April 19, 2015 at 11:40 am

On Fire: Houston Rockets 2015 NBA Playoffs Intro Video

Houston Rockets 2015 Playoff Intro Video

If you were there Saturday night, you know what I’m talking about — but it was an absolutely electric atmosphere at the Toyota Center before, during and after the Houston Rockets’ 118-108 Game 1 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Adding to the hype was the player intros. One of the most anticipated events of the first playoff game is the reveal of the new playoff intro video that the Rockets and their video production crew put together. They did the amazing comic book intro video that ran the past two months and they released a new one for the 2015 playoffs last night, centered around an “on fire” theme.

Here is my recording of the intro video and player introductions.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 19, 2015 at 8:48 am

Podcast: Role players fuel Rockets in Game 1 win over Mavs

Corey Brewer celebrates

James Harden couldn’t get cookin’ and Dwight Howard was taken out of the game by the whistles, but it didn’t faze the Houston Rockets. The team still put up 118 points on their way to a huge Game 1 win over the Dallas Mavericks at home Saturday night. Why? The role players stepped up big as Trevor Ariza (12 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals), Jason Terry (four three-pointers) and Corey Brewer (13 of his 15 points in the fourth) were too much for Dallas.

MK Bower joins me from the Toyota Center as we discuss all things Game 1.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
April 16, 2015 at 11:10 am

Houston Rockets 2015 Draft Pick Situation

Houston Rockets NBA Dratf

The Houston Rockets are division champions for the first time in over twenty years, but while last night’s Pelicans win was a boost to the Rockets’ present, it came at a small price to their future.

The Rockets hold the 18th pick and the 32nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. Had the Pelicans lost to the Spurs, Houston would have been the fifth seed and faced Portland, but would have almost assuredly moved up four spots in the draft to #14.

Omer Asik Trade Complete

The Rockets acquired the Pelicans’ first-round pick last summer in the Omer Asik trade. The pick was protected so that it had to be between 4 and 19 to be conveyed. Daryl Morey often called the pick a “guaranteed lottery pick” but it didn’t work out that way.

With the Oklahoma City Thunder suffering massive losses due to injury down the stretch, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans squeezed in to the final playoff spot. That dropped their first-round pick to 18th overall. Had they lost that game, the Rockets would have had a 98.2% chance of picking 14th overall.

The teams that leapfrogged the Rockets are the Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. On the positive side, none of those teams would appear to need a point guard (a Rockets need), but that doesn’t mean much.

Overall, this was a good deal for the Rockets — it could have been amazing with the pick, but that was a risk worth taking given the West landscape. Asik was leaving this summer anyway and the Rockets netted long-term assets in the #18 pick and Trevor Ariza (sign-and-trade) in the deal. They also flipped Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson (received from the Pelicans in the deal) for Jason Terry and two second-round picks. The Pelicans now have to make an interesting financial decision on keeping Asik, who will be a free agent in July.

Marcus Camby – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

When Morey went through his breakthrough overhaul in the summer of 2012, he agreed to a rather small sign-and-trade of Marcus Camby to the Knicks, netting two second-round picks (2014, 2015) and Toney Douglas to help the Knicks work their cap. New York imploded, Camby was back on the Rockets a year later and now those draft picks are making an impact.

The Rockets took Nick Johnson last year with one of those picks and now they will receive the 32nd pick from the Knicks this summer. The top picks of the second round can be very valuable as contracts are not guaranteed in the second round like they are in the first round. Only the Minnesota Timberwolves at #31 will have a better second-round pick.

And to top it off, the Rockets have New York’s second-round pick next season as well, which came via trade with the Kings for taking Jason Terry.

Rockets traded away their own picks

The Rockets will not have their own first- or second-round picks in the 2015 Draft.

Houston’s own first-round pick, which will be #27, was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers last July to get them to agree to take Jeremy Lin off of the Rockets’ hands. The second-round pick that the Rockets also sent the Lakers (from the Clippers) needed to be between 51 and 55 to be conveyed, but it will be 57 or 58, so the Lakers got nothing there. Given how Lin played for the Lakers and his enormous salary (and sizable cap hit), this proved to be a very good deal at the cost of a very late first-rounder (guaranteed contract on the books). The Rockets also used the trade exception created by that move to land Corey Brewer.

