Wednesday, December 19, 8:00 PM (EST) at Toyota Center, Houston, TX
12-13 (4th Atlantic, 9th East)
12-12 (3rd Southwest, 9th West)
TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM | Live Stats
NOTE: The Comcast Network HD is now on XFinity® Channel 856
by Warren Croxton
MATCHUP TO WATCH
G Jeremy Lin vs. G-F Evan Turner
Without recounting for the nth-million time the meteoric rise of Warrior-turned-Knick-turned-Rocket Jeremy Lin, we will take a look at a guard who has, frankly, come back to earth. Sharing much of Houston's ball-handling duties with playmaking combo guard James Harden, the Harvard alum has seen his scoring average dip from 14.6 PPG last season to 11.3 PPG this year. Despite his regression to the mean, Lin still remains a threat to go off on any given night. In his return to Madison Square Garden Monday night, he scored 22 points (9-15 FGM-A) and dished out eight assists, handing the Knicks their first home loss of the season.
In the absence of Jrue Holiday (left foot sprain), third-year swingman Evan Turner has taken on the brunt of his team's ball-handling duties. In three games without Holiday, the former second-overall pick has scored 55 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, and dished out 16 dimes. Turner is in the midst of a career-high 16 consecutive games with at least ten points scored. On the season, he is averaging 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game, putting him in elite comapany – only he, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant average at least 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists.
Last season, Jeremy Lin was such a difficult defensive assignment, because he could both finish at the rim and effectively score from midrange. This season, though, Lin is shooting just 26.9% from that 10-23 feet, after shooting 44.8% from that distance in 2011-12. Forcing the 6-3 guard to attempt shots outside the paint will be key in keeping him from repeating his performance from Monday night in New York – he went 8-of-8 in the paint and just 1-of-7 outside it; he scored 22 points in the game.
The Houston Rockets come enter Wednesday's game at 12-12 on the season, having just completed a brief two-game Atlantic Division road trip. After falling to the Toronto Raptors 96-103 Sunday night, Houston came back the following evening and handed the New York Knicks their first home loss of the season. The Rox feature 11 players that were not on their roster last season.
Using The Afterburners
After playing the team with the second-highest pace in the league, in Dallas Tuesday night, Philadelphia takes on the Rockets, who average 96.6 possessions per 48 minutes (the highest in the NBA). Houston ranks third in the league in scoring, averaging 104.0 points per contest. They have scored at least 90 points in 21 of their 24 games this season, including each of their last 19 games. The Kevin McHale-led squad has all five of their starters average double figures in scoring, led by James Harden (25.1 PPG).
A Subheadline Without A Rocket-related Pun!
Despite their high-powered offensive attack, Houston has struggled on the other end of the floor this season. They currently rank 29th in the league points allowed this season (103.7 PPG). Although some of that has to do with their aforementioned up-tempo style, the Rockets still only rank 20th in team defensive rating (106.0), a statistic that adjusts for pace. They also rank 23rd in opponent field-goal percentage (45.7%) and 25th in opponent three-point percentage (37.2%).
LAST TIME THEY MET
2/22/2012 – Houston 93, Philadelphia 87
Led by guard Kevin Martin’s 14 fourth-quarter points, the Houston Rockets handed the Sixers their fifth straight loss, winning 93-87. Luis Scola led all scorers with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic led the Sixers with 18 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Philadelphia’s bench outscored their starters 52-35 in the loss.