The NBA: Rocketeers

Chandler Parsons and the Rockets got back on the
winning track at the expense of the Nets.

*All images are from the Associated Press.

“It was big to us to get back to winning ways. Now, hopefully we can build on this." – Chandler Parsons after the Houston Rockets beat the New Jersey Nets

The Houston Rockets were on their way back to earth on the heels of a five-game slump when the New Jersey Nets happily went around to stop their skid.

The Nets missed their last five shots against Houston as the Rockets righted their course in time for a big win.

But they still have a ways to go before they can lock in one of the bottom 4 playoff seeds in the West.

They can start with their defense. The Rockets let the Nets shoot better than 53% from the field (with BOTH Brook Lopez and Deron Williams not playing). This after letting the Raptors shoot the lights out at a season-high 59% clip last March 8.

The silver lining, though, is that Houston isn’t the only Western team having problems. Minnesota looks to slide down after Ricky Rubio was diagnosed with an ACL tear. Portland continues to be inconsistent, and the Jazz are dealing with “internal issues” concerning Raja Bell.

The make-or-break thing for Houston down the road is how their roster will look after March 15. All-Star level guard Kyle Lowry has been making the rounds of the rumor mill as possible trade bait, but Houston officials have been quick to deny their desire to trade away their top PG. Luis Scola has also been a top target for trade-mongers, but the versatile forward continues to be a solid part of the inside combo with new center Samuel Dalembert.

If there’s a way to keep either one of those two bigs and get another big piece (literally or figuratively), then I think the Rockets will be in good shape for a deep playoff surprise, but, given all the circumstances they’re in, staying intact wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Houston did make a play for Pau Gasol in the offseason, and reports suggest he’s still on the Rockets’ wish list. For the Spaniard to relocate to Houston, however, a third team should be in the mix to be able to trade away a quality PG to the Lakers. But, again, even if Houston does land Gasol, it doesn’t necessarily make them stronger UNLESS they can find a way to keep Lowry and either Scola or Dalembert (preferably Scola).

The most tradable Rocket for me?

Kevin Martin.

An off-the-top-of-my-head plausible scenario? Maybe a three-way between HOU, LAL, and CHA? K-Mart and BOTH Troy Murphy & Josh McRoberts go to Charlotte, DJ Augustin and Scola go to LA, and Gasol with maybe Gerald Henderson both swing to Houston. Fair to all concerned? I think so. Or maybe HOU, LAL, and POR? K-Mart and maybe Metta World Peace with Troy Murphy can go to Oregon, Raymond Felton and Scola to LA, and perhaps Gasol and Gerald Wallace /Wesley Matthews to Houston. Fair, right?

But all that is pure, biased, speculation. (ha!) Right now the Rockets are overachieving. They’re tied for 7th in the West with the Mavs. They’re 1.5 games ahead of Minnesota and 2 full games ahead of the Blazers.

By all indications, these Rockets are “rocketeering” to the playoffs. And as a sentimental Rockets fan who loved the Hakeem Olajuwon days, I’m all smiles.

After the JUMP, March 10, 2012 stat-stuffers:

POR over WAS, 110-99
LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Trail Blazers to a win over the Wizards. Jamal Crawford added 23 points while Raymond Felton finished with 21 and 5 assists for Portland, which had dropped five of six overall and was coming off of Friday's blowout loss to the Celtics. John Wall had 25 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds to pace Washington, which had won two of three and entered Saturday's game on the heels of a comeback victory over the Lakers.

DET over TOR, 105-86
Six different Pistons scorers finished in double figures, led by Rodney Stuckey's 20 points, as Detroit cruised to a blowout of the Raptors. Brandon Knight added 19 points and 7 assists, while Jonas Jerebko and Jason Maxiell netted 13 and 12 to give Detroit its season-high fourth straight home victory. Andrea Bargnani returned for the first time since Jan. 25, scoring 8 points and Jerryd Bayless and Gary Forbes scored 12 apiece as Toronto dropped to 6-14 on the road this season.

MIA over IND, 93-91 (OT)
Dwyane Wade drained the game-winning jumper with 0.1 seconds left in overtime despite a lot of contact after LeBron James made a tying three in regulation, leading the Miami Heat to a win over the Indiana Pacers. Wade, who scored 28 points to lead all players, pump-faked Paul George into the air on the high left side and then leaned into the contact to draw a foul. One wasn't called, but Wade hit nothing but net anyway for the lead. James, often criticized for passing up shots down the stretch, gave the ball up on Miami's final play in regulation but ended up with it anyway in the right corner for a three-pointer that tied the game.

