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Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz game preview

And game thread, apparently

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Houston only gets teams coming off a loss now. Tonight marks Houston’s fourth game in a row where their opponents are coming off of a loss. It makes a difference in that teams are usually a little extra motivated after a loss. But mostly, it’s just an observation. Tonight’s game has an early start time, so be aware that the game tips off 3 hours earlier than normal home games.

The reinsertion of Patrick Beverley into the lineup is a huge boon for Houston. The Rockets need him to defend opposing point guards because he’s the only one who can consistently stick with them. Sure, Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer can try, and their results are usually decent. Those guys are tireless defenders and work hard enough to make up for some deficiencies.

I mentioned this in the recap, but I’ll drop it here again: I think we overrate “leadership” as a quality because we don’t really see it. Does Chris Paul telling his teammates where to go on offense make him a good leader? Or does that just make him a good point guard? I think it depends on your point of view. I also dislike the idea that a group of adult men need a leader in order to play to their fullest potential. Seems a little insulting to talk about how a young player like Kawhi Leonard is the leader on a squad that includes multiple dudes pushing 40. You can be a leader on the court without being a leader of the team. That distinction matters. And it’s one we as fans don’t get to see.

That’s a long way of me getting to the point of saying that Beverley leads the Rockets on the court in terms of his high work rate. I think it inspires everyone else and when Bev is telling you to work harder on defense, it means something because everyone can see that he doesn’t take possessions off. Does that make him the Rockets’ leader? No.

You know who is a leader? This guy!

Tip-off is at 4pm CT.