Game 23 Preview: Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets

The Rockets have played 12 home games this season. They have 12 wins.

The Rockets have played 10 road games this season. They have 10 losses.

Sense a pattern?

Home court is always important, but this year more than normal. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: getting home games early in the season is really important, and probably better than getting a ton of them late in the season.

Also, the Jazz have played 14 games at home and only 6 (SIX!!!) on the road. And they are only a game ahead of the Rockets. Only Oklahoma City and Denver have winning records on the road in the West, and it's no coincidence that those are the two best teams in the West, along with the Clippers, who are squaring off with the Nuggets as I write this.

So it's imperative that the Rockets figure out a way to play well on the road. Right now, it looks like OKC, Denver, and maybe the Clips will have above-.500 records on the road. The scramble for the other teams will be to get to around .500. I firmly believe that at the end of the year we'll know who the best teams in the West are based on their final road records.

Oh, and the Rockets start a six-game road trip after tonight's game. So no time like the present to get started on some road ass-whooping.

Man, no one wants to write a preview apparently. Anyway, as several of you noted, Robert Horry holds the record for most threes in a game for the Rockets with 9. In 1996 we play the Cleveland Cavaliers and he went 9-12 from behind the line, and 9-12 from the field in total. He finished with 27 points. At the time, he was tied for second for the NBA record for most threes in a single game. With the Rockets up by plenty of points late in the game, Sam Cassell brought the ball down the court to take the rest of the time off the clock. Not wanting to rub the result in, he dribbled across the timeline and held the ball.

Horry wanted that record though.

He set up on the right wing and yelled for the ball, and when the bench yelled at Sam to pass the ball, he did. Horry threw up what could have been his tenth three of the night. He drained it. However, it had left his hands a split second too late, and nine was his final tally. A couple of months later, Dennis Scott of the Orlando Magic hit 11 threes in a game, taking him into first and vaulting over Brian Shaw's record of 10 from 1993. Since then, Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant have hit 12 three pointers in a single game.

So tonight's "trivia" will have a definite winner. Here goes: who will lead the Rockets in +/- tonight, and what will the number be. The number is the tiebreaker, since 10 people could pick the right person. If two people pick the same number or are equally far away, I'll give one of you Saturday's preview and one of you Monday's. Cool?

Matchups after the jump:

Matchups:

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Steve Nash:

Lowry looked in control in the second half against the Spurs. At times, he looked really comfortable again. At other times, he looked like the Lowry we've been seeing for the past few weeks. I don't like the latter Lowry as much as the former. Maybe the battery case being sorted out will help him?

Steve Nash is 38 and playing like he's 28. He leads the league in assists and shoots a whopping 55% from the field. Yeah, he's kind of good.

NBA TNT Nash Stoudemire Commercial (via PointNinja)

Also, who's going to keep the official "Steve Nash high five" count with me tonight?

Over/under is set at 34.5.

Advantage: Suns

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Jared Dudley:

Maybe K-Mart should have had his birthday party after the second half instead of at halftime.

Dudley has been killing teams I love since ever since his Boston College team kicked my Raiders out of the NCAA tourney in 2007. So, I'm not a huge fan, but I respect his game. In college he was more of a big man, but as he's transitioned to the NBA he's become a full-fledged wing.

Advantage: Rockets

SF: Chandler Parsons vs. Grant Hill:

Hill is questionable for this game, but I'm leaving him here because I don't know what the plan is otherwise. He injured his knee against the Hornets two nights ago and didn't return after the injury. I think a lot of people admire Hill for all the adversity he's overcome in his career and the longevity he's been able to exhibit.

Meanwhile, we haven't been treated to a tip dunk in a while now.

Advantage: Suns

PF: Luis Scola vs. Channing Frye:

As is the common theme here, Scola should be better than Frye, but with the way Scola is playing no one knows. Over his last two games he's shooting abysmally (27%) and has eight turnovers. Not to mention his defense still doesn't exist.

Frye will probably get more open looks tonight than he's had since...the last time he played the Rockets.

Advantage: Suns

C: Samuel Dalembert vs. Marcin Gortat:

Who leads the Western Conference in field goal percentage? Gortat!

Who's the man who leads the Western Conference in double-doubles? Gortat!

Who's the man the ladies love the most? The Polish Hammer!

No wonder Morey wanted him so badly.

And there's this tidbit, from Randy Hill of FS Arizona:

Instead of having most of his offense generated through the roll portion of ball-screen action with Steve Nash, Gortat has improved his one-on-one firepower in the post. A considerable portion of this upgrade has been traced to his week of offseason study with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston.

DAMMIT HAKEEM! If I didn't owe you most of my childhood joy, I would hate you for helping out so many opposing players. Why do you have to be so nice?

Advantage: Suns

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Bench/Role Players:

Suns: Sebastian Telfair, Shannon Brown, Josh Childress, Markieff Morris, Hakim Warrick, Ronnie Price, Robin Lopez

Rockets: Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill, Courtney Lee

Advantage: Suns

Injuries/Inactives:

Suns: Grant Hill questionable

Rockets: None

Prediction: Suns 110-103

Make sure you get in on TCWHRO (we have to figure out another way to say that)'s fantasy basketball game. Details here. Just make your predictions in the comments, and maybe explain how you came to that conclusion so we have something to talk about.

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