Game 82 Preview: Hornets at Rockets

Last game of the season. Do you realize that as soon as this ends, the offseason will start? That's good news if you're a Rockets fan, because we've got the best GM in the league and a lot of movable pieces. Note that I did not say expendable. Also, this will hopefully be the last time the Rockets play without Yao Ming. Think about that. We've played 82 games without our all-world center, and we're still finishing above .500.

The Hornets are a team the Rockets can sympathize with. They lost CP3 once twice three times this season. Though Darren Collison has stepped in admirably and almost mirrored Paul's stats. Outside of Collison, Paul, and David West, this team doesn't really have much going for it. They're paying too much money for James Posey and Peja and this season it really showed.

Remember to check out The Dream Shake's ticket deal for this game. It's your last chance to see these guys. As much as we try to pretend otherwise, the NBA is a business. Chances are, some of these guys won't be back next season. To quote Dan Fouts from The Waterboy, "Last game of the year, Brent. Can't hold anything back now."

Finally, I just want to say that it has been a pleasure writing game previews. There are some really dedicated fans here, and I enjoy hearing your opinions about the Rockets and the other teams in the NBA. You guys make writing these fun, because I can be writing something and be thinking, "Oh, they're going to like this," and then you guys comment on it. Or I can write some throw away comment like, "I don't think Toney Douglas is very good," and get 15 comments telling me I'm wrong. Your comments all year have been helpful and insightful, and I know they've helped me become better at writing these things. I look forward to getting to write previews for some of the teams we didn't face this season since I started writing, like the Mavs and Trail Blazers, to name two. All in all, this has been a wonderful experience, and you guys are some of the best fans in all of sports. Thank you.

I cannot wait for next season!

Matchups:

PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Darren Collison:  

I'll admit: I didn't think Collison would be any good. I thought he would be one of those game-managing point guards who would shoot if he was open. I saw him in the Jason Williams mold.

I was completely wrong.

Yes, he's only averaging 12/6/3, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The Hornets were out of the playoff hunt pretty early this season, and when Chris Paul went down it probably looked pretty bad for the Hornet faithful. Now, I'm too lazy to look up Collison's stats while CP3 has been injured, but I guarantee they're in the double-double area. Case in point, he torched the Rockets for 26/9/4/4 last time. He's running the offense really well and has a brighter future than I ever imagined.

However, he is still a rookie and doesn't have the take-over abilties AB or CP3 have.

Advantage: Rockets

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Marcus Thornton:

Another rookie starting for the Hornets. He's averaging 14/3, which is pretty darn good for a rook. Like Collison, he's logging heavy minutes, especially late in the season with no regard for human life the postseason.
I told you Kevin Martin would get his shot back. Ha!

Advantage: Rockets

SF: Trevor Ariza vs. Morris Peterson: 

Peterson is a good three point shooter, but in his tenth season he has certainly slowed down. He's been hurt by injuries the last couple of years. He played in only 43 games last season and will be playing his 46th game tonight.

Rockets fans can relate.
The T-Mobile Player of the Week has been remarkable these last few weeks. When he stops forcing the issue and allows the game to come to him, he becomes a much better player. Get used to seeing Trevor do less than the beginning of the year. Next year, he's going to be a great piece of this team.

Advantage: Rockets

PF: Luis Scola vs. David West:

West's numbers have been down, but that can be attributed to CP3's injury and Tyson Chandler's departure. Teams don't have to look out for Chandler's alley-oops, and there's no way West has the same rapport with Collison as he does with Paul. West had 24/9 last time, so the Rockets will have to try to stop him from doing that again.

I don't know if I agree with Mike Prada that Luis is definitely the Rockets' MVP this season. I think you could make an arguement for him or AB. I would have copped out and called them co-MVPs.

Advantage: Even

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Emeka Okafor:

Okafor is a matchup nightmare for the Rockets. He's big, tall, strong, and hustles. He's always played the Rockets well, and almost all of his stats prove it. However, we here at TDS like to look beyond the banal stats and take a more advanced look on analysis. So, just from watching him play, you can tell he gives us fits.

Chuck, my boy! One more game man. We appreciate what you've done far more than you know. You've filled some of the biggest shoes in the league admirably. One more, then hopefully you can go back to working on those threes in practice. I promise.

Advantage: Hornets

---

Bench:

Hornets: Julian Wright, James Posey, Darius Songaila, Aaron Gray,

Rockets: You know who...

Advantage: Rockets

Injuries:

Hornets: Peja, CP3, Sean Marks, Ike Diogu

Rockets: Shane, David, and Yao, but not much longer!

Prediction: Rockets finish on a high note, blow out the Hornets by 15.

Hornets vs Rockets coverage

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