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ESPN says Dwight Howard is a contender for Defensive Player of the Year

Some new angles about Dwight, as well as some Grantland love for the Beard on this edition of Rocket Fuel.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Seems like other people were thinking about Dwight around the same time we were, only they're not as worried as we are. That's good, but they're not fans, and fans worry.

The Return of Dwight Howard | ESPN Video

After an interminable ad, you have about a 50 percent chance at a working video in which Tom Haberstroh notes that Dwight's only allowing a 28.1 field goal percentage when he's within two feet of the shooter. He thinks that Dwight's back in the DPOY conversation too. It's not quite a rebuttal of our worries about his age and health, but it does remind us to count our Dwight blessings.

Pau Gasol says Dwight Howard's not as aggressive this season |

CBS Sports' Matt Moore says Dwight's lack of dominance is his teammates' fault. I don't disagree, but both of his arguments fail to mention one thing: Howard just looks less explosive. He doesn't get up as high on dunks, doesn't challenge as many shots/drives. The numbers are there but the eye test tells a different story. Also, our commenters correctly pointed out that Pat Beverley's entry pass game is a mild disgrace right now.

The Future of Basketball Is Here, and It Looks a Lot Like James Harden | Grantland

Grantland's player tracking whiz Kirk Goldsberry basically took what we've been saying all year about HardeMVP (sound it out) and made it nice and pretty. We appreciate it, Kirk! The Beard's brand of distribution does not solve Dwight's post service problems, but it has offset them to keep the Rockets offense afloat.

Kyrie Irving to return to Cleveland Cavaliers' starting lineup |

Aw, nuts. Well, Pat Beverley's got more to do tonight, at least. This article also mentions that new Cav Iman Shumpert will definitely not play tonight, while J.R. is a maybe. Long-two contest between him and Smoove at halftime?

Donatas Motiejunas defends his workout routine | Extra Mustard

This amuses me to no end: Rockets post picture of Donuts squatting 135 lbs. People throw shade on Twitter. D-Mo says "it was a warmup set," couch personal trainers go back to the couch.

Struggles down the stretch worry Rockets more than free throw absence | Ultimate Rockets

The Rockets failed to execute down the stretch Monday night. It was a rarity considering they've been excellent at closing out teams this year, for what it's worth.

How the Rockets Can Win the Western Conference | Bleacher Report

Spoiler alert: BR says the Rockets can win if they beat other teams! Seriously, that's what they say at the end. The analysis in here is basic, but that doesn't make it false. Also, even Bleacher Report knows that the Rockets need to run more pick and roll.