I'm not one to talk much about possible trades, so I'm going to ignore the whole Carmelo Anthony thing. This is just a game preview, so I'll be focusing solely on the game itself. A radical idea, I know, but bear with me.
Also, I'm writing this during the Nuggets game against New Orleans. So all info and opinions are from before the conclusion of that game. Update: Nuggets lost to New Orleans last night.
The Nuggets annihilated the Jazz in their first game. That's what the Jazz get for being the Jazz. The Nuggets controlled the game throughout, outscoring the Jazz in all four quarters. Usually when that happens, you win. They shot 44% from the field and limited the the Jazz to 39%. However, what pops out is how often the Nuggets got to the charity stripe. The Nuggets attempted 41 free throws, 21 of which came from Billups and Anthony. The good news for Rockets fans and Kevin Martin fantasy owners is that the Jazz attempted 43 free throws.
What's more: George Karl is back coaching the Nuggets after his bout with cancer. Whether you like him or not, it's good to see one of the better coaches in the NBA back on the bench. Unfortunately, Karl has a history of beating the Rockets, dating back to his days in Seattle.
I don't know how much I want to talk about the Rockets. Definitely check out the first episode of The Dreamcast. Tom and Xiane did a great job and really gave a good State of the Rockets of sorts. Really, go listen to it. Those guys actually have great chemistry chatting up basketball. And their constantly talking. Unlike Jim Rome's radio show, where he finishes a statement, then takes three minutes to say something else.
Lets do this! LEEEERROOOOOYYYY!....
PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Chauncey Billups:
Chauncey is getting old; it's getting more and more noticeable. I won't forget him killing the Lakers in the 2004 Finals, though. Thanks Chauncey.
Aaron is still pretty young. He makes quick decisions that you wish he had been more patient with. In time, he'll learn, but for now hopefully he can learn from a crafty veteran like Billups.
SG: Kevin Martin vs. Arron Afflalo:
What do stars in the NBA do? They carry their teams through rough patches and droughts. Case in point: Kevin Martin against the Warriors. He put the team on his back and got to the free throw line 17 times. No, he didn't go on a tear and hit 8 shots in a row. And he didn't throw down a slam and pump up the team. But he kept us in the game. A high volume shooter easily could have lost us the game in those stretches where Speed Racer was getting to the cup and drawing the harm. If he keeps playing like that, there will be almost no need for Daryl Morey to look for another superstar before the trade deadline.
Afflalo scored 22 against the Jazz and is really coming into his own as a player. Give him time, and he has the potential to be a legitimate third option on a contender. He shot 43% from behind the arc last season, good for eighth in the league.
He's still not Kevin Martin.
SF: Shane Battier vs. Carmelo Anthony:
Finally, a SF for Shane to guard. In his history against the Rockets, Carmelo averages 23/7 but shoots at only 41% and needs 19 shots to get there. Shane will need to keep Melo out of the paint and off the free throw line. We know Melo isn't the most efficient of superstars, but he can still ball.
I want the comments to be about the game itself, but I'm sure we'll get a lot of Carmelo comments. Well, here's hoping Shane shuts him down, along with Melo-to-Houston talk (until a later date or fanpost).
PF: Luis Scola vs. Shelden Williams:
Shelden Williams will get the start, but he and Al Harrington have spit the minutes pretty much 50-50 at the PF spot. Williams went 8/16 against the Jazz and Harrington got 10/7. Getting 18/23 from the 4 spot is pretty darn good if you ask me. Scola/Landry was better, but let's not go there.
God, I love Scola. I wish he could play defense better, but he is what he is: a badass.
The Rockets may have 99 problems, but My Friend from Argentina ain't one.
C: Yao Ming vs. Nene:
The Nuggets are hurting in terms of bigs. Both the Birdman and Kenyon Martin are injured, so Nene and Melvin Ely will take turns trying to guard Yao. Ely fouled out in their first game, too.
Yao is going to look rusty. Not only did he just play his first game in 18 months on Tuesday, but since then he hasn't seen any meaningful action. I'll take him playing in front of the pumped up home crowd, however.
I assume Erick Dampier will not be making an appearance tonight. He's going to need a couple of weeks learning the offense and (more importantly) the defense.
Nuggets: Al Harrington, J.R. Smith, Ty Lawson, Melvin Ely
Rockets: Courtney Lee, Chase Buddinger,, (?), Brad Miller, Ish Smith, possibly Kyle Lowry
Advantage: Rockets. I hope to be able to say that 79 more times this season.
Nuggets: Chris Andersen out (knee), Kenyon Martin out (knee)
Rockets: Lowry day-to-day (back spasms)
Prediction: Rockets send Houston into a panic, lose by 15.
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