Rockets Harden and Ariza visit Julius Randle in the hospital

This is something that you don’t see too often. Last night Lakers rookie Julius Randle broke his tibia in the game against the Houston Rockets. Randle was expected to have surgery this morning, but before the surgery even happened, the rookie received an unexpected visit from James Harden and Trevor Ariza to show some support. This was actually a pretty cool gesture. Randle is only 19-years old, so it has to be tough on him to get seriously injured during his very first regular season game. Randle was reportedly very appreciative that the Harden and Ariza took time out of their schedules to visit him. [h/t TMZ]

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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers 10/28/14: Video Highlights and Recap

Looking to rebound following last season’s dramatic playoff exit at the hands of Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, the Houston Rockets kicked off another season with hopes of improving around its star-studded core.

Chandler Parsons is gone, but Dwight Howard and James Harden remain, and the two All-Stars looked to start the season on the right foot against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Expectations aren’t high for the Lakers, but with Bryant at the helm, fans will believe the future Hall of Fame player can once again lead them to greatness.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Rockets rout Lakers 108-90 in Kobe’s return (Yahoo Sports)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle, right, sits on on a stretcher after Randle injured himself on a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

After Lakers rookie Julius Randle left his NBA debut strapped to a wheeled stretcher with a broken right leg, every player at Staples Center gained a sober perspective on the season opener. James Harden scored 32 points, Howard added 13 points and 11 rebounds before getting into an exchange with Bryant, and the Rockets spoiled Bryant’s return to the Lakers with a 108-90 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.


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Kobe Bryant Finds Wesley Johnson with Beautiful No-Look Pass Versus Rockets

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard Kobe Bryant is back.

In the second quarter of the Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Lakers season opener, Bryant drove just outside of the free-throw line before delivering a no-look bullet to teammate Wesley Johnson.

Johnson finished the play with an easy bucket.

Welcome back, Kobe.

[TNT]

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Is Dwight Howard Poised for an MVP-Caliber Season with the Houston Rockets?

The Houston Rockets will enter the 2014-15 NBA season with hopes of advancing deep into the Western Conference playoffs behind Dwight Howard and James Harden. Can the two superstars help the Rockets make a run?

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle joins Adam Lefkoe to give his forecast for the upcoming season in the video above.

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Rockets GM builds beyond ‘nerd’ talk

The Rockets had a tough offseason, but their statistics-loving leader isn’t rethinking his strategy.

      
 

 

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Rockets must stop wasting Dwight

Kevin McHale needs to put Dwight Howard and James Harden in position to succeed consistently.

      
 

 

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Tarik Black makes final cut for Houston Rockets roster

The Houston Rockets waived five players on Monday. It was the team’s final roster cut before the start of the season. Tarik Black was not one of those players.
Tarik Black is one of the 15 players on the Rockets’ opening day roster and he will serve as one of Dwight Howard’s backups at the center position.
Black averaged 6.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in 19 minutes per game in seven preseason games.
Black’s road to the NBA wasn’t easy. He went undrafted in this year’s NBA Draft after transferring to Kansas from Memphis for his final year of eligibility in the NCAA. He was then a training camp invitee. After performing well in training camp, he was offered a non-guranteed contract. Now he’s on the final roster for the Rockets.
The Rockets’ season opener is Tuesday night vs. the Los Angeles Lakers (9:30 CT on TNT).

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Breaking Down Houston Rockets’ Point Guard Position for 2014-15 Season

In the Rockets starting lineup, point guard certainly isn’t the strongest spot, but Houston does have some good depth at the position.

Last season, Patrick Beverley took over the starting job and has firmly solidified that role. The Rockets traded away Jeremy Lin this offseason, but they brought in Ish Smith to back Beverley up and also have their lone draft pick from two summers ago, Isaiah Canaan.

Clearly, James Harden and Dwight Howard are the stars of this team. Trevor Ariza at small forward is also a key contributor. Nevertheless, point guard play for the Rockets this year will still be a big factor in determining how well the team can play.

Let’s quickly look back on the point guard play for Houston last year and then preview how the position will fare in 2014-15.

 

Last Season (2013-14)

Coach Kevin McHale’s first big decision of the 2013-14 season was to start Beverley over Lin. The defensive-minded guard paired up more effectively alongside Harden in the backcourt.

Beverley had a good season last year, despite missing a good chunk of games with a knee injury. His hustle on defense earned him second-team All-NBA defensive honors, and he was also a leader who brought mental toughness in the locker room.

Lin also had a productive season. Coming off the bench, he averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists per game. He was effective at creating offense in the second unit for Houston and often times played down the stretch in close games.

