is the start of coming back. Up to this point, he hasn’t really been on the floor. Everything he’s done has been strengthening the knee, resting the knee, trying to get the inflammation out of the knee and all that stuff. Now we’ll see how he feels after he does some basketball stuff.”

Howard has missed a total of 34 game this season for a variety of problems, the lion’s share related to the knee. He is averaging 16.3 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Howard has kept a high-profile, high-fashion presence on the Rockets’ bench as he’s been traveling with the team and working out mostly on his own with some 2-on-2 drills.

While they are 22-12 this season without Howard, 14-8 in this most recent absence and have been able to hang onto the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, the Rockets will need his inside presence at both ends of the court in order to make a deep playoff run. McHale says they’ll need Howard’s low block offense to relieve some of the scoring burden from James Harden and also his rim protection on defense.

“He looked good. He practiced a little bit today, so we were happy to have him practice and kinda have him in the mix,” Harden told the Houston Chronicle. “Hopefully he can get a couple more practices under his belt, and hopefully he’ll be ready to go soon.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 192): The Westbrook MVP Debate

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – What would it take for you to put Russell Westbrook at the top of your MVP ballot?

Five, six, seven more triple doubles before the NBA regular season ends?

What more can the one-man band do to convince you that he’s worthy of that No. 1 spot? We debate that very question on Episode 192 of the Hang Time Podcast … The Westbrook MVP Debate.

The mercurial Oklahoma City point guard is playing with a fury we haven’t seen in years (perhaps since Kobe Bryant a few years ago?), a wickedness that is fueling his team while Kevin Durant recovers from injury. He’s had triple doubles in five of his last six games and yet the Thunder are in an absolute dogfight for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference playoff chase.

What if the Thunder fail to make the postseason? Does that change your mind about Westbrook’s whirlwind season? Does that knock him down a notch or two? And could you really see a player on a non-playoff team leapfrogging Stephen Curry, James Harden and LeBron James for MVP?

So many questions. And as usual, we do our best to provide some answers to all of those pertinent questions and plenty more on Episode 192 of The Hang Time Podcast … The Westbrook MVP Debate …

 

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Andrew Merriam.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: The Game Time crew discusses the MVP race

Morning Shootaround — March 7



VIDEO: All the highlights from Friday’s NBA action

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Hawks close the door | Harden strikes back | Parker sparks Spurs | Mavs slide continues | Shaw eyes Magic

No. 1: Hawks clinch series over Cavaliers — Is there anybody left that still thinks the Hawks are not for real? Is there anybody out there that thinks an Eastern Conference finals showdown between Atlanta and Cleveland wouldn’t be a classic showdown? DeMarre Carroll and Kent Bazemore suffocated LeBron James all night long and the Hawks wrapped up the season series over the Cavs 3-1 with a victory that stretched their latest winning streak to six games. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the details:

Carroll and Kent Bazemore harassed and frustrated James much of the night. The two defenders got plenty of weakside help on James. The Cavaliers star even exchanged words with Schroder as his frustration built.

“We just played Hawks defense,” Carroll said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates because they were meeting him at the rim. They were helping me out. Like I said before, I just want to be a gnat. When you are outside in the summer and you just can’t get that gnat away from you, that’s all I wanted to be tonight.”

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer credited the team approach to limiting James.

“It always starts with taking individual pride, but it takes five guys, the whole team, working together and doing everything in unison,” Budenholzer said. “I think at the point of the ball, DeMarre and Kent were very good and the weakside was active and aware, and we were able to try to get out to shooters because he’s such a great passer and he sees the court so well. I think it’s like anything. It takes a group effort. It’s great to be tested and challenged like we were tonight.”

***

No. 2: Harden takes out frustrations on Pistons — Even for a guy who is leading the NBA in scoring and is considered a frontrunner for the Kia MVP award, it was a tough week for James Harden. After he kicked Lebron James, Harden was suspended for one game in Atlanta and then was fouled on what the league office admitted was a missed call in the final seconds of another loss to Memphis. So Harden was ready to bounce back and did it with his third triple-double of the season against the Pistons. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tells how good it felt for The Beard:

“Yeah, it’s all about having fun, especially when … you just lose two in a row, two tough games and you have get a win,” Harden said. “We go out there, have fun, execute and play together.”

