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Wednesday February 24, 2010 10:38 AM

Running Mates


Brooks and Martin eager to begin new backcourt era in Houston

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer

HOUSTON - Some people just click right away. Conversation comes easily, laughter arrives in abundance and a smorgasbord of smiles is shared as both parties expertly play off the verbal and non-verbal cues the other is giving off.

Others, however, are slower to mesh, slower to locate common ground. Communication can seem a little (or even a lot) forced. Words of any kind come at a premium and seemingly nothing ensues without a struggle of some sort.

We call it chemistry; that unseen, impossible to quantify force that initially draws us to some and repels from others. It can be immensely powerful and though you can never quite put your finger on it, you certainly know it when you see it in action.

Thing is, just because a certain chemistry immediately exists doesn't mean it has any intention of sticking around for long. Likewise, there's no guarantee it won't belatedly come tapping at your door with a vengeance should it not make itself present at the moment of first contact. This isn't the world of US Weekly, where one can tell within the first 5 minutes of meeting another whether they're destined to become BFFs or frenemies. For better or worse, life just isn't that simple.

The same is true, of course, on the basketball court. Some players seemingly fit together like long lost puzzle pieces right away, while others comparatively clash during their initial minutes together on the floor. Yet while it's tempting to draw immediate conclusions, doing so with such a limited sample size is never a good idea. Like any other relationship, on-court chemistry simply takes time to suss out and determine – an important fact to bear in mind when the Rockets trot out their brand new starting backcourt combination of Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin for the first of what figures to be many times Wednesday night.

"As we get familiar with each other, we'll learn where each other likes to get the ball on the court," says the newly acquired Martin. "He'll know where my sweet spots are. But forming a new backcourt combination and the chemistry that comes with it just takes time."

Clearly, then, patience will be the order of the day while watching these two incredibly gifted offensive players begin the process of getting to know one another on and off the court. But half the fun of sports lies in the speculation of what's to come and here even Martin himself provided a very small clue as to what fans might be able to expect – or at least hope for – when he and Brooks begin to develop a certain level of familiarity with one another.

During his introductory press conference in front of the Houston media, the Western Carolina product mentioned that the opportunity to pair with Brooks reminded him of his days in Sacramento playing with former Kings point guard Mike Bibby. It's an interesting comparison because many of Bibby's numbers during the 2006-07 season – his last as a King and Martin's first as a full-time player – mirror those possessed by Brooks this season. Their scoring and assist rates are very similar, while Brooks ranks as the slightly superior shooter who has the ball in his hands a bit more and is a little more turnover prone.

And what we subsequently find when examining Martin's numbers from that 06-07 season are career-highs (as a starter) in shooting percentages from all over the field, save from 3-point land where, it should be noted, he was no slouch either, draining more than 38 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Add that to the list of reasons why Houston's front office is so excited by the potential of a Brooks-Martin backcourt. To be sure, Brooks and Bibby are not mirror images of each other – and certainly other factors enter into the equation (teammates, systems, etc.) – but we're simply looking for hints and clues here, not "take it to the bank" certainties and absolutes, and this simply serves as another small slice of data which furthers the theory that Martin figures only to benefit from Brooks' penetrate and kick game, while defenses that overcommit to preventing Martin from torching them will only leave themselves vulnerable to AB's deadly shooting touch from deep.

"As scorers, we'll relieve pressure off each other," says Martin. "I'm used to a lot of people loading up on me and when I come off curls having their guy go all the way over – but with Aaron you can't do that because I'll dish it right back to him and he's a high percentage 3-point shooter who will make them pay."

Adds Brooks: "We're two high energy guys who can run the floor and get some easy transition buckets. He's a nice running mate, that's what I think about. He's one of those guys who can extend the floor, extend the defense and get us easy shots.

"I just tell him to play his game. He's been very successful in this league. I've had the opportunity to play with a lot of guards in the backcourt, so personally I feel like I can adapt to pretty much anybody. So he just needs to play his game and we'll find out what each other can do throughout the season. But we don't want him to get away from what made him successful because what he does well is only going to help us out in the long run. So we've got to figure out how we can work together to make the team better."

Martin and Brooks. Brooks and Martin. The ball is now in their hands. It's a pairing positively bursting with potential; the possibilities utterly tantalizing. Will it work? Will that mysterious, elusive presence known as chemistry bestow its gift upon them?

As with everything, it's all just a matter of time.

And 1s: Trevor Ariza underwent an MRI Monday at the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute that confirmed a severe left hip pointer.  Ariza originally suffered the injury on February 6th against the Philadelphia 76ers and missed one game before returning to action following the All-Star break.  Ariza re-aggravated the injury again on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers.  He is expected to miss the next three games and will be re-evaluated early next week... Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced Tuesday that the team has recalled guard Jermaine Taylor from Houston's single-affiliation NBA D-League partner Rio Grande Valley. Taylor was re-assigned to the Vipers on February 19. Taylor (6-4, 210, Central Florida) has averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.00 steals in six games (two starts) with the Vipers. In his first stint with Rio Grande Valley, Taylor posted back-to-back 30-point outings at Albuquerque (30 points on 2/2/10 and 32 points on 2/3/10). A rookie out of Central Florida, Taylor has averaged 2.6 points and 0.2 assists in 17 games with the Rockets this season.

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