Houston (CBS Houston) – It’s All-Star break time. The Rockets are 36-17. Here are ten observations.
1. The Rockets got the Dwight Howard they paid for.
After Howard’s nightmare season in Los Angeles, many wondered if he would ever return to the dominating form once seen in Orlando. Howard has answered that question. During the Rockets seven game win streak he’s averaging 24.7 points and 12.1 rebounds.
2. It’s not just Patrick Beverley’s defense.
Beverley leads the team in +/- at +5.3 per game. His defense is a big part that, but his ability to keep the ball moving on offense is also a major factor. Unlike Jeremy Lin, Beverley doesn’t dominate the ball when running the offense. His ability to get them up the court and into their offense in a timely manner has been key in the first half of the season.
3. The Omer Asik sideshow has come full circle.
It started with the failed ‘twin towers, then it was open discontent, then a thigh contusion, then knee swelling. Now Asik appears to be back in the fold. When he’s dialed in, Asik is a big asset. When Asik is singing Cumbayá, the Rockets can blanket the floor with 48 minutes of above average rim protection every night. Not many teams have the tools to do that.
4. Terrence Jones.
Heading into the year the power forward position was up for grabs between him and Motiejunas. Jones has been nothing short of terrific. Since January 1st, Jones is averaging 14.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. Perhaps more impressive is the fact he’s doing it while shooting 54.7 percent from the field, that’s second only to Dwight Howard.
5. They’re still looking to replace Carlos Delfino’s productivity off the bench.
Last season the Rockets counted on Delfino for 25 minutes and 10.6 points per night. He could shoot the Rockets back into a game when they were down, or keep them pressing when they were up. Francisco Garcia has been in and out of the lineup with injuries averaging 5.7 points and 20 minutes a game. Omri Casspi started hot, but has seen his playing time dip as of late. He’s averaging 7.6 points and 19 minutes a game.
6. They’re cleaning up in the division and protecting home court.
The Rockets are 9-4 in the Southwest Division and have already secured the season series win against the Spurs. They also have 22 victories at home. Only the Clippers and Thunder have more with 23.
7. Is Donatas Motiejunas carving out a rotation spot?
With Greg Smith out and Asik’s status constantly in flux, it appears D-Mo has a spot in the rotation. Since January 1st, Motiejunas has averaged a respectable 7 points and 5 rebounds per game. His confidence is improving nightly, although his three point shot still needs some fine tuning. All things considered, his recent play has been a pleasant surprise.
8. Chandler Parsons just keeps getting better.
In three years Parsons has gone from points, rebounds, and assist averages of 9.5/4.8/2.1 in 2011-12, to 15.5/5.3/3.5 in 2012-13, to 17/5.6/3.7 this season. His continued and unrelenting growth will leave Daryl Morey with an interesting decision regarding his contract after the season.
9. Want the 2nd seed in the West? It’s available.
Just weeks ago, home court seemed like a stretch. But a timely win streak and the Spurs recent implosion against good teams make the two seed a real possibility. At the break, the Rockets are just two games back of the Spurs for the second seed in the west.
10. Morey is going to make a deal, right?
He’s made a move at every trade deadline in his young career. Could this be the year he stands pat? There doesn’t seem to be a blistering market for Asik and the Rockets are starting to get in a groove. Is that enough to keep Morey from tinkering? I have no idea.
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