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Rockets kick off February as they rumble with the Thunder

Can the Rockets get it done without their starting backcourt?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

Oklahoma City Thunder (24-26) vs. Houston Rockets (12-38)

February 1, 2023, 7:00 p.m. CT

Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: SportsTalk790

Online: Rockets App

Thunder SB Nation Blog: Welcome to Loud City

Projected Starting Lineups

Rockets: Daishen Nix, Eric Gordon, Kenyon Martin Jr., Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Şengün

Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Aaron Wiggins, Kenrich Williams, Jalen Williams

The Rockets enter February upbeat after they closed out January with a 117-114 victory over the Detroit Pistons the other night. I, however, enter this game with some pessimism.

Things I’m not looking forward to:

  1. Watching a backcourt of Nix and Gordon have to compete with the likes of SGA and Giddey.
  2. Figuring out which J. Williams is which. Is it JALEN or is it JAYLIN?
  3. Jumping back to the first point, not having KPJ or our JALEN available is pretty damning as we go against an All-NBA performer in SGA.

I’ve found the bright side.

Things I am looking forward to:

  1. ALPEREN ŞENGÜN, ALWAYS. Especially tonight against a Thunder lineup that doesn’t start anyone who is overwhelmingly large. Alpy should have a chance to eat, once again.
  2. Jabari Smith Jr. revenge game?!? This is probably a stretch, but maybe he feels slighted that OKC passed over him. I’m not even sure how he feels about the city. He did have 15 points and 13 rebounds in their first matchup this season so I would welcome a similar type of night.
  3. DeMeco Ryans.

Speaking of DeMeco, who would be the Rockets’ equivalent if they hired a former player to run the show?