News And Notes
Brooks reaggravates ankle sprain, Rockets prep for Portland
HOUSTON - It had been nearly a week since an ankle-related storyline had flown forth from the Rockets’ camp, so naturally we were long past due for a new, or at least recycled, development to make its way to the fore.
Enter Aaron Brooks, whose 2-week return from a severe ankle sprain has now been put on hold after re-aggravating the injury during Monday’s game against Denver. As a result, Brooks will not suit up tonight against Portland and will be listed as day-to-day going forward.
Brooks’ absence likely means a return to the active roster for rookie point guard Ish Smith, who has spent time on the inactive list ever since Brooks returned to action. Whether or not Smith actually sees time on the court, however, is less clear, since Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman has several options at his disposal for dealing with the loss of his fourth-year point guard. Adelman has shown faith in Courtney Lee’s ability to log minutes as a back-up point in the past and should Lee share the court with Brad Miller and the newly-acquired Terrence Williams, the Rockets would seemingly have more than enough playmakers with plus passing skills to get by.
No matter how Adelman decides to utilize the players at his disposal, there’s no denying the importance of tonight’s game against the Rockets’ Western Conference rivals from Portland. The Blazers and Rockets met just three nights ago, of course, with Portland cruising to a 100-85 win. And since the two clubs play each other only three times this season, a Blazers victory tonight would hand Portland what could be an all-important tiebreaker advantage over Houston, since both teams figure to be fighting for similar playoff position come April.
“It’s never too early to think about that,” says Kyle Lowry. “We definitely want this game tonight. It’s be huge to get it. We have three games against them (this season) and we have to get this win so we can possibly get the tiebreaker when we go back up there.”
In order for the Rockets to take care of business tonight, they’ll have to overcome the size advantage Portland possesses with giants like LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby patrolling the paint. So presuming no magic pill which sparks instantaneous vertical growth has yet to be approved by the FDA, Houston will have to counter the Blazers’ bigs with gang rebounding and improved discipline on the defensive end.
“You have to be really disciplined with your block outs and just really have to be disciplined with your coverages,” says Shane Battier. “If the perimeter allows penetration to the basket, our big guys have to step over, so all of a sudden out big guys have to block out guys like Camby and Aldridge which is tough to begin with. But if you stay solid with your principles and make them take a lot more jumpers, you have a better chance to getting the rebound. So it all starts with those fundamentals on defense.”