May 13, 2015 at 3:43 am

James Harden fights off illness to push Rockets to Game 6

James Harden Clint Capela

Fighting an illness all day with his team’s playoff hopes on life support, James Harden did more than just play through it Tuesday night.

Harden posted his first career playoff triple double, scoring 26 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing 10 assists as the Rockets staved off elimination with a 124-103 Game 5 trouncing of the Clippers at the Toyota Center.

“He had a hell of a game,” said Kevin McHale of Harden. “He had an IV this afternoon and he played a great game for us and we needed it.”

The Rockets are down 3-2 in the series with a crucial Game 6 set for Thursday in Los Angeles. MK Bower joins Clutch to discuss the ugly showings in L.A., Harden’s performance in Game 5, the coaching adjustments, Clint freakin’ Capela and what’s on deck at the Staples Center.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
May 7, 2015 at 8:44 am

Stop complaining and start giving Harden, McHale credit for Game 2

Kevin McHale and James Harden

McHale’s an idiot. Harden’s a choker. By the second half of Game 2 Wednesday night, confirmation bias was in full effect and fans were running with the narratives.

But a funny thing happened in the third quarter.

MK Bower joins me from the Toyota Center to discuss that and recap the Houston Rockets 115-109 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, sending the series back to L.A. tied at 1-1.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
May 5, 2015 at 10:02 am

Trying to make sense of the Game 1 debacle

Houston Rockets - Trevor Ariza, Jams Harden, Dwight Howard

Absolutely nothing went right for the Houston Rockets Monday night.

Playing on five full days of rest and facing a tired team without its star point guard, the Rockets seemed to roll over and die in Game 1, matching a season-high with 24 turnovers and getting outscored by 29 points in the final 31+ minutes of the game to fall 117-101.

MK Bower joins me at the arena to try to make sense of the nightmare.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
May 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Rockets to face Los Angeles Clippers in the second round


The Houston Rockets finally know who their second round opponent will be.

The Rockets will face Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals after the Clippers finished off the Spurs in seven games Saturday night. Game One starts this Monday, May 4th, at 8:30 PM at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets and Clippers have the same record but the Rockets have home court advantage by virtue of the division winner tiebreaker.

The Rockets were 2-2 against the Clippers this season. The good news for Houston is Dwight Howard did not play in any of those games. James Harden was held under his scoring average in the four games, posting 20.0 points on just 35.8 percent shooting.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Every Houston Rocket Highlight from Game 5 vs Dallas

Houston Rockets Highlights Game 5 vs. Dallas

We’re going to miss the local broadcast as it’s all national from here as the Houston Rockets start the second round of the playoffs on Monday.

But it’s a joy to listen to Bill Worrell, Matt Bullard and Clyde Drexler with their final call of the season as the Rockets knock off the Dallas Mavericks with a Game 5 win. Here are all the highlights.

Local Broadcast

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 29, 2015 at 10:41 am

Tale of the tape: Mark Cuban vs. Rockets

Mark Cuban Houston Rockets series

It’s been less than four years since Dallas owner Mark Cuban dismantled a championship team for the mere chance to pursue Dwight Howard as a free agent. It didn’t work out, of course, with Howard instead eventually choosing to sign with the Houston Rockets, Cuban’s chief rival.

Since Howard spurned Dallas, Cuban and the Mavs have taken repeated personal shots at the Rockets, often using the media in an attempt to drive a narrative against the Rockets being an elite destination for marquee players.

But with the Rockets wrapping up a “gentleman’s sweep” against Cuban’s Mavs in just five games, it feels like an appropriate time to go back to the tape and examine the validity of Cuban’s arguments.

Let’s take a look!

Cuban’s allegation (July 18, 2013)

The Dallas Mavericks will be better off in the immediate future because they missed out on Dwight Howard, allowing them to sign several other free agents, owner Mark Cuban said. “I think we’ve put ourselves in a spot where we’re in a better spot than we were at if we got just the one max-out deal,” Cuban told during the Mavs’ summer league game Wednesday night. “I think it’d be better shorter and longer term. I don’t want to make that sound the wrong way. I think we’ll be better this year because we added five good players or more.”

Verdict: Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington and Sam Dalembert — three of the four main pieces that Dallas ultimately used that space to sign — are no longer even with Cuban’s team. Monta Ellis, the fourth, is a probable free agent this summer. And having Ellis as arguably the team’s top option has led to 8th- and 7th-place finishes in the West for the Mavs in his two seasons in Dallas.

Cuban’s allegation (October 31, 2013)

“Obviously, he made a mistake in judgment,” Cuban said with a laugh when asked if he could blame Dwight Howard for choosing young James Harden as his key running mate with the Rockets over older Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. “Do I blame him? No, that’s what young kids do. They make mistakes in judgment.”

