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Nets play the Rockets in Houston

NBA: New York Knicks at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

That’s a good way to start a road trip. The Brooklyn Nets took a trip to Memphis hoping to end their three game losing streak and push the Grizzlies’ losing streak to eight. Brooklyn got the job done and came away with a ten point victory. They’ve got one more game to go on this brief three game road trip before heading back home.

The opponent tonight will be the Houston Rockets. It’s been a banner year for the Rockets as they’ve gotten off to a sensational start and find themselves atop the Western Conference. They fell behind by 20 points early against the Knicks on Saturday night, but that didn’t prove to be much of a problem as they cleaned NY up and pushed their winning streak to four with a 15 point win.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off after 8 PM.


Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had to leave yesterday’s game due to a right ankle sprain. He’s out. Allen Crabbe was a late scratch due to a back injury. He’s out. DeMarre Carroll has an upper respiratory condition. He’s questionable. And of course, D’Angelo Russell is still out and Jeremy Lin is out for the season.

Nene is dealing with a right shoulder strain and will not play tonight,.

The game

It’s one thing to win. It’s another to blow teams out in the process. The Rockets have outscored teams by ten points per 100 possessions, second best in the league this season. Those blowout wins will reduce the amount of minutes the big guns play and in turn, keep them fresh for the playoffs when rotations shorten.

Leading the way for the Rockets is the early favorite for MVP. James Harden has followed up a top three MVP finish last year and is even better this year. He’s shooting a career high 39.4 percent from three point range and leads the league in scoring and assists. Most importantly, he’s been turning the ball over a lot less than he did last year. With the extra possessions and improved roster around him, it makes Harden an even more difficult player to defend. Assuming Crabbe is out, Joe Harris, Caris Levert, and Sean Kilpatrick will be matched up against Harden. Harris’ three point shooting has been incredibly valuable for the Nets will come in handy tonight against one of the best three point shooting teams in the league. Kilpatrick has been reincorporated back into the rotation over the past week and is in line to go 20+ minutes again tonight. Levert continues to run the offense off the bench and will face a good test when he has to guard Eric Gordon.

In surprising news, our old friend Ryan Anderson has been doing a good job on defense this year. Don’t believe me? Let Darren Yuvan of The Dream Shake explain:

Defense, more than any other part of basketball, is about attitude, it’s about belief, and it’s about teamwork. Sure, there are physical limitations in the athletic department when it comes to defending for Anderson, but this Rockets team is growing past the automatic label of offensive juggernaut, and Ryno has been a huge part of that so far this season. They may not get stops all the time, but they’ve been able to buckle down and get the stops that they need.

You combine this renewed desire on the defensive end, some new faces who add perfectly to the rugged attitude the Rockets are trying to cultivate, and throw in there a former defensive weak link in Anderson who’s both bought in to the culture and has made real, quantifiable physical changes to himself in an effort to improve on that end of the court, and you have a Rockets team that, with just a little bit more work and improvement, can soon be an elite offensive and defensive squad.

If they can continue playing top ten defense, they’ll have a great chance at beating the Warriors in the playoffs.

This one’s gonna be fast. Both teams are top ten in pace (Brooklyn first, Houston eighth) and top two in three point attempts (Houston first with Brooklyn second).

Player to watch: Chris Paul

If you were worried about how CP3 would fit in D’Antoni’s offense, you don’t need to worry anymore. In the four games he’s been back after suffering an Opening Night knee injury, Paul has handed out 41 assists to only six turnovers. CP3 has also seen his minutes gradually increase in each game so he should be solidly in the mid 30s by the middle of December. In addition to being great in his own right, having Paul will lessen the workload for Harden and help him conserve energy for the playoffs.

Spencer Dinwiddie will be assigned to CP3 this evening. He’s coming off a subpar game in Memphis, but has done a great job filling in for D’Angelo Russell. He’s been great at limiting his turnovers and that will be crucial as the Rockets are tied for fifth in points off of turnovers.

From the Vault

On Saturday evening, Steve “Snapper” Jones passed away at the age of 75. With that in mind, take a trip back to 1997 and revisit a great moment in Rockets history that featured Snapper on commentary

And to take us home, here’s Bill Walton talking about Snapper.

More reading: The Dream Shake