February 14, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Patrick Beverley wins the 2015 All-Star Game Skills Challenge

Let’s be honest — very few expected this. But Patrick Beverley has been doing this kind of thing throughout his career: When very few expect much out of him, he surprises.

Beverley won the All-Star Game Skills Challenge Saturday night, defeating a talented pool of point guards to take the crown. He went head-to-head and beat Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns, Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks and strong>Brandon Knight of the Milwaukee Bucks to become the 2015 Champion.

“I hope Coach McHale was watching,” joked Beverley. “Maybe I can get some plays now.”

It didn’t hurt that Beverley had Mr. Hakeem Olajuwon in his ear during the competition.

Patrick Beverley Hakeem Olajuwon

Here’s the full video of Beverley in the competition.

Beverley also spoke to the media after the event. Here is the full press conference.
Patrick Beverley Skills Champion

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 11, 2015 at 1:32 pm

If there’s an ‘idiot’ here, it’s Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley Daryl Morey

By now you’ve heard about Charles Barkley blasting Daryl Morey and the analytics movement in the NBA after Tuesday night’s game.

After Barkley said at halftime that the Rockets were “one of the two worst defensive teams in the NBA”, a claim that is truly ridiculous, Morey responded with a tweet:

Barkley then went into the tirade against Morey in post-game that is full of more holes than the street meat he craves.

But what was really eye-opening was that Barkley said Morey, who he called an “idiot”, has only made the obvious moves of adding superstar talent.

“He went out and got James Harden and Dwight Howard and (he’s) going to tell me that’s analytics,” said Barkley.

Interesting, because here’s what Barkley had to say about the Harden trade at the time. Two days after Morey pulled off the deal and gave him the then-controversial $80 million contract, Barkley went on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption (full audio) and said how great of a trade it was…

… for the Thunder.

I love the Oklahoma City trade. I think that trade made them better. I’m a Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb fan. I like that trade a lot for them.

Host Tony Kornheiser then asked Barkley point blank if he felt Harden was a “foundational player the way the Rockets apparently do.”

I do not. I do not see him like that for the simple fact (that) being an instant offense off the bench, when they’re going to give you the ball every time and you’re the dominant scorer, it won’t work like that when you’re in a traditional offense.

Ouch. Harden, currently riding back-to-back games of 40+ points, is now considered by many to be the NBA’s MVP leader this season. This is revisionist history at its finest. Barkley would have you believe this was an obvious move, yet he himself did not see this coming out of Harden.

On the other hand, Morey — as well as many others who believe in so-called “analytics” — did.

“We feel like James Harden is a player we can build around. He’s an elite offensive player, a complete player. I still think he’s an underrated player,” said Morey the day after the trade. “He’s absolutely someone that, when they see him step into the role of a star with the Houston Rockets, people are going to realize just how good he is.”

Added Morey: “To win the title, you have to have a foundational player, and James is that.”

And if you like watching Barkley flip flop, here’s a more recent case as Barkley completely changes course on Josh Smith (who he implied last night was an obvious addition by Morey) in the span of a month, going from a mistake signing to the second-best player on the team who needs 10-15 shots a night.

However, what is being lost in the shuffle of an unnecessary debate over analytics is the history that sparked Morey’s tweet in the first place — Barkley’s consistent hatred for the Houston Rockets that has spanned for years now. It’s hard to believe this is a player who donned the uniform for four seasons and said at the time that he wished he had played his whole career here.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 9, 2015 at 11:19 am

What’s Wrong With Patrick Beverley?

Patrick Beverley

In the last nine games, Patrick Beverley is averaging just 7.7 points on 32.9% shooting and 25% from three-point range (11-44).

But it’s one thing to struggle offensively as a role player. It’s another to be wildly inconsistent at your bread and butter — defense.

MK Bower of CultureMap joins me on the podcast from the Toyota Center after the Rockets fell 109-98 to the Blazers. We discuss the game, Beverley’s struggles and the team’s need for help at the point. We also touch on just how special this season has been for James Harden, the trade deadline and the impact of Dwight Howard being out 6-8 weeks.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
February 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm

Dwight Howard reveals “6-to-8 week” time frame for return

Dwight Howard on Sunday spoke to the media for the first time since receiving a bone marrow aspirate injection in his right knee, and the Rockets’ center revealed that he expected to be out six to eight weeks.

“Looking at the doctors say six to eight weeks, you’re like ‘Oh man, that’s a long time,'” said Howard. “But then I just start thinking about the positive things that can happen in those six to eight weeks.”

Howard was in great spirits, saying repeatedly that “everything happens for a reason” and that he’s looking at the positives.

Dr. Walt Lowe of the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute, who performed the procedure, followed Dwight in speaking to the press and said that time frame is “very reasonable.”

Lowe was asked when that 6-8 week time frame technically started and he clarified that Dwight can come back much sooner than that, depending on how he’s doing.

