First off, thanks to Allen for writing...an interesting preview for the Rockets-Clippers matchup. I'm sure he's off now doing Aggie things like not being cool.
The last time these teams met, the Rockets were coming off a 30-point drubbing at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. The Rockets were on a back-to-back and would be without James Harden and Jeremy Lin. To make matters worse, Patrick Beverley broke him hand in the first half and would be out for a few weeks.
The ingredients were there for a loss. If we're being honest, the ingredients were there for a blowout loss.
Which makes what happened even more impressive.
Dwight Howard wouldn't let Houston lose. Every time Detroit made a run, Howard would just get the ball in the post and work over Andre Drummond on his way to 35 points and 19 rebounds. Chandler Parsons shot 60% from the field and scored 20. Francisco Garcia extricated himself from the cryogenic time-freezer and knocked down four triples.
What catches the eye from that boxscore today is how balanced it was. Every player who saw real court had at least 2 assists. In fact, Aaron Brooks and Omri Casspi each led the team with 7 while coming off the bench. Garcia's line of 16/5/4 looks impossible. Parsons grabbed 7 boards. Howard had 5 assists and 3 blocks. In the 15 minutes before he got injured, Beverley had 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.
That night, the Rockets didn't have a full 48 minutes from Beverley (in terms of availability, not that he should have played 48), didn't have Jeremy Lin, and didn't have James Harden.
The three perimeter players that handle the ball for the Rockets were out for either the whole game or the second half, yet the Rockets strolled into the Palace of Auburn Hills and handed the young Pistons a 114-97 beatdown.
The LOFs took the night off, but the rest of us had to think about the result. Could the Rockets be a better team running solely through Dwight? Should the Rockets take the ball out of Harden's hands more often? Would the role players step up if forced into heavy minutes throughout the season like they did that night?
Or was it a product of playing the Pistons, a team ill-equipped to punish the Rockets for their lack of guards?
Anyway, the Pistons head into Houston tonight just as rested as Houston. The Rockets need a win to bounce back from a disappointing loss, but will the "return" of James Harden and Jeremy Lin be subtraction by addition? Or will the rout be on?
Let us know in the comments.
Tip-off is 7pm CST.