So, AK needs a break from this because the guy is a workhorse and I'm doing him a favor. Unfortunately, that means you'll be stuck with a sub-par game preview, laden with stuff you don't really care about, and a game you probably won't be that invested in. All the same, this is what you get, because I'm the writer you deserve, not the one you need. So you'll troll me. Because I can take it. Because I'm not your hero. I'm a silent writer. A watchful protector. A blatant Dark Knight panderer.
The Phoenix Suns head into the Toyota Center tonight to square off against the 13-6 Houston Rockets. Houston has won five of its last six and decided to start off December in the Christmas Spirit by giving the Jazz the gift of a win. Interestingly enough, the Suns recently dropped one to the Utah Jazz as well. The Suns sit at 9-9, after a loss to the Grizzlies last night, and are currently 12th in the Western Conference. How's that for useless information almost 20 games into the season? Another fun tidbit, the Suns are running a consistent 8-man rotation on a team that's surprised the league by hovering around .500 (Sometimes even North of it).
Tip off is at 8:00 pm EST, 7:00 pm CST broadcast on FSAZ and CSNH. Posting a stream gets you banned and requesting one gets you a warning. Visit the friendly folk over at Bright Side of the Sun for some friendly banter (FRIENDLY!). Let's go on in and look at the head-to-head.
Patrick Beverley v. Goran Dragic
Beverley averages 9 points, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds a game in about 31 minutes per game. Dragic is averaging 18 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds a game. Dragic is kind of pretty good. Like, good enough that before Jeremy's emergence this season Rockets fans wouldn't shut up about the decision not to re-sign the guy. Goran is lighting it up in Phoenix and it's going widely unnoticed. Just remember, without letting Goran walk we don't land Howard and Harden.
James Harden v. Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe is coming off a sore shin. He's averaging 20 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds a game in about 34 minutes a game. By all indications Bledsoe and Dragic are meshing well which could spell trouble for Houston's frontcourt. James is averaging 25 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds a game in 39 minutes a game. On a per minute basis Bledsoe and Harden are roughly equivalent. Fortunately I don't do this on a per-minute basis and I'm looking towards which guy can put the team on his back.
Chandler Parsons v. P.J. Tucker
Parsons was out against the Jazz but I'm counting him in here because I'm in denial. Parsons puts up 17 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds a game in 37 minutes of action. He's been dealing with back spasms for nearly a month and his clutch dunk late in the Spurs game put him on the floor at midcourt. P.J. Tucker has made his name in the NBA as being the famous person in the quote "Who the Hell is P.J. Tucker?" According to his ESPN Stat page he averages 9 points, 2 assists, and 5 rebounds a game in 31 minutes a game. Wikipedia tells me he was the 35th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft (Toronto). Since then he's traveled the world occasionally playing basketball to pay the rent and playing the lute to pursue his heartsong ambition of finally expressing his love in an adequate fashion to Kat Dennings.
Advantage: Rockets (Even if Cisco starts, I'm sticking with the Rockets here)
Terrence Jones v. Channing Frye
Terrence Jones went from maligned bench warmer and accused hobo-stomper to wonderful complement to Dwight Howard in the span of a few months. He's averaging 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block a game while playing 23 minutes, stretching the floor next to Howard, and posting an 18.4 PER. It's been quite the break-out year for Jones who has left many Rockets fans finally joining in on the "Ryan Anderson who?" crowd. Channing Frye, meanwhile, is attempting to revive his career in Phoenix and becoming a hot commodity on the trade rumor market. Frye is putting up 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block a game. He's doing so in 27 minutes as a stretch power forward with center height. He's a solid power forward and has carved out a relatively stable NBA career out of his shooting.
Dwight Howard v. Miles Plumlee
Howard is a franchise center in the NBA averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. His team likes to ignore him and fling threes for funsies when they should go through him. Miles Plumlee's beard sucks and he averages 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. Pretty solid for a second year center. Compared to Dwight though... No... Just no...
Omer Asik, Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi
Phoenix: Gerald Green, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Ish Smith, Archie Goodwin
The Suns run a tight rotation and with Bledsoe and Dragic at full strength, Ish Smith and Goodwin will see reduced minutes. The Rockets bench could start over most of Phoenix's starters.
Houston desperately needs to bounce back from their previous disappointing showing against a struggling team. Teams that expect to compete for a title don't let games they should win slip through their hands. Tonight needs to be a win where the Rockets dispatch the Suns quickly and cleanly. Given how flat they came out against Utah, the Rockets should have been chewed out and told to start playing like they're big boys. Having said that, Phoenix is allowing 106.5 points a game this season, which should spell disaster against a team like Houston. Phoenix is averaging 107 a game right now on a hot streak. So long as the Rockets don't play too loose and take advantage of porous defensive play, they should win this one handily.
Prediction: Houston 117 - Phoenix 102