“It’s kind of whenever you want it to (start),” said Dr. Lowe. “Seriously, it’s just an estimate. This will happen as he heals, so I’m not going to let him wait to four weeks if he’s ready to push at two. We have to make decisions week in and week out based on how he’s doing and based on the level of loading. I’d say from the day of the procedure, the day he quit playing is probably where that concept comes from, but really it’s more just a time frame to say that’s probably very reasonable for him to be Dwight again.”

Lowe was optimistic, saying it’s not a day to day thing but a “week to week” injury.

dwight-howard-knee-injury-media

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 4, 2015 at 6:55 pm

James Harden Named Player of the Month… Again

james-harden-player-month

James Harden is making his case for 2014-15 MVP.

Harden was named the Western Conference Player of the Month for January today, marking the second straight month he has earned the award. It’s the first time in franchise history that a Rocket has won the award in consecutive months. He joins Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon and Moses Malone as the only Rockets players to win Western Conference Player of the Month Honors multiple times.

It’s no surprise. Harden averaged 25.8 points (47.6% FG, 42.6% from three and 87.4% at the line) to go with 6.7 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per night in January.

Over the last two months where Harden won the awards (31 games), Harden is averaging 28.0 points on a blistering 47.7% from the field and 40.7% from three, 6.9 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

The latest news on Dwight Howard’s knee is not good at all

dwight-howard-knee

The Houston Rockets released an update this morning on Dwight Howard’s knee, and it’s not exactly encouraging:

This morning Dr. Walt Lowe of the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute conducted a bone marrow aspirate injection on Rockets center Dwight Howard’s right knee. Howard will begin rehabilitation immediately and will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.

We went from twisted ankle to this. Howard, who has missed the last four games, will miss a minimum of 13 more over the next four weeks, but the procedure that he underwent shows that the knee issue they’re trying to tackle is more serious than something that would just require rest.

The Rockets are known for not revealing much about player injuries, as we saw for some time with Terrence Jones, and we certainly don’t have all the facts about Dwight’s knee here, but a bone marrow aspirate injection suggests a cartilage issue. Dwight revealed as much back in early December, but it was hard to take his words as an actual medical diagnosis. Not anymore.

“The problem was my cartilage was wearing down, and it’s been wearing down because I’ve been playing basketball for a very long time,” said Howard at that time. “When you have the bone rubbing on bone, it brings a lot of pain.”

When there’s a cartilage issue in the knee and the words “bone on bone” are used, microfracture surgery is always feared.

Again, I’m not pretending to know the details of the situation and am in wait-and-see mode like the rest of us, but it’s hard to be too optimistic after reports like this.


UPDATE: While it’s still clear there has been some cartilage loss in Dwight’s knee, Dr. Walter Lowe did provide that optimism, speaking with local Fox’s Mark Berman to provide some context on why they went forward with the procedure.

It’s a biologically active injection that helps almost everything heal in the knee. We took some bone marrow out of his pelvis. It gives us some young, very strong platelets with a lot of healing factors. I think his prognosis is great. This is something we did today to try to hasten the recovery time. It’s really a shot. It’s not a surgical procedure. It’s a 20 minute deal. I don’t think it’s a big deal. We want to do everything we can to give Dwight the best chance of being back as fast as he can be back. The other side of that is we want him to feel like Dwight and be one hundred percent when he comes back. This sort of mixes those two things together. I think he would get well even without this today. We’re really treating this like a bone bruise. There is nothing structurally wrong with his knee. That soreness is what we’re trying to get rid of. So we’re really basically treating a bone bruise. The time frame for these bone bruises to heal is in that 4-6 week timeframe. The most important thing for Dwight is his pain (to be) gone. That’s more important than what the MRI is going to show me in four weeks. As long as we’re seeing a combination of bone bruise gone away (and) symptoms being better, then that’s when we’ll start the transition back to the court. What makes this heal is essentially rest. I would certainly expect him before the playoffs. I hope we have quite a few games before the playoffs. I really expect him to recover and play again this season.”

Posted in Houston Rockets |
January 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Podcast: The Halfway Point for Rockets

Dwight Howard James Harden

We’re just past the halfway point of the season, with Houston sitting at 29-13 on the year. The Rockets have won six of their last eight games, but their two losses — a disappointment in Orlando and an embarrassment at home to Golden State — have revealed a lot about them and shown that they still have a lot of progress left to make.

MK Bower of CultureMap joins me on the podcast from the Toyota Center following the 110-98 Rocket win against the Indiana Pacers on Monday. We discuss the recent play of the Rockets, the need for more on-court synergy between James Harden and Dwight Howard, how Josh Smith and Corey Brewer have fit in and the lack of obvious trade targets for the Rockets with the February trade deadline on the horizon.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
January 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Houston Rockets Salary Cap Update

Josh Smith Corey Brewer Houston Rockets

Back in October, I wrote that (a) the Houston Rockets had enough room to use the Jeremy Lin trade exception, possibly the Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) and still use salary matching rules to take on additional salary and (b) the luxury tax would not be a significant deterrent for Rockets owner Leslie Alexander.

Well, Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been busy following this very plan.
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Posted in Houston Rockets |