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Houston Rockets vs. Atlanta Hawks game preview

The Rockets end the year with the surging Hawks as Houston looks to rebound from a two-game losing skid.

Scott Halleran

The Rockets beat the Hawks earlier this year behind 45 points from James Harden. Can they end the year on a high note and stop their recent slide?

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Remember that it's an early tip tonight in Houston. Also, happy new year to everyone who uses the Gregorian calendar.

Tip off is at 6pm CST.


Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Jeff Teague

These two players are pretty similar. Teague is averaging 14/7/2, which is pretty good no matter how you slice it.

Lin's three-point shooting has been terrible so far, but the Rockets need him to be better if they want to get back to their winning ways.

Advantage: Even

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Lou Williams

This matchup needs to be one-sided, but it won't be. Williams is averaging 16 points per game this season and scored 22 against the Rockets earlier this year.

Harden has to keep attacking the basket, even when he isn't getting the calls. He's a good shooter, but he becomes an elite talent when he's in attack mode.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Kyle Korver

You've got to account for Korver at all times on the court. Just his presence means you have to stay on him if he's one pass away. Parsons is going to be chasing him around a lot tonight.

At the same time, the Rockets have to attack Korver when he's in a defensive mismatch. This should be often.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Marcus Morris vs. Josh Smith

So Smith missed the last Hawks game and is listen as day-to-day. If he doesn't play, Pachulia will play and he and Horford will form a big front line.

I also don't know if Morris will start again or whether Patterson will take his starting spot back.

Clearly, I'm going to say there's a lot of questions here and cop out and call it even.

Advantage: Even

Center: Omer Asik vs. Al Horford

Horford is more power forward than center, and he has a jump shot to prove it. Asik is bigger and can beat him on the glass, but when Pachilia is in and the Hawks go twin towers it could be a nightmare for the Rockets.

A disturbing trend for the Rockets is forming, and I'm worried. Too many times players are pick-and-rolling with Asik then throwing passes behind him or at his feet. Omer's hands are not the greatest off a pick-and-roll, but the Rockets are putting him in positively horrid positions, and it's not his fault.

Advantage: Even


Rockets: Toney Douglas, Carlos Delfino, Greg Smith, Patrick Patterson

Hawks: Mike Scott, Anthony Tolliver, Zaza Pachulia, John Jenkins, Anthony Morrow

Advantage: Rockets

Prediction: Rockets give AK the birthday present he really wants, win 115-98.