Tonight the Rockets roll into the Verizon Center and play the Washington Wizards in Chinatown. I am taking the recap being the resident District resident of the board. My upset comes from the fact that there was a screw up with my financial aid and I am currently unable to afford a ticket to the game… or to buy food… or to really do much of anything right now (Thanks educational institution!). The Wizards are 1-11 this season and seem to be going through the motions of what basketball is without really understanding that it is a game to be played to win, not just to kill an hour. The Rockets enter on a two game winning streak with a record of 5-7. The Rockets are starting a back to back and have been playing the starters heavy minutes to notch a win here and there. The bench has been faltering but they come in tonight to play a relatively inept Wizards team coached by the hapless Flip Saunders.
The Wizards have seen strong improvement from their center, Javale McGee, but don’t seem to care enough or have a coach that can snap them into line. Word has snuck out that there is dissension all throughout the team best stated as follows: Those with talent tend not to care, those who aren’t talented enough to start are starting because they do care, and the veterans can’t tame the locker room. John Wall is considered the exception but there are questions about his leadership, this being his second season and having no one to help guide the kid since day one it shouldn’t be surprising. It’s shaping up to look like a slam dunk for the team but let’s not forget the last time the Rockets came to the nation’s capital Yao Ming was lost for good.
I can’t break AK’s structure for these because he’s owed deference. Kyle Lowry is averaging an insane (rounded) 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. He has shown the consistent improvement I said last year he needs to show for me to be able to call him legitimate, so congratulations on earning that Kyle, I’m glad my assessment meant that much to you. John Wall averages 13 points, 5 boards, and 7 assists per game. Wall is doing work as a second year player, just like he did as a rookie, but it’s on a team that is spinning the tires. Wall has turnover problems, which Lowry’s turnover numbers have increased but I always say don’t read into that, guys who gun for the assist inevitably turn the ball over because their influx of passes tend to involve more risks.
Kyle is not, however, in his second year in the league and is not coached by the inept Flip Saunders on a roster of a team that is waiting for cap space to clear to get some more of a talent infusion.
Kevin Martin this season has drawn ire and drawn praise, he has been a roller coaster of no foul calls and horrible nights to dropping 28 to help push the team through. He has been the lightning rod of this Rockets roster. He is averaging 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. That doesn’t sound all that fierce having found it actually… Either way, he’ll be stuck on one of the Wizards worst offensive players to help offset that production. His foul calls have withered up like a well in Arizona or like a woman through menopause and it’s hurting his game as a result. Fortunately for Kevin he’s not going to have to go head to head against a titan on the court but he is going to be lined up against a guy who can score in droves. Nick Young posts stats of 15 points, 2 boards, and 1 assist per game. His numbers aren’t too far off from Kevin’s but the big debate has always been efficiency but if the results are going to be the same I sometimes question the production Nick Young would have on a team that spaces the floor like Houston. Nick can go off easily if you don’t guard him and he can fill up a stat sheet. He’s worth keeping an eye on in this game for the simple fact that I don’t think the Rockets have a guy who can guard him reliably (Unless we burn Chandler Parson’s length on the 6’7" Nick Young, and keep in mind I HATE USC athletes).
AK usually gives you guys a comic so I figure I'd do the same because I know this next judgment will garner judgment:
The Rockets start second round pick (but 4th year player) Chandler Parsons. Most noted for having a face that just screams douchebag Chandler has been a surprise this season and a bro on the court. While watching make sure you brofist the screen to let him know you approve because he’s been a breath of fresh air in his rookie season. Then again Chase Budinger had a pretty fierce rookie season too. Chandler averages 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist per game. What stats won’t reflect is that Chandler uses his size to bother scorers, as Kevin Durant discovered. Another thing any stat won’t reflect I the fact that Chandler does a great job getting more players to charge the boards. There is a distinct drop off when he leaves the floor and Jordan Hill isn’t rolling.
The Wizards started Chris Singleton against the Sixers, and I’m thinking he gets the nod again. Singleton was drafted just 4 spots after the Rockets drafted at 18. This board knows by now I was a Kawhi Leonard/Chris Singleton guy during the draft night. Right now he nets 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 0 assists (Again, rounding) for the Wizards. He’s in the line up primarily for defensive purposes but launches the three at a 38% clip, which is enough to pay attention but not enough to focus on. I think he’ll turn out alright as his career progresses so long as the Wizards change their coach.
Houston puts the ever-steady Luis Scola on the floor with a development recently, however. Luis Scola’s production has tapered off after the first quarter. Scola pours in 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. The majority of his damage is coming in the first quarter and the hitch on his game is that his longevity may have become his downfall. Last year’s knee surgery can’t possibly be helping but in the long haul, this summer’s attempt to trade Luis may have been the smartest thing this franchise has attempted in the last two seasons. Scola lines up against Trevor Booker, a converted SF to PF averaging 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist per game. Booker was seen last year as a great player to have around for what he offered but this season, Booker gets the starting nod because Andray Blatche’s shoulder decided it was too cool for his torso. Booker’s play style is more post oriented than Blatche’s "I’ll shoot wherever the Hell I want" play. This one is pretty cut and dry.
Samuel Dalembert starts at the 5 for the Rockets and he has been playing his way back into shape nicely over the last couple of weeks. He’s up to 7 points, 7 rebounds, and .4 assists per game. Funny enough Jordan Hill averages 5 points, 6 boards, and 1 assist per game (inconsistently albeit, but it’s cool to see the averages, if he gets his timing he’ll be good to go). Sammy is coming off just a few days removed from his 21 point 16 rebound performance. Sammy has shown he can handle the younger guys in the league by strapping the locks on Lamarcus Aldridge recently. That being said he’s playing against Javale McGee, a big fella’ who has shown strides in his game amidst a really bad season in the seat of world power.
McGee averages 12 points, 10 rebounds, and a whopping 3 blocks per game. Sammy punches two shots per game but across the board Javale is showing discipline he hasn’t in years prior. He’s cut down on his point center routine and has stopped stat padding and focused more on being an actual player. It’s a nice change for the 3rd year player out of Nevada-Reno.
The Rockets don’t play a deep enough bench and when I look at it, Lewis contributes shooting and spacing, rigid as he may be, Crawford can cram points down your throat, Roger Mason Jr. is a great asset to have kicking around defensively, Kevin Serraphin has been a surprise since he was drafted, and Jan Vesely is so fluid and fun to watch, deserves an improvement to his short minutes. The Rockets don’t play a big enough bench to get the nod for me here.
My prediction is that the Rockets walk out of this one 107-85 winners.
Game tips off at 1PM Central, 2PM Eastern today.
All predictions get posted here so The Chuck Wagon Has Rolled On can keep tabs.