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Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers game preview

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The Rockets look to bounce back tonight at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There's no such thing as a moral victory in sports. I truly believe that. There's wins and losses. That's why when people complain about late calls or whatever, the response is usually "Who cares?"

However, there are good things that come from losses. It's semantics, but the point is that in a long season you look for growth and reasons for optimism after losses. And I saw plenty of that in the Rockets' loss against the Spurs on Saturday.

So it seems only right that we talk about hope before a game against a team that has lived off hope for a while now.

Against the Spurs, the Rockets were awful. Make no mistake.

Houston spent most of the game with their shooting percentage in the mid-30s. The Spurs spent the entire game above 50%.

If you asked who played well for Houston, the answer would probably be Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, and maybe Clint Capela. James Harden dropped a triple-double but shot poorly (7-18) and turned the ball over 7 times. You know the rest of the stats: Ryno was terrible, the bench was awful (outside of EG), and the Rockets played optional defense in the middle quarters.

And yet, the Rockets only lost by 6 and were in the game late with multiple chances (4 in fact) to cut the lead to 1.

So there's optimism there. Now, Houston has to regain the consistency they showed in the first 8 games of the season. Maybe the Rockets were thrown off by the weird court that they were playing on.

Tip off is at pm CT on NBA TV.

Matchups:

Point Guard: James Harden vs. Sergio Rodriguez

How did the Rockets get back into the Spurs game? Harden wasn't going 1-on-1. Maybe the Rockets should adopt that fourth quarter strategy more often, especially when ahead.

Triple-doubles are nice, I guess. Expect Harden to go chasing another one tonight.

Advantage: Rockets

Shooting Guard: Corey Brewer vs. Gerald Henderson

The Corey Brewer experience hasn't been the bag of awful that Rockets fans have been bracing themselves for. Having two plus wing defenders to pair with Harden is a luxury for MDA and Houston. Obviously, the return of Patrick Beverley is hotly anticipated, but versatility is key in today's NBA and it's nice that Houston can show more than one look.

In the meantime, if Brewer could make a three pointer, that would be nice. He hasn't made one since the calendar switched to November. And that one was a heave to beat the first quarter buzzer against the Mavs. He's going to get open corner 3s. He has to make some of them.

Hendo is averaging 10 points on 48% shooting. He's an athletic wing and those have historically killed Houston. Last year as a Blazer he performed well against the Rockets so this is a bigger matchup than you might originally think.

Advantage: Sixers

Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Robert Covington

Technically, this is a matchup of former Rockets. Covington has been the man in Philly in previous years (not that that means much), but with so much in flux nowadays with Sam Hinkie gone, he's struggled to begin the season. He's shooting just 31%, with the vast majority off his shot attempts being three pointers. He did drop 23 in Indiana last week so of course he still has the goods.

Ariza keeps doing Ariza things. His 37% shooting percentage from distance would match last season's mark and would be tied for the second-best of his career.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Ryan Anderson vs. Dario Saric

Ryno won't go 1-13 every night. When you shoot as much as he does from deep, you're bound to have poor shooting nights to the point where 1-13 is an inevitability. But shooters have to keep shooting and my guess is that it won't bother him or put him into a downward spiral like it might with other players (looks pointedly at Corey Brewer).

Saric has come from overseas and is playing his rookie season after being drafted 12th overall by Orlando is 2014. He's shooting 48% from distance but 39% overall. At the age of 22, he's still got plenty of time to learn and get better. He's one to keep an eye on moving forward.

These two guys might have a 3-point contest going tonight.

Advantage: Rockets

Center: Clint Capela vs. Joel Embiid

IS "THE PROCESS" THE GREATEST NICKNAME EVER? IS HE HAKEEM 2.0? Only time will tell.

My dislike of Bill Simmons is well-known at this point, but The Ringer did provide us with this gem. I watched it again last night and couldn't find anything NSFW, so you should be okay if you're watching in a public place.

Advantage: Even

Bench

Rockets: Eric Gordon, Sam DekkerK.J. McDanielsTyler Ennis, Nene, Montrezl Harrell

Sixers: Ersan Ilyasova, Richaun Holmes, Jahlil Okafor, Hollis Thompson, T.J. McConnell, Sauce Castillo

Advantage: Rockets

Prediction: Rockets blow out a team at home, win 115-98.

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