There was a good deal of that to go around, from Terrence Jones returning from a first-half scare when he hobbled off with a strained right rip to score 11 of his 17 points in the second half to Joey Dorsey coming off the bench to snare 10 much-needed rebounds. Rookie KJ McDaniels even knocked down a shot for the first time since joining the Rockets, saying, “It felt really good; a big relief.”

Harden especially seemed to need the release. He began the game as if in a mad rush to leave the one-game suspension and last-minute missed call behind him, getting six turnovers and missing a handful of layups in the first half. Once he settled down, however, he seemed to control any part of the game he chose.

By the time Harden found Corey Brewer on a cut for a layup, he had 12 assists for his fourth game in the past five with at least 10, and the Rockets began clearing their bench with a 22-point lead.

“He’s going to find you when you’re open,” said Brewer, who made 7-for-12 shots for his 15 points off the bench. “Everybody is going to (defend) him and leave guys open and he’s making the right pass. We just have to make the right shots because we’re so wide open.”

Harden’s triple-double was his third of the season, the most for a Rockets player since Clyde Drexler had three in the 1996-97 season. Though the Rockets led by as much as 24 and never trailed by more than one point, the Rockets needed Harden to dominate when Pistons big men Andre Drummond (who had 21 rebounds) and Greg Monroe (who had 19 points) took over inside in the second half.

***

No. 3: Parker continues his comeback — The Spurs have been waiting months for Tony Parker to regain his form and provide the kind of offensive spark they’ll need to defend their NBA championship in the playoffs. Lately the shots have started to fall. Then Friday night there was his signature spin move on the fastbreak. Parker isn’t ready to jump the gun and say all of his troubles are in the past just yet. But according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News, it certainly looked like old times in a win over the Nuggets:

His teammates call the signature sequence “circle to the square.”

Tony Parker will be out on the break. He will make a 360-degree spin move to separate from his defender (“the circle”) then lay the ball off the middle of the backboard (“the square”).

His Spurs teammates have been waiting for Parker to break out that geometry lesson for quite some time.

Midway through a tougher-than-expected 120-111 victory over Denver on Friday at the AT&T Center, Parker at last obliged.

After Parker spun past Will Barton en route to his best scoring night in more than two months, guard Danny Green made the declaration Spurs fans have been pining to hear.

“Yep,” Green said, “he’s back.”

There are others in the Spurs’ locker room who would call rumors of Parker’s resurrection premature.

One of them is Parker.

“I don’t want to jinx it,” the 32-year-old point guard said. “Every time I think I’m back, I get something else wrong.”

Still, Parker was a catalyst for the Spurs’ fourth consecutive victory Friday, which equaled their second-longest streak of the season.

He busted out his entire arsenal on his way to 24 points and seven assists — teardrops, rim runs, jumpers, all of it.

***

No. 4: Mavericks out of class against Warriors — They were a couple of weeks late to be part of the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary celebration. But the Mavericks certainly looked like the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” in back-to-back national TV losses at Portland and Golden State. Dirk Nowitzki tells Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News that all teams go through slumps. But seven losses in their last nine games, the playoff picture is starting to look daunting for Dallas:

The Warriors are the best team in the Western Conference for a reason and they showed their strength throughout with a balanced attack and strong defense anchored by Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. The Mavericks were shooting under 35 percent through three quarters, after which they were down 82-64. It didn’t get much better in the fourth.

The Mavericks? They look lost right now and it’s clear they need to regroup.

“I’ve been in this league 17 years,” Nowitzki said. “Even in our great years, the championship year, it’s not all smiles. There were some times we went through some rough stretches. I remember we went 2-7 over one time in the championship year. You just got to stick with it. You never know what can happen in a month or month and a half.

One thing for sure is if we want to make a run at this, we got to get healthy. That’s obvious.”

In their banged-up state, the Mavericks were rolled on back-to-back nights by Portland and Golden State.

“You never want to lose like that twice on national TV,” Nowitzki said. “That’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s not good. I can’t say anything great about these two losses. We got to get some of our mojo back.”

The Warriors now have won six in a row against the Mavericks dating to last season. The last time Golden State had six consecutive wins against the Mavericks was from Dec. 26, 1996 to Dec. 16, 1997.