The Rockets traded their own second-round pick, which will be #58, to Philadelphia in December in the move to acquire Alexey Shved.

Posted in Houston Rockets, NBA Draft |
April 15, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Houston Rockets win division, land 2nd seed and will face Dallas in the first round

James Harden Chandler Parsons

The Houston Rockets have won their division for the first time since their championship season of 1993-94.

The Rockets crushed the Utah Jazz Wednesday night in their regular season finale, then got the good news that the San Antonio Spurs lost to the New Orleans Pelicans. At 56-26, the Rockets take the Southwest Division. They take the #2 seed by tiebreaker with the LA Clippers (56-26) since the Rockets are a division winner and the Clippers are not.

The stage is now set for some poetic justice. Former Rocket Chandler Parsons and the Dallas Mavericks will be travelling to Houston this Saturday to start a first round best-of-seven series.

The Rockets were 3-1 against the Mavericks this season despite only having Dwight Howard healthy in one of those games. James Harden averaged 24.8 points a night in those four games, hitting 40% from three-point range, while Josh Smith was also strong, scoring 16.0 points on 50% from the field to go with 7.3 rebounds.

Game 1 – Sat. April 18, Dallas at Houston, 8:30 PM CT, ESPN
Game 2 – Tue. April 21, Dallas at Houston, 8:30 PM CT, TNT
Game 3 – Fri. April 24, Houston at Dallas, 6:00 PM CT, ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. April 26, Houston at Dallas, 8:30 PM CT, TNT
Game 5 – Tue. April 28, Dallas at Houston *
Game 6 – Thur. April 30, Houston at Dallas *
Game 7 – Sat. May 2, Dallas at Houston *

* if necessary

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 14, 2015 at 10:57 pm

Playoff scenarios for the Houston Rockets on the final day of the 2014-15 season

Houston Rockets Fans Playoffs

With the Los Angeles Clippers getting a win Tuesday night in Phoenix, they are now guaranteed either the 2nd or 3rd seed in the West. This simplifies the scenarios for the Rockets, who are in a very good position so long as they take care of business against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, which won’t be an easy task.

So let’s take a look at the breakdown as we arrive at the final day of the 2014-15 NBA regular season.

If the Rockets beat the Jazz…

The Rockets would clinch home-court advantage, facing either Dallas or Portland depending on the Spurs game in New Orleans.

Dallas

If San Antonio loses, Houston will be the 2nd seed and face Dallas. The LA Clippers would be 3rd. If Memphis wins, they go to 5th and San Antonio falls to 6th. If Memphis loses, they fall to 6th and San Antonio is 5th.

Portland

If San Antonio wins, Houston will be the 5th seed and face Portland. The LA Clippers would be 3rd. The Memphis game no longer matters — whether they win or lose, the Grizzlies would fall to 6th.

If the Rockets lose to the Jazz…

Then it gets more complicated. Memphis’ home game against Indiana becomes more important.

Portland

If San Antonio wins and Memphis loses, Houston will be the 5th seed and face Portland. The rest would be 2) San Antonio, 3) LA Clippers, 6) Memphis.

LA Clippers

If San Antonio wins and Memphis wins, Houston will be the 6th seed and face the LA Clippers. The rest would be 2) San Antonio, 3) LA Clippers, 5) Memphis.

Portland

If San Antonio loses and Memphis loses, Houston will be the 5th seed and face Portland. The rest would be 2) LA Clippers, 3) San Antonio, 6) Memphis.

San Antonio

If San Antonio loses and Memphis wins, Houston will be the 6th seed and face San Antonio. The rest would be 2) LA Clippers, 3) San Antonio, 5) Memphis.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 13, 2015 at 5:08 am

Hack-a-Rocket and the Emerging Playoff Picture

James Harden Dwight Howard Houston Rockets

For the Houston Rockets, it was a weekend full of highs and lows — and not necessarily in that order.

