I'll make this part short, since Tom kind of took the words out of my mouth in his post yesterday. The next part of this schedule is the best the Rockets are going to see all year. With fewer games, you have to be able to take advantage of everything that David Stern gives you, even if it's on accident.
While I agree with Tom that we can take 3 losses here, I'm going to say we will have 2. But, the margin for error is already gone. This isn't the 3-10 start from last season, but in a shortened season we're getting close. The Rockets started with a tough schedule, no doubt about it.
But winners have to bounce back. More important than winning as many of these games as possible is developing an identity as a ballclub and grabbing some momentum heading into the next difficult stretch of games.
It all starts tonight in Sacramento, which used to be Rockets West, but now they only have two players who were Rockets at one point. Donte Greene and some guy named Charles Edward Hayes, Jr.
Never heard of the guy.
Tip is at 7:00pm CT.
Update: In addition to tonight celebrating the 1970s Rockets All-Decade team, there will be a video tribute for Chuck Hayes. Jason Friedman alerted me via Twitter. Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal, getting Friedman to talk to me. No biggie.
Matchups after the jump.
PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Tyreke Evans:
In reality, the Kings really use three shooting guards in the lineup with Evans, Jimmer, and Salmons.
Evans still isn't a great shooter, but he's been getting to the line 9 times per game in his last four.
Lowry is better, but not by too much. This is where the Rockets will miss Courtney Lee even more than normal.
SG: Kevin Martin vs. Jimmer Fredette:
Jimmer tries to remind me of Adam Morrison too much. Nice try, Jimmer, but I actually liked Morrison in college. Plus, he wasn't from Utah.
We'll change it up a little. One of my professors mentioned this exact strip last semester, so we're going with it.
SF: Chandler Parsons vs. John Salmons:
Rookies aren't really supposed to do what Parsons is doing right now. Between Marcus Morris, Edmond Dantes, and Parsons, who would have thought the Rockets would be relying on major minutes from the guy they look third in last year's draft?
So, Against All Odds, Parsons gets the advantage here.
Though Salmons does have a ballin' profile picture on ESPN. Straight dope. Did I say that right? "Straight dope?"
PF: Luis Scola vs. J.J. Hickson:
This whole "rebound by committee" thing is kicking Luis's ass. Of the 9 players who saw time against the Spurs, eight had at least four rebounds. Luis ended with 5, only one more than Chase Budinger, who played for 13 minutes total.
Am I the only one who feels like Hickson has been in the league for like 8 years already? Dude is in his fourth year and it just seems like I've seen him too much already. But he's only 23 and can play 3 positions. He's averaging 7/7 and will be a test for Scola due to his athleticism.
C: Samuel Dalembert vs. DeMarcus Cousins:
Dalembert plays his protege in this matchup. Okay, not really, but he was in Sacramento last year, so there's that.
Cousins is averaging a ridiculous 16/11 right now, with a couple of blocks thrown in for good measure. He's shooting 43% on the year, so he'll need to improve that. However, he's shooting 54% in January, so maybe he's already mending that issue.
And it pains me that Chuck Hayes will not be playing tonight at the Yote. Since tonight the focus is on the 1970s Rockets, Hayes will not be featured. However, the Kings will return in late March to Houston so there is the possibility that he will be honored at that time.
Kings: Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, Isaiah Thomas
Rockets: Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Patrick Patterson
Kings: Chuck Hayes out, Marcus Thornton questionable
Rockets: Courtney Lee
Prediction: Rockets 110-93
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.
Kings vs Rockets coverage