“You choose teams,” Cuban said of what he believes is a sound strategy for free agents. “You don’t choose players. If he made a choice off of an individual player, yeah, he made a mistake. You choose teams. You choose organizations. You choose coaches.”

Verdict: Dwight Howard chose a team and organization that’s finished 4th and 2nd in the West in his two seasons in Houston, winning an average of 55 games per season. He’s also currently in the second round of the playoffs. The Mavs have averaged 49.5 wins per season since, resulting in 8th- and 7th-place finishes, and were dispatched in the first round both times. Oh, and did we mention that the second exit for Cuban’s Mavs came directly at the hands of Howard?

Cuban’s allegation (August 22, 2014)

“It says a lot about their approach more than anything else. They just have a different understanding and approach to chemistry than we do. Some teams, and that’s not just the Rockets, just put together talent and the talent takes care of itself. We think chemistry matters. When Carmelo came to visit us, there was no chance that we were going to put him in someone else’s jersey number and put it on the outside of the arena. That’s not our style.”

Chandler Parsons Mark Cuban Verdict: Mr. Chemistry dealt for Rajon Rondo after his Mavs started the season 19-8 and appeared to have one of the great offenses in league history. Including the postseason, the Mavs then went 26-22 in games Rondo played, barely eclipsing .500. There’s also the matter of Cuban stripping down his roster after their 2011 championship run, all for the chance of going after Howard the next summer. Meanwhile, the Rockets are currently starting four of the same five starters (Howard, Harden, Ariza, Jones) they did opening night, with the only absence due to injury (Pat Beverley).

Which team is the one that values chemistry, again?

Cuban’s allegation (September 29, 2014)

Cuban on Daryl Morey’s comments that if players want to win a championship they need to go to Houston: “I’m not sure how he would know that.”

Verdict: Ask Howard, the same guy for which Cuban tore apart a championship team to pursue.

Cuban’s allegation (November 22, 2013)

“They were bad for so long, it wasn’t really there, other than that one playoff year,” Cuban said of a rivalry with the Rockets. “But now they’ve got good people. I think there’s more of a rivalry building. It’s still early in the season for that. But now that we’ve played them two times, we can help them sell tickets next time. I think they need a little help.”

Verdict: The minimum ticket price on the secondary market to get into Rockets/Mavs playoff games at Toyota Center was roughly $100/ticket. Meanwhile, tickets for Sunday’s Game 4 in Dallas were offered for below $40/ticket on StubHub, selling for well below face value. Perhaps Cuban should be more concerned with his own ticket affairs.

Cuban’s allegation (April 17, 2015)

“[The biggest difference is] practice time. There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets. You know exactly what they’re gonna do,” he says. “But James Harden is so good. That’s what analytics have begot. Right? Predictability. If you know what the percentages are, in the playoffs, you have time to counter them. Whether you’re good enough to do it is another question. Because they are very talented, and James Harden, I think, is the MVP. Because that’s not a very good team over there.”

Verdict: The “Predictable, not a very good team” 4, Mark Cuban’s group 1.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 29, 2015 at 3:46 am

Podcast: “Predictable” Rockets crush Mavericks, advance to West Semifinals

James Harden celebrates Game 5

“There’s no more predictable team than the Rockets,” said Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “You know exactly what they’re gonna do.”

Predicting it is one thing. Stopping it is entirely another.

But after dropping 28 points in Game 5 and leading the Rockets to a 4-1 series win — the franchise’s first since 2009 — James Harden made it clear that making quick work of Cuban’s Mavericks wasn’t the end game for the Rockets.

MK Bower joins me on the podcast from the Toyota Center as we recap Game 5 and the series. We discuss how Harden is changing the script, Josh Smith’s huge impact, Dwight Howard putting the knee injury to bed, the possible end to Dirk’s Mavericks and the upcoming Western Conference Semifinals against the Spurs or Clippers.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
April 27, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Tyson Chandler threw a punch at Dwight Howard in Game 4

Tyson Chandler punches Dwight Howard

Things have been getting physical in this series between Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler. For the Mavericks center, it boiled over Sunday night.

Late in Game 4, Chandler responded to Dwight breaking off his arm hold with a punch to the back. The officials called a double technical, but the replay clearly shows that Chandler reared back with a closed fist and threw a punch at Howard.

According to the NBA rules on fouls and penalties:

Any player who throws a punch, whether it connects or not, has committed an unsportsmanlike act. He will be ejected immediately and suspended for a minimum of one game.

Given how important Chandler is to a team that plays almost no defense and the fact that their backs are to the wall, don’t look for the NBA to enforce the rule, but it’s clearly a punch and would merit a suspension under different circumstances.

Update 3:22pm: No surprise, but the NBA will not suspend Tyson Chandler for throwing this punch — he will play Tuesday night in Game 5. It sets an interesting precedent that teams could use in the future to potentially avoid suspensions. The reaction Chandler gets from Houston fans in Game 5 should be interesting.

Posted in Houston Rockets |