CHI over UTA, 111-97
Carlos Boozer had 27 points and Derrick Rose scored 24 with 13 assists  in leading the Chicago Bulls over the Utah Jazz. Kyle Korver made six three-pointers and scored 26 for the Bulls, who bounced back from a loss to Orlando on Thursday to win for the ninth time in their last 10 games. Paul Millsap scored 26 points to lead the Jazz, who have lost two in a row and three of five.

NOH over MIN, 95-89
Chris Kaman scored 20 points and pulled down 6 rebounds as the New Orleans Hornets outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jarrett Jack added 17 points to go with 7 assists as the Hornets salvaged a 1-3 record to wrap up a four-game road trip. The Timberwolves were playing without rookie sensation Ricky Rubio, who was lost for the season after tearing his ACL in his left knee late in Friday's loss to the Lakers. Minnesota dropped its second straight contest.

HOU over NJN, 112-106
The Nets' Gerald Green inadvertently tipped the ball into his own basket with 1:03 remaining, giving the Rockets a lead they would not relinquish. New Jersey held a 106-105 lead when Green, who finished with a season-high 26 points, tipped a Courtney Lee miss into the basket. Louis Scola was credited with the bucket and the Rockets scored the game's final seven points to halt a season-long five-game losing streak.

OKC over CHA, 122-95
James Harden scored a career-high 33 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats. Kevin Durant added 26 points and 7 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook contributed 23 points and 4 assists for the Thunder, who responded from Friday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers with their third win in four games. D.J. Augustin had 22 points and 7 assists for Charlotte, which dropped its third straight game and fell to a dismal 2-19 on the road this season.

PHX over MEM, 98-91
Jared Dudley scored 19 points as the Suns downed the Grizzlies. Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 9 rebounds, Grant Hill scored 14 and Steve Nash had 11 and 15 assists for the Suns, who have won five straight at home and seven of nine overall. Marc Gasol finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists while Rudy Gay scored 19 for the Grizzles. They had won five straight entering Saturday.

GSW over DAL, 111-87
David Lee scored 25 points and pulled down 9 rebounds as Golden State cruised over Dallas. Nate Robinson netted 21 and Monta Ellis added 20 points and 8 assists for the Warriors, who improved to 10-10 at home this season. Dirk Nowitzki paced the Mavericks with 22 points, while Jason Terry and Rodrigue Beaubois scored 15 and 12, respectively, as Dallas saw its road losing streak hit seven.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
James Harden (OKC) – 33
Kevin Love (MIN) – 31
LaMarcus Alrdridge (POR) – 30
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 28

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Kevin Love (MIN) – 16
Nikola Pekovic (MIN) & Udonis Haslem (MIA) – 11

Kevin Love and the T-Wolves immediately felt the absence
of Ricky Rubio against the Hornets.
Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Steve Nash (PHX) – 15
Derrick Rose (CHI) – 13
Luke Ridnour (MIN), Mike Conley (MEM), & Jamaal Tinsley (UTA) – 10

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Paul Millsap (UTA), LeBron James (MIA), & Paul George (IND) – 4

After a strong start to the season, the Utah Jazz
have suffered thru a dreadful dry spell.
Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
A LOT with 3!!!

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Kyle Korver (CHI) – 6
A LOT with 4!!!

March 10, 2012 First Five
C – LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 30pts, 10rebs, 3asts, 2blks, 1stl
F – Kevin Love (MIN) – 31pts, 16rebs, 1stl
F – Kyle Korver (CHI) – 26pts, 7rebs, 6asts, 6 treys, 1stl, 1blk
G – James Harden (OKC) – 33pts, 4 treys, 3asts, 1stl, 1blk
G – Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 28pts, 7asts, 4rebs, 1stl, 1blk

Kyle Korver hit 6 big threes as the Bulls
pulled one over the Jazz.
Honorable Mention:
Derrick Rose (CHI) – 24pts, 13asts, 2rebs, 1stl, 1blk
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 26pts, 7rebs, 2asts, 2blks, 1stl
Goran Dragic (HOU) – 23pts, 8asts, 5rebs, 4 treys, 1stl

Daily Zap:


*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Sports Network.
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