Suns Expecting Rockets' Best In Rematch
Battling against a 34-30 team that is not only looking for a little revenge but also playing for its postseason life, guard Kendall Marshall said Phoenix will need to slow down Houston’s effective offense to prevent the Rockets from launching to victory again.
“It starts with James Harden, you don’t want to just allow him to go off for 40 points,” the playmaker explained. “But not only do you have to focus on slowing him down as much as possible, you’ve also got to worry about their three-point shooters and their ability to score in transition.”
Currently, the Rockets not only lead the league in three-pointers made so far this season, but they are also first in points per game with an average of 106.8. As mentioned by Marshall, the focal point of that offense is none other than the former Arizona State standout, James Harden, but he isn’t alone in leading the charge.
“There are a lot of other guys on that team who are difficult to defend,” forward Jared Dudley told Suns.com. “They’ve got guys on that team who don’t need a lot of time to get their shots up, and when playing with someone like Harden, it only makes them better.”
After playing with the Rockets last season, Suns point guard Goran Dragic explained that it isn’t solely the players responsible for Houston’s offensive charge this season. Also playing a key part is the team’s head coach, Kevin McHale.
“He does a great job of making sure they space the floor, but he also makes sure guys know what their roles on the team are,” Dragic said. “It helps a lot for guys to know what their coach is looking for, and Kevin makes sure to sit with his players and discuss with them what their roles are.”
A HOMECOMING AFFAIR
Wednesday’s matchup not only marks a rematch against a team they defeated last weekend at US Airways Center but another opportunity for former Rockets – such as Goran Dragic, Marcus Morris, and Luis Scola – to face off against their former ballclub.
And while Scola probably won’t be donning a tacky tuxedo when he returns to Houston for the first time as an opponent, he did say that he’s looking forward to the affair nonetheless.
“It was a place where I spent a lot of time, and I’ll be happy to see some familiar faces,” the forward told Suns.com. “There are some emotions there when you’re playing your former team, but I’m just going to go out and try to make it as normal as possible.”
For Dragic, Wednesday’s game also marks his first time in Houston since leaving the organization this past offseason. And as the playmaker explained, the night will probably come with mixed emotions.
“It’ll feel good to see all of my ex-teammates and friends,” Dragic said. “But at the same time we have to remember that while we were able to defeat them at home in Phoenix, they’re probably going to be looking for a little payback this time in Houston.”
MEMORY ROAD FOR SAMPSON
As reported by Suns.com on Tuesday, the trip to Houston has stood out to Suns other than Dragic, Morris and Scola. Wednesday’s game also marked a return for the team’s development coach, Ralph Sampson, who helped lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1986.
“We had a lot of talent on that team,” Sampson said of a team built around both he and Hakeem Olajuwon. “You had players being added like Rodney McCray, Robert Reid, Lewis Lloyd and Mitchell Wiggins, which allowed us to get pretty good pretty quick.
“With (Olajuwon) we obviously knew we could do something special. After drafting him they looked to me to move over to power forward where I’d be a little bit freer to shoot outside. With him able to play his game inside, things worked out pretty well.”
At Wednesday's shootaround, former Rocket Marcus Morris joked with a Rockets trainer leaving the floor and asked him to bring him some water. The trainer laughed and told him he couldn't do that anymore before proceeding to ask Goran Dragic if he could grab anything for him.