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The Other Side: Houston Rockets


Wake me up when it is time to play, Tracy. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets are in first place in the Southwest Division, as some expected after they acquired Ron Artest last summer. But the reason the Rockets are on top has as much to do with division rivals New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas stumbling out of the gate as it does anything they've done on the court.

The Rockets have been far from overwhelming at 7-5, and they have been dealing with injuries and inconsistency much of the season. They are 4-5 after starting the season 3-0. Defensive ace Shane Battier has been out all season with inflammation in his left foot, but he has begun practicing recently. Yao Ming skipped Wednesday's loss to Dallas with a sore left foot and Tracy McGrady has been playing all season with a troublesome left knee. Artest is also playing through an ankle injury.

But the Wizards are the last team to be concerned about another team's injury woes, and the Rockets are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. They have five players averaging at least 10 points per game, and Rafer Alston is close to making it six at 9.7 points per game.

Here is what you need to know about the Rockets heading into tonight's game at Verizon Center:

1. Yao Ming Is Playing
With Yao missing the second half of the regular season and the playoffs with a broken left ankle and then playing for China in the Olympics this summer, the Rockets are being especially cautious with their all-star center this center. Yao is leading the Rockets in scoring (16.9 points) and rebounding (9.5 rebounds) this season, with the team spreading the wealth around offensively. He said he was able to play on his sore foot, but the team still sat him out against Dallas. He will be back on the floor against the Wizards.

Yao is also starring in a new commercial with Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley that you can check out here:


2. Steve Francis Is Out, Aaron Brooks Is In


No, Ron. I'm not the president. This is a Barack Obama jacket. I'm Steve Francis - your teammate! (AP Photo by Pat Sullivan)

Remember when he was the Franchise? Now he is just the inactive player. Former Maryland star Steve Francis has yet to play this season because of chronic knee and quad problems. His reunion in Houston has been far from harmonious. After signing a two-year deal with the Rockets last season, he has played just 10 games and missed most of last season with a torn quadriceps muscle. There is a chance the 31-year-old, former all-star guard has played his last game, but even if he were healthy, he'd have trouble cracking the guard rotation. He has kept himself in the news only through colorful sportcoats while sitting the bench.

At least the Rockets can turn to second year guard Aaron Brooks. The speedy, undersized guard has been a surprise this season, averaging 11.5 points off the bench. He scored 20 points in a loss to the Lakers, and came back the next game to score 19 in a win over Phoenix. He is averaging 13.6 points in his last six games.

3. Brent Barry Is Hooking People Up
Barry is proving his generosity this season by providing two tickets to random fans at every road game. Barry is basically finding fans that wait outside of the Rockets team hotels and giving them the chance to see the game for free. You can read about the fans who have benefited from Barry here.

By Michael Lee  |  November 21, 2008; 12:15 PM ET
 
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Next: Rockets at Wizards

Comments

Huh?

Did Gilby just pull a Jerry Stackhouse and suggest that Les BouleS should all just shut it down and hope they can draft the next generation Tim Duncan?

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/wizardsinsider/2008/11/you_tell_us_when_should_arenas.html

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 21, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Knicks are positioning themselves for the Lebron sweepstakes.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3717209

What are Les BouleS doing? More of the same, and that same ain't good.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 21, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

No Gilbert did not say that the Wizards should shut it down and call it a season. It is amazing how people can always find the negative in any given statement. I think he was trying to find a bright side in the event things go from bad to worse. He, as well as all of the rest of the true fans are hoping that the Wiz can right this ship before long.GO WIZ!

Posted by: ivyleague | November 21, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"No Gilbert did not say that the Wizards should shut it down and call it a season. It is amazing how people can always find the negative in any given statement. I think he was trying to find a bright side in the event things go from bad to worse. He, as well as all of the rest of the true fans are hoping that the Wiz can right this ship before long.GO WIZ!

Posted by: ivyleague | November 21, 2008 1:22 PM "

Which goes back to the main issue.

Why is Gilby busy yapping his gums when he's not even on the court yet?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 21, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

He, as well as all of the rest of the true fans are hoping that the Wiz can right this ship before long.GO WIZ!

Posted by: ivyleague | November 21, 2008 1:22 PM


what a dork. get real GUY. Les Boulez are the new Miami Freeze. We'll be lucky to win rotfl 15 games. Hibachi is out for the year.

Posted by: prescrunk | November 21, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

""If this is one of those years we don't make the playoffs, we're one of those teams that's in last place the whole year -- you know that's what happened to San Antonio and that's how they got Tim Duncan. If that happens with us, it's for the better.""

With Les BouleS's luck, they'll end up with another Kwame Brown (instead of Tyson Chandler), Hot Plate (instead of Karl Malone), Rasheed Wallace (gave up on too soon), or a Sam Bowie.

BTW, I think the year Les BouleS drafted Rasheed, they could have instead drafted Kevin Garnett.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 21, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I know he isn't the best fit for our offense but the wizards should trade for MARCUS WILLIAMS. GS never uses him and they just traded for crawford so they are loaded at guard. I bet we could get him really easy to I say offer pecherov for Marcus williams definitely would help until the Black Hole gets back.

Posted by: beas13 | November 21, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: prescrunk | November 21, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Augusta, Maine: From the box scores, Oleksiy Pecherov hasn't done a thing all season. How has he looked in person? Does he have an NBA future or did we blow a draft pick?

Michael Lee: In this case, the box score doesn't lie, my man. I wouldn't call it a blown pick because he was taken so late in the draft. Those guys are generally hit or miss. Right now, it looks like a miss if Pech is just going to a big jump shooter who isn't hitting shots. He's got to add more to his game, but you have to remember, he basically lost all of last year with that ankle."

Michael, what draft were you watching?

OPech was taken at #18 in the first round of the 2006 draft!!!

http://sports.espn.go.com/nbadraft/draft/tracker/histround?draftyear=2006

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 21, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I am so tired of trying to support the Wiz. I can't do it anymore, I give up.

They give out $100+MM contracts to over-rated players every several years and this drags them down. Terrible mgmt decisions.

If I learned anything from the financial markets lately, buy some puts on the Wiz.

Posted by: elgnel | November 21, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

At least one Wizard is top 5 on someone's list:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=BiggestDisappointments-081121

"5. Andray Blatche, Wizards Blatche looks just like the guy who was such a productive force off Washington's bench last season … except 20 pounds heavier and about an hour slower. With Blatche not in playing shape, the quickness advantage he used to have on opposing big men has disappeared, and with it his best shot at being a productive NBA player. Blatche's turnovers have ballooned almost as much as his weight, and his 7.11 PER is less than half his mark from last season.


His timing couldn't have been worse, either. With starting center Brendan Haywood expected to miss most or all of the season, Blatche had a great opportunity to claim a starting role and help the Wizards' playoff push. Instead, the 22-year-old forward has taken a major step backward, and so has his team.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 21, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Wow
1

The Knicks, at 6-5, are aggressively making moves, for better or worse, have gutted their team in hopes of improving for the long term.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/2008/11/21/2008-11-21_knicks_trade_jamal_crawford_for_al_harri.html

Les BouleS though, are 1-8 and content with status quo and more of the same.

Just because Groundhog Day was a blockbuster success doesn't mean Les BouleS have to live it. Sorry, it doesn't translate that way EG/Abe/EJ.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 21, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

looks like the knicks traded away both jamal crawford and zach randolph today, essentially for players who's contracts end after 2 seasons. while both of those player's haven issues here and there, i can't help but to think that either of them would help us out right now.

Posted by: segastyle | November 21, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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