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Nets head to Houston in search of a win

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Things are, somehow, getting worse. The Brooklyn Nets were unable to get their first win of the season on Saturday night, losing 94-86 to the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Nets are now a league worst 0-7 on the season and will be on the road for two more games before returning to Brooklyn next week.

Waiting for Brooklyn will be the Houston Rockets. After a disastrous start that saw them make NBA history, the Rox have turned things around. The Rockets have also had a few days off after their last game. They beat the Clippers in LA on Saturday night and are now 4-3 on the season. Aside from two games vs the Grizzlies, the schedule is pretty light for the rest of November.


Brook Lopez left Saturday's game in Milwaukee with a sore right foot. If you'll recall, it's the same foot that has given him so much trouble in recent years. Fortunately for Brooklyn, X-rays came back negative. He's listed as probable for tonight's game.

Backup point guard Patrick Beverly has been dealing with a concussion over the past week and his status for tonight is unknown. Starting power forward Terrence Jones suffered a cut under his right eyelid recently and has been out of action for the past week. He returned to practice on Monday and is expected to play tonight. No word on how many minutes he'll be playing. Donatas Motiejunas is still dealing with the aftereffects of a back injury he suffered last year and we don't know when he'll be making his season debut.

The game

It was a pretty slow start to the season for James Harden. He shot under 30 percent during the Rockets first three games and dealt with an endless stream of jokes about Khloe Kardashian and the Based God curse. He told us not to worry about it, and he was right. Since the game against the Heat on November first, he's shot 46 percent from the field and has scored more than 40 points in his last two games. He presents so many matchup problems for the defense that your best bet is hoping that his shot isn't hitting from three point range or that he isn't baiting defenders into committing fouls. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will have the unenviable task of trying to keep Harden from scoring 40+ again. RHJ has been one of the team's three best players and is someone that can do a lot on the court even with a janky jumper.

A lot of people (still) hate him, but Dwight Howard really isn't all that bad. Howard has been dealing with a variety of injuries over the past four years, but even with that, he's been productive and remains Houston's second most important player. He had a 20/20 game against his former team on Friday and made crucial free throws late on Saturday. Dwight serves as the anchor to Houston's defense and he still does a good job of protecting the basket and snatching up defensive rebounds. He's also pretty fun more times than not:

Even as he deals with the foot scare, Lopez is going to have to carry Brooklyn. He's the Nets only reliable scoring option right now and can give Dwight trouble on the inside. I don't expect Brook to play a lot of minutes, so Thomas Robinson ought to get a little more playing time. It might be an overreaction thanks to the previous injuries, but the Nets should be as careful with Lopez as humanly possible. If he ended up missing an extended amount of time, it would end their season and make them damn near unwatchable.

With the Rockets frontcourt dealing with injuries, Kevin McHale has gone small. Former Net Marcus Thornton (who I didn't know was still in the league until recently) is starting alongside Trevor Ariza and Dwight. He's been pretty good as a small ball power forward, averaging close to 17 points a night while shooting 40 percent from three point range and 45 percent overall. His teammates are fans of his addition into the starting five and he figures to be in it until D-Mo returns.

This doesn't bode well for the Nets and their leaky three point defense. They've allowed teams to shoot 39.8 percent from deep, third highest in the league. And while the Rockets are only shooting 29.1 percent from downtown (fourth worst in the league; the Nets are the worst), they lead the league in attempts. If Houston starts hitting three pointers at the rate we're accustomed to and if the Nets three point drought continues, this game could get out of hand early.

Player to watch: Ty Lawson

After a summer that saw him get arrested (again) for DUI, Ty Lawson's days in Denver were numbered. The Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay and sent Lawson off to Houston for a bunch of spare parts. He's an upgrade over Lugz Beverly and provides another option from three point range for McHale and Daryl Morey. He doesn't have to take on a lot of responsibility here like he had to do with the Nuggets, and that will benefit him as the season progresses.

All eyes will be on Jarrett Jack for the Nets. Jack is second on the team in field goal attempts per game but has the fourth worst field goal percentage on the team. We say it all the time, but the team is at their worst when Jack is taking most of the shots. On a related note, the Nets are going to need Joe Johnson to break out of his slump and become the second leading scorer the team expected him to be.

From the Vault

Moses Malone passed away over the summer at the age of 60. He was one of the best and most important players in league history as he helped prove that high school players could successfully make the jump to the pros. He was also instrumental in Hakeem Olajuwon's development:

"I would never have accomplished what I did if I did not play against Moses at Fonde," Olajuwon said before his own Hall of Fame induction in 2008. "I knew the rules. I knew the basics of the game and what you were supposed to do. But he is the one that taught me how to do it.

"With Moses there were no rests, no breaks. He was working every time down the court — scoring, rebounding or just making you feel his body. He would laugh when he slammed into you. If you tried to take a breath, he went by you or over you. There was no stop."

Let's remember the good times and watch Moses take on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1981 Playoffs.

More reading: The Dream Shake