MK Bower of CultureMap joins me from the scene at the Toyota Center after James Harden, Dwight Howard and Corey Brewer powered the Rockets to a 121-114 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday night. We discuss what we saw in the win, the massive opportunity lost against the Spurs, the latest opponent strategy to intentionally foul the Rockets early and often, the impact of Donatas Motiejunas’ injury and potential playoff matchups for the Rockets as the NBA season draws to a close this week.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
April 8, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Donatas Motiejunas out for the season and playoffs

Donatas Motiejunas injury

It wouldn’t quite be the Houston Rockets if injuries didn’t pile up as the team heads to the playoffs.

USA Today reported the bad news today — Donatas Motiejunas, who has been out the last six games with a back injury, will miss the rest of the season and playoffs.

It’s a big blow to the Rockets as they could really use Motiejunas’ versatility inside. Donatas was having a breakout campaign on both sides of the ball in his third NBA season, averaging 12.0 points on 50.4% shooting and hitting a stellar 36.8% from three-point range. At times, D-Mo was lethal inside, unleashing a series of deft post moves, fakes and hook shots to score in the paint. Frankly, Motiejunas was the Rockets’ second best scoring option behind James Harden.

“He was one of the guys we definitely went to,” said coach Kevin McHale. “He was able to get down in the low box. A lot of nights, if our offense got slowed down, we were able to play through D-Mo, especially late. He got us baskets, put pressure on the defense. We’re going to miss him.”

This is the second key rotation player that the Rockets will be without throughout the playoffs as Patrick Beverley was lost to a torn ligament in his wrist.

Motiejunas said yesterday via Twitter that he was working to return and posted a photo of a workout:

It’s just a real shame we’re at this point as the Rockets seem to be having a special season. With Dwight Howard back along with D-Mo, Josh Smith and Terrence Jones, the Rockets were poised to have a slew of strong and versatile options inside as they entered the postseason. Instead, the four Rocket big men were never healthy at the same time — they never played in a single game all together.

Look for Smith and Jones to pick up the slack at the four, but the injury means the Rockets will continue to run more Joey Dorsey as their backup big man and that’s not all good. We are likely to see a lot of intentional fouling in the playoffs, as we have seen the last few games, as Dorsey shoots just 28.0% from the charity stripe.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
March 30, 2015 at 11:45 am

Patrick Beverley will have surgery, out for the season

Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

Injuries have been a big part of the story for the Houston Rockets this season and the narrative just kept on going on Monday.

Patrick Beverley will indeed opt for surgery on his wrist and is out for the rest of the 2014-15 season and playoffs, the Rockets announced today. Beverley will undergo the surgery tomorrow.

The Rocket point guard suffered torn ligaments in his left wrist last week in a game against the Pacers and was waiting a week, talking to specialists, before deciding how to proceed.

Beverley’s shooting numbers were down this year — the third year guard averaged 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 30.8 minutes per game in 56 appearances with the Rockets this season. He also played some games this year where his defensive impact wasn’t quite the same as previous seasons, but he’s been a key cog to the Rockets’ attack in that he plays strong defense, keeps the turnovers down and knows his spots for kickouts for threes. His absence will definitely be felt.

The Rockets will turn to Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni to fill the void, but both players are 37 years old. Look for Corey Brewer to likely pick up the defensive slack on opposing point guards (and there are plenty the Rockets could potentially face in the West playoffs). Rookie Nick Johnson, who has been seeing some meaningful minutes the past two games and tackled the challenge of defending John Wall for stretches on Sunday, could help here as well.

As for the future, Beverley is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Rockets will have the right to match any offer made by another club — the same situation the Rockets were in with Chandler Parsons last summer.

So the situation raises the question of whether Beverley has played his last game as a Houston Rocket. The Rockets want Beverley back, but they are all about value — there will be a number that they won’t cross, and it’s going to be lower than the bar they set for Parsons.

There’s also the matter of other point guards the Rockets may be looking at. The Rockets have had interest for years in bringing over 2009 second round pick Sergio Llull, but he has resisted NBA pitches. That may be changing as an ESPN source was quoted as saying there’s a “pretty decent chance” Llull comes over next season. Hoopshype claimed the Rockets have already made a financial pitch to the seasoned combo guard. Daryl Morey and company should also have a decent first round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans (Asik trade), currently projected 14th overall, that could potentially be used on a point guard.

Posted in Houston Rockets |