***

No. 5: Shaw would like to coach Magic — It’s only been a matter of days since Brian Shaw was dumped by the Nuggets. But the veteran who played part of his NBA career in Orlando reportedly would like a chance to resumer his coaching career with the Magic, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:

A person close to Shaw told the Orlando Sentinel that the former Magic guard would “absolutely” be “very interested” if or when the job opens.
Shaw, 48, is coming off a bitter breakup with the Denver Nuggets, fired in just his second season as head coach on Tuesday.

He had replaced venerable George Karl, landing his first opportunity after years as an assistant. But he and the underachieving Nuggets didn’t mesh. They lost 19 of 21 in one stretch this season, and a Denver columnist wrote that players lacked professionalism and essentially quit on Shaw.

Shaw played three seasons with the Magic (1994-95 and 1996-97) before retiring after the 2002-03 season.

He served as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers.

The Magic fired Jacque Vaughn on Feb. 5 after he coached for two-plus seasons. Vaughn’s lead assistant, James Borrego, took over as interim coach.

General Manager Rob Hennigan said that Borrego could be considered a candidate to be hired on a permanent basis.

The Magic are 5-6 under Borrego.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Hassan Whiteside had a conversation with Erik Spoelstra, then a good seat on the bench to watch the Heat in a near-miss against the Wizards…Cavs coach David Blatt isn’t happy that his main man LeBron James has been taking so many hits lately…The Clippers will honor long-time play-by-play man and one of the all-time greats Ralph Lawler on Monday night at Staples Center…Michael Beasley says he’s playing “with desperation” in what he sees as his last NBA chance…Mickey Arison imagines John Lennon singing in Miami at a Heat game.

ICYMI(s) of The Night: A sequence like this illustrates why Paul George is among the best two-way players in the game today …:

VIDEO: Paul George gets the steal and then caps the break with a fancy jam

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 191) Featuring Dennis Schroder

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – League or peer justice, which one is the right answer for James Harden‘s kick below the belt on LeBron James during the Houston Rockets-Cleveland Cavaliers/MVP showdown Sunday.

The enlightened crowd would obviously go with the NBA reaction, which was to suspend Harden for one game (Tuesday night’s Rockets visit to Philips Arena to face the Atlanta Hawks).

Here at the Hang Time Podcast, we don’t always fall on the right side of enlightenment.

We’d have handled it the old-fashioned way, the way they did in a bygone NBA era where players didn’t hesitate to dole out their own brand of justice when someone felt like they were wronged by someone else. That’s probably why we are not in charge of the NBA’s discipline dispersal, among other things.

It’s probably best that we stick to the discussion of these issues. And these days, there is no shortage of outstanding issues where the NBA is concerned. From the injuries in Chicago to Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson to the ongoing MVP race involving Harden, James, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook to vetting the title contenders in both the Eastern and Western conferences to our opinions on Kobe Bryant‘s latest cinematic endeavor, we cover it all on Episode 191 of the Hang Time Podcast … featuring Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder.

We go through all of that and then some on Episode 191 of The Hang Time Podcast … 

 

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Andrew Merriam.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

#atlshawty #nbaallstarnyc

A photo posted by Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) on

Kick Of LeBron Gets Harden Booted

The battle for the 2015 MVP Award was a tooth-and-nail battle that nearly turned into royal rumble when James Harden kicked LeBron James in the crown jewels in Sunday’s 105-103 OT win by the Rockets in Houston.

But the league office kicked back with a one-game suspension for Harden. The NBA’s leading scorer will sit out Tuesday night when his Rockets face the Hawks in Atlanta.

The play occurred with 2:08 left in the third quarter and was originally called a Flagrant 1 foul. It has now been changed to a Flagrant 2 upon league office review. The play can be seen here:

VIDEO: Harden kicks LeBron

James, who missed 8 of 11 free throws, including a pair with 4.2 left that could have won the game, said afterward in the Cavs’ locker room that he expected a penalty on Harden.

“Obviously that’s not a basketball play,” James said. “Obviously, the league will probably take a look at it. I have no idea why he would do that, but two competitors just trying to go at it, and he won this one.”

Harden tried to wave off any suggestion of ill-intent. “Just a reaction,” he said. “They called a flagrant. Next play we moved on. … He’s a very good friend off the court. Obviously it’s a battle and just trying to win a basketball game. Just competition against one of the best players in the world.”

Following the win, the Rockets had a bit of fun at LeBron’s expense on their Twitter feed.