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Game 74 Preview: Houston Rockets vs. New Jersey Nets

Well, that hurt. There was a time in the fourth quarter of the Miami game where we were just down a couple and San Antonio was up six or so over Memphis. Being down a measly half a game was within reach, and if we had gotten that with nine games to go and our momentum carrying us, I would have started heading down I-10 to San Antonio for game 1 in my head.

But it never goes as planned, does it? Obviously, the Rockets lost and the Grizzlies came back and won. The Spurs don't care about us, and it shows. Now, 2.5 games back and gasping for air, we have to go 8-1 or maybe 7-2 to get in. That's a tall order.

We'll have two types of people converging today. One group will say, "I still believe in this team. These guys are great and have so much heart that they'll never give up." And they're right, the Rockets will keep playing until they're eliminated. Only then will we probably see the end of the bench get legitimate time.

The others will say, "It's over now. Pack it up. Let's see what we've got, and regroup for next season." Mike sums up that opinion pretty well here.

I'm still leaning towards the former, but not as much as I was before the Miami game. Memphis schedule suddenly looks like a cakewalk and the Hornets refuse to go away and die like I thought they would at the beginning of the season, and that's a credit to both clubs getting through rough times and still playing like teams that deserve to be in the playoffs.

Now, all the Rockets can do, as the adage goes, is take each game one at a time. Today, we're alive. Tomorrow, we might not be.

Tonight, the Rockets take on Drazen Petrovic's old team. Seriously, just watch "Once Brothers" already!

Game starts at 6:00 CST.


PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Jordan Farmar:

No Deron Williams so the Rockets get a break. I've always like Farmar, but is there a point guard besides Derrick Rose playing better than Kyle Lowry right now? I'm trying to be impartial, but any way you look at it, dude has been amazing recently.

Advantage: Rockets

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Anthony Morrow:

Morrow is shooting 42% from downtown. Other than that, he's not much of a threat to the Rockets tonight.

Kevin has to find his inner Calvin again. He's been missing too many shots. He's gotta learn a new skill, like cursive.


Advantage: Rockets

SF: Chase Budinger vs. Sasha Vujacic:

White boy vs. Eastern European white boy whom Goran Dragic despises.

I'll take Chase and Goran every time over that tool.

Advantage: Rockets

PF: Luis Scola vs. Kris Humphries:

There are only 8 players in the NBA who average a double-double with points and rebounds. Kris Humphries is one of them. Seriously.

He's been a beast recently, and went for 18/23 against the Cavs on Wednesday. I know it's the Cavs, but it's not like any Rockets grabbed 12 rebounds against the Cavs this season.

Wait, Chuck did? In the first quarter?

Advantage: Even

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Brook Lopez:

Lopez doesn't rebound, a painful fact that my fantasy team has had to endure all season.

For instance, the Nets played Atlanta on Saturday. Lopez played 31 minutes, and registered 6 points, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers. Look, NBA players have off nights. I get that. It's fine, as long as the player is still giving effort on the defensive side of the ball to help the team.

But in those same 31 minutes, Lopez finished with 0 (ZERO!) rebounds and 0 blocks. He didn't register a foul either, so foul trouble is out of the question. I'm baffled. We think a 7-footer like Thabeet is just going to get rebounds and blocks because he's tall and long, but so is Lopez. He's one of the best offensive centers in the league (not saying much, I know) but he may be more of a liability on the defensive end than Luis Scola.

Height does not equal desire. That's all I'm saying. And generally rebounds come down to desire.

Advantage: Rockets



Nets: Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Ben Uzoh, Dan Gadzuric, Stephen Graham, Brandan Wright

Rockets: Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Brad Miller, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill

Advantage: Rockets


Heat: Deron Williams out, Damion James out, Quinton Ross out, Brandan Wright questionable

Rockets: Yao out, Terrence Williams probably out

Prediction: This gets ugly in the second quarter, hopefully. Rockets win by 17.

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