Blazer Banter

The Scouting Report: Houston Rockets

In an attempt to help you get to know the Blazers opponent each night, we are going to post a little bit of a scouting report of each team on the blog before each game. Tuesday’s (November 5th) opponent will be the Houston Rockets. Tip-off will be at 7 P.M at the Moda Center and it will be shown locally on CSNNW. For those out of market, the NBA League Pass free preview’s final day is tonight. It will be available on radio on 620 AM. 

Projected starting line-up: Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Dwight Howard, Omer Asik

New faces: Dwight Howard (free agency from Lakers) Omri Casspi (free agency from Cleveland) and Ronnie Brewer (free agency from Oklahoma City)

Key injuries: Patrick Beverley who won the starting point guard job in training camp is out 1-2 weeks with a torn abdominal muscle.

The NBA’s winners of the summer come to the Rose City looking to bounce back from a tough loss last night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Dwight Howard, James Harden and co. have started the season 3-1 and last night, in their first game against a top foe, they struggled to get stops of any kind. The Clippers dropped 137 points on the Rockets last night and Dwight Howard had his least effective game so far this season, as he was hampered by foul trouble and only played 26 minutes and had nine rebounds.

Before the game Howard was averaging 17 rebounds per game.

In addition to Howard’s rough night, James Harden scored 15 points on 6-16 shooting. With both guys having off nights, you’d think they will bounce back.

As far as personnel, Terry Stotts summed up what they do pretty well.

“They pose a problem because 25 percent of the time they have those big guys (Howard and Asik) on the court. The other 70 percent or so is a lot of spacing and they present a challenge,” he said.

When Howard and Asik aren’t in the game together, expect lots of this:

Houston's spacing

Houston’s spacing

Portland will be presented with a number of challenges tonight from Houston.

The Blazers have emphasized forcing midrange jumpers from their opponent and have done well in doing that so far, forcing the fifth most midrange jumpers per game from their opponents. Houston averages 7.3 midrange jumpers a game, a mark that is the lowest in the league by nine shots per game, which is pretty remarkable.

The Rockets are dedicated to pick and rolls, threes, shots at the rim, free-throws and thus far they are also fifth in the league in offensive rebound rate, a metric that measures the amount of available offensive rebounds gathered by a a team.

Thus far, Portland is allowing the second most offensive rebounds per 48 minutes in the league.

Without Beverley, the Rockets lose physicality and quickness at the defensive end at the point guard spot and Aaron Brooks is now their back-up point guard behind Jeremy Lin.

The Rockets should come into Portland frustrated and hungry to get a win after getting embarrassed a little bit last night in Los Angeles. They let the Clippers shoot 38 threes on the night and looked uninspired defensively.

One bright spot for the Rockets was the play of Omri Casspi, who has been converted into a stretch-four power forward for this Rockets team, scoring 19 points off the bench.

If the Rockets are the type of team they want to be, a team with aspirations to compete for a Western Conference title and beyond, they shouldn’t turn in two stinkers in a row.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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