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Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns game preview

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Poor Phoenix. They’ve now gotten Houston twice off of disappointing losses. And for the second time in three games, these teams will square off.

Houston is coming off a game in which James Harden struggled with foul trouble, triples didn’t fall until it was too late, and the Grizzlies’ bench missed zero shots (all stats approximate, as always). There were problems. The Rockets forced some threes that weren’t there. And Memphis is a great defensive team. But on the whole you could say that Houston was a bit unlucky and were still in the game in a tough road environment.

The Rockets haven’t looked like the same team since Clint Capela went down. I realize that’s the “duh” statement of the season, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Harden cannot toss lobs when he gets in the paint so the defense converges on him. That screws up his passing lanes and allows the defense to get their hands on more passes.

So, in response Harden maybe probes a little less and settles a little more. Or he tries to go by himself and not pass. The Rockets work on this fulcrum of Harden having options and the ability to make all of those options happen. With the loss of Capela, it throws the Houston offense off. The trickle effect is noticeable. What’s more, Houston’s defense is ill-equipped down low even with Capela and now it’s even more glaring.

To be fair to Houston, they’ve play two of the best teams in the West. One was on the road, and the other was a game Houston choked away and wouldn’t have been different had Capela been involved.

Since these teams met, the Suns got the Philadelphia 76ers at home and got a great game from pretty much everyone in a 123-116 victory. Despite being down 13 at halftime, the Suns road a great second half and 42 fourth quarter points to the win. The backcourt was especially solid: Eric Bledsoe finished with 24/11 and Devin Booker put up 23/6/6.

We just saw this team so I’ll spare you the spiel. The Suns played with Houston for three quarters, never letting the Rockets really run away with the game. Multiple times the Rockets grabbed double digit leads and every time but the last the Suns were able to respond. With this contest at home and with plenty of rest, the Rockets should take care of business.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT.