Tonight our Phoenix Suns open a three-game home stand by welcoming the Houston Rockets to the valley. The good news is that the Rockets played the Lakers last night, so they will be feeling the ill effects of a second night back to back just as the Suns will. How they handle it compared to the Suns remains to be seen. The Suns are 1-6 in back to backs this season
The Rockets enter tonight's contest losers of two straight versus the Hornets and Lakers. But prior to that, Houston had won 3 of 4, beating the likes of New Orleans, Dallas, and New Jersey. Check out the Dream Shake for a breakdown of last nights loss to the Lakers, in which they managed only 33 first half points.
Of late, the Rockets have been struggling offensively. In their last six games, Houston is averaging just 94 points, making only 43% of their shots, which ranks 28th in the league during that stretch. Their scoring in the paint has also fallen to just 34 ppg, which is nearly last in the league.
C: Chuck Hayes-Channing Frye
PF: Luis Scola-Amar'e Stoudemire
Overall, the Rockets are a middle of the pack team both offensively and defensively, putting up 99 points a game, while allowing the same this season. Individually, the Rockets leaders break down as follows:
- Aaron Brooks 17.9 ppg, 4.9 apg
- Carl Landry 16.5 ppg, 56% Fg
- Trevor Ariza 16 ppg
- Aaron Brooks 38% 3Pt Fg%
- Luis Scola 8.8 rpg
Aaron Brooks on last night's loss against the Lakers:
"We had open shots and we didn't capitalize on their mistakes. They did just enough to keep us away. You don't like to lose games like that, in that way where you have opportunities to make a push. It seemed like every time out we were like, "let's go, let's go.' We never went."
"To beat the world champs, you have to play well. We didn't play enough. In retrospect, you can say, 'Kobe only had 22, we held them to 90 points. That's a game we should have won.' But to beat the Lakers in L.A., you have to play really, really well. We didn't."
Steve Nash on last night's victory against the Kings:
"Overally, they (the Kings) just played better (in the second half). It's the NBA. We're on the road. They went on a run and we just held on. That (experience) is our advantage. As far as talent, athleticism and size, they're better than we are in a way. In many ways. Experience and cohesion has got to be what allows us to beat a team like that."
"We're a little bit disappointed because we don't know if the game should have gotten that close, but it did and we found a way to win. You can take some positives from the fact that we were able to recover after we let the game get tied. We have to find a way to close out games. We've struggled with that on the road."
Keys to the Game:
- Bench play. With Nash, Amare, and Frye playing over 38 minutes last night, it will be important for the likes of Leandro Barbosa and Goran Dragic to play well as Steve Nash will undoubtedly need some rest. Jason Richardson traditionally struggles in back to backs. Without at least a days rest, J-Rich's ppg drops from 15 ppg to 11. Lopez, Amundson, and Dudley need to step up against a physical Rockets squad. We may even need a a little Jarron Collins tonight. In the first meeting between the two teams, a Suns victory, the Suns managed to overcome a 40-44 rebounding deficit, and Landry's 9 rebounds (6 offensive), Ariza's 9 rebounds, Chuck Hayes' 8 rebounds, (4 offensive).
- Defense (yeah what's new)-contain Landry, Ariza, and Brooks. In the prior meeting, Landry went off for 27 points. While Ariza and Brooks went for a combined 13-39, Brooks was able to distribute the ball, to the tune of 13 assists, while Ariza hit the boards. Let us not for get the Luis Scola factor as well.
- Energy. OK, this will be tough to come by tonight. Hopefully the bench (and fans???) can provide a spark.
Game Day Links:
- Rockets vs Suns coverage
- Rockets vs Suns preview
- The Dream Shake
- KTAR: Suns/Rockets preview
- Houston Chronicle: Houston Rockets News
- The Bleacher Report: Tracy McGrady potential suitors?