Lastly, the Rockets had Aaron Brooks as a third-stringer before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets at the deadline. Before his departure, Brooks had the highest three-point percentage on the team, and he earned some quality minutes while Lin and Beverley dealt with injuries.

It was a solid campaign during the regular season for the Rocket point guards, but unfortunately, they did not carry that success into the playoffs. Beverley was still hurt and could not contain the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard. Lin had a spectacular Game 5, an elimination game for the Rockets, but he committed some costly mistakes in big moments that Houston just could not afford.

Overall Grade: B-

 

This Season (2014-15)

Lin may be gone, but Beverley is still the starter, and he has been able to nurse his knee back to health over the offseason. Canaan is coming off a great summer in Las Vegas, and Smith was very serviceable last season in Phoenix.

 

Patrick Beverley

Beverley is the obvious starter for the Rockets at the point. He’s a top-tier defender among guards in the NBA and fits nicely next to Harden in the Rockets’ system.

Last year, Bev averaged 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He was a defensive nightmare for opposing guards, which landed him a spot on the All-NBA defensive second team. He’s got an excellent chance of doing the same this upcoming season.

Beverley’s offense isn’t anything special, but he is a good partner in the backcourt with Harden. The Beard likes to do the majority of the ball-handling anyway, so Bev can play off the ball. He doesn’t get many assists, but that’s as a result of the system, which usually features Harden facilitating the offense.

His best contribution on the offensive end is his three-point shooting. He shot 36.1 percent from beyond the arc last year, but this season, Beverley should be able to improve. In the preseason, he connected on 45 percent of his shots from deep, a much better clip.

As long as he stays healthy, it should be another solid season for Bev. If he can keep up the three-point percentage and tenacious defense, then the Rockets will certainly end up getting their money’s worth.

 

Isaiah Canaan

After spending the majority of his time in the D-League last season, Canaan is poised to get some NBA minutes in 2014-15. His successful stint in Rio Grande got a lot of attention, and now that Lin is gone, Canaan could potentially be the primary backup.

In limited minutes, Canaan averaged 10.4 points per game in the preseason. Unlike Beverley, Canaan is a score-first guard. He will be counted on to provide some bench scoring like Lin did last season. He can attack the basket successfully like Lin but also is a much better three-point shooter. During the preseason, he shot 50 percent from behind the arc.

Interestingly, for much of the preseason, Canaan did not get the majority of the backup minutes. Instead, Ish Smith played with the second unit; Canaan didn’t check in until late in the games. However, as a result, Canaan has played in some tight games down the stretch, and he has led the Rockets to a handful of wins in crunch time. As it turns out, Canaan has been spectacular in the fourth quarter all preseason long with several clutch plays.

Last year, McHale liked to play Lin down the stretch of several games. This season, Canaan could be a legitimate option late in games. He has the scoring ability and the clutch factor to make an impact.

 

Ish Smith

Throughout the preseason, Smith has gotten slightly more minutes than Canaan. McHale was probably leaning toward Smith to be his backup, but based on Canaan’s preseason performance, we’ll have to wait before a final decision is made. McHale will continue to experiment with the rotation even during the beginning of the regular season.

Smith’s game is a lot more like Beverley’s. He is a defensive-minded guard with tremendous speed and great awareness. He can facilitate the offense better than Bev but is hardly a scoring threat. He is a capable passer but has no discernible jump shot.

Smith and Canaan will fight for minutes behind Beverley. They serve different purposes, so they should each see ample opportunities in varying situations.

 

Final Thoughts

Beverley is undoubtedly the starter at point guard for the Rockets. His forceful defending and improved three-point shooting will play a pivotal role in the Rockets’ success this season.

Canaan and Smith could easily switch off as the backup point guard depending on the matchups against certain teams. Canaan can ignite the offense, while Smith can maintain Bev‘s defensive hustle. They both are pretty much locks to get on the plane to L.A. as part of the final roster.

Point guard is not the Rockets’ biggest strength, but they have three good options on the depth chart.

Grade Prediction: B

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7 Bold Predictions for the Houston Rockets During 2014-15 Season

The Houston Rockets are preparing to launch their regular season, the fans are ready to watch in enthusiasm and the analysts are ready to predict what happens. What is in store for Clutch City?

Will they be surprisingly good, shockingly bad or about what we expect them to be? Will they regret the departure of Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, or will Trevor Ariza make a big enough impact to offset their loss?

Here are seven bold predictions for the Rockets’ season. They are ranked in order of the entirely subjective aspect of “boldness” with the more eyebrow-raising projections at the top.

Begin Slideshow

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