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Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets preview: Nets look for a much needed win

Houston Rockets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The close losses might hurt the most. The Brooklyn Nets ha a chance to get a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They had their chances, but couldn’t get over the hump and suffered another tough home defeat. At 17-27, the season is slipping away fast.

The opponent tonight is trying to keep things heading in the right direction. The Houston Rockets have been one of the more pleasant surprises in the NBA and have a pretty bright future. Of course, their brightness is helped in large part by the Nets’ darkness, but those are the breaks! Houston helped their play-in cause by obliterating the Charlotte Hornets last night. It was a two point game at half, and ended up outscoring them by 32 points. Goodness.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 6:00 p.m. ET

Injuries

No Day’Ron Sharpe or Dariq Whitehead. And in a late scratch, Cam Johnson is out for “personal reasons,” not further described. Ben Simmons is set to practice for the Long Island Nets Saturday and could return on Monday night vs. the Jazz. He last played on November 6, the Nets sixth game.

No Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, or Victor Oladipo. Night two of a back-to-back so we’ll see if Reggie Bullock and Jae’Sean Tate suit up.

The game

Houston won the first game.

Nic Claxton loves to face off against the league’s best centers, and he’ll have another fun battle on his hands tonight. Alperen Sengun has a pretty decent case to be named to the Western Conference All Star team. Big Goon had another solid night at the office last night with 11/7/6 in just 25 minutes. When you’re able to rest your big guy on the front end of a b2b, it gives you a better chance of competing on the back end. It’ll be interesting to see how Ime Udoka makes use of the big guy. Over at The Dream Shake, James Pearcey wrote:

“Surely, his ability to pass hasn’t gotten worse. It’s more difficult to make passing reads out of the pick and roll than it is from drawing a double team on the low block. It does feel fair to say that Sengun’s passing creativity is lapping his processing speed. He can make any read in the book, but he doesn’t always make them quickly enough.

On the other hand, the spacing around him is frequently poor. This team isn’t built to maximize Sengun. We’ll see if that changes after the deadline.”

And when you have someone who can make passes like this, buckle up

Claxton has been.

Cam Johnson is trying to find his way back. CJ came into Thursday’s game dealing with a shoulder contusion, but he toughed it out and played. He played a season low 21 minutes and found himself on the bench for much of the night. The Nets rely so much on their 3-point shooting, and Johnson is essential to that. If he isn’t playing, it becomes a lot harder for the Nets to succeed. This matchup in particular is tough for the Nets as the Rockets hold teams to 34.4% from beyond 3-point range, third lowest in the league.

Cam Thomas continues to add to his case for more playing time. CT served as a spark for the Nets offense and his 25 points led the team and kept them afloat while he was on the court.

Player to watch: Jalen Green

Young players have a steep learning curve, especially now with patience for development decreasing by the day. Players have to show enough progress early so teams and fans can begin to think about the future and the next steps. For Jalen Green, his early struggles have caused Rockets fans to wonder if he is the right player to help get them back to contention. However, he’s coming into this one riding a bit of a hot streak. Over the last two games, he’s shot 24-of-44 from the field and has played good ball. Could this be the run that finally allows him to be a solid player night in and night out? We’ll see.

Mikal Bridges will try to bounce back from a rough ending to the game on Thursday. Bridges had a chance to send the game to overtime, but missed two free throws late. We’ve talked about bouncing back from tough defeats, and Bridges will need to get the memory of that loss out of his mind quickly. He and the Nets can’t afford to wallow in their circumstances. Now’s as good a time as any to get a win. And with a team actively hoping you lose so they get a higher draft pick, a win tonight would make that Houston goal a bit tougher to reach.

From the Vault

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for the ROYAL RUMBLE!!!!!

More reading: The Dream Shake, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Space City Scoop