Scouting Report: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets are 10-5 and currently tied for fourth place in the Western Conference. They’ve done pretty much as well as expected after making the biggest offseason move in the NBA by landing Dwight Howard in free agency.
Howard is averaging 17 points and 13 rebounds per game. The seven-foot monster is the NBA’s rebounding leader and is showing just how good he can be now that he’s fully healthy again. Preventing him from catching the ball down low is easier said than done, but the undersized Al Horford will be tasked with that tonight. The strategy that some teams have been using is to simply foul him if he gets to a position where two points become automatic, because he’ only a 54 percent free throw shooter.
Rockets leading scorer and reigning All Star James Harden is questionable. He’s missed the past two games with an injury, and though the thought was that he may return tonight, the Rockets see no need to rush him back considering they’ve won the past two games without him. If Houston doesn’t have him, it’ll be a big break for the Hawks, who are missing Kyle Korver, Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack themselves.
Houston also has Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons in the backcourt, both of whom are averaging 16 points on 50 percent shooting. Both are trigger-happy shooters who can make them when open, but both also like to drive and draw contact. With Lin especially, you have to keep him out of the paint. Parsons is a terrific shooter, though he has shot just 32 percent from downtown so far.
All this firepower makes Houston the NBA’s highest scoring team at 108+ points per game. Atlanta hasn’t been scoring a lot over the past few weeks, so they’ll need to do a good job of defending the three, limiting the Rockets to one shot and avoiding foul trouble if they want to stay close on the road. This is a good opportunity for the Hawks to bounce back after a rough game Tuesday against Orlando.
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