Southwest Division Roundup: Here Comes The Rockets

SOUTH-WEST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK L10
San Antonio 22 8 .733 11-2 11-6 6-0 12-6 104.9 97.0 +7.9 Won 3 6-4
Memphis 18 8 .692 2 12-3 6-5 3-2 9-6 95.7 90.8 +4.8 Lost 2 5-5
Houston 16 12 .571 5 11-5 5-7 2-4 5-10 105.3 102.5 +2.8 Won 5 7-3
Dallas 12 17 .414 9 ½ 8-4 4-13 1-2 5-9 99.2 102.8 -3.6 Lost 4 3-7
New Orleans 6 22 .214 15 3-11 3-11 0-4 2-15 91.2 97.4 -6.2 Won 1 1-9


San Antonio:
Last Weeks Games: 3-0
1. Win vs. New Orleans 99-94
2. Win vs. Dallas 129-91
3. Win vs. Toronto 100-80

Upcoming Games: Projected Record: 3-2
1. Tonight vs. Houston 8:30 EST
2. Dec 30th @ Dallas 7:30
3. Dec 31st vs. Brooklyn 7:00
4. Jan 2nd @ Milwaukee 8:00
5. Jan 3rd @ NY Knicks 7:30

San Antonio feasted on inferior competition this week, rebounding from it’s dismal previous week. While wins against New Orleans and the streaking Raptors were very much expected if not a sure thing, the Mavs, at least on paper looked to be there toughest test of the previous week.  The Spurs absolute dismantled Dallas, winning by 38 points.  

The Spurs continue to win with a balanced attack unlike any other team.  In the three wins, the team had different high scorers and rebounders in all three games.  For the season, the Spurs have 6 players averaging double digits and Tiago Splitter at 9.4.   While this team looked bad last week, I  have renewed faith that this is the team to beat in the division.  I’d like to see them win 4 games this next week (I think they win only 3) and take down some better competition before I’m completely convinced they are true contenders.

Memphis:
Last Weeks Games: 1-2
1. Win vs. Dallas 92-82
2. Loss @ Houston 121-96
3. Loss vs. Phili 99-89

Upcoming Games:
1. Dec 29th vs. Denver 8:00
2. Dec 31st @ Indiana 3:00
3. Jan 2nd vs. Boston 7:30

This was not Memphis’ best week.  After showing a great defensive effort in smothering Dallas en route to a 10 point win, Memphis ran into the red hot Houston Rockets.  Memphis committed 19 turnovers in that game and made only 2 of 13 three point attempts.  The Rockets absolutely dominated the fast break, outscoring Memphis 33-3. While Memphis continues to be an excellent rebounding team with their huge front line of Gasol and Randolph, they don’t have terrific athletes up front that can keep up with what smaller teams throw out.  Memphis needs to slow the game down and rely on their on ball defense causing pressure and therefore turnovers or poor shots.  Memphis lost again in Phili, but this was mostly a game of Memphis not hitting it’s jumpers and also missing star Rudy Gay.  Gay missed the game due to “a bad travel day”.  What a strange excuse, let’s wait and see if there is any blowback from it, but Gay said in his return to practice yesterday, “I didn’t intend for that to happen. I would never abandon my teammates”.

Houston:

Last Weeks Games: 3-0
1. Win vs. Memphis 121-96
2. Win @ Chicago 120-97
3. Win @ Minny 87-84

Upcoming Games:
1. Tonight @ San Antonio 8:30
2. Dec 29th @ OKC 8:00
3. Dec 31st vs. Atlanta 7:00
4.  Jan 2nd vs. New Orleans 8:00

The BIG story of the week in the southwest division, was the dominant performances of the Houston Rockets. Clutch City was represented well as Houston won 3 games against quality opponents.  Houston dismantled Memphis, forcing 19 turnovers allowing them to do what they do best: Run. As mentioned above, Houston outscored Memphis by 30 points on the fast break. The Rockets followed up that game with yet another enormous victory on Christmas day beating Chicago by 23 and doing so while wearing the ugliest uniforms displayed on Xmas (sorry Rocket fans, those ugly gray unis were the worst of the Xmas day bunch). The win, 23 points, could have easily been 30.  Chicago was outclassed in all phases of the game.  I know I’ve said it many time so far this year, but Chandler Parsons is a beast. He has incredible energy to go along with his high skill level.  I love this kids game.  

Lastly, they took down Minny by 3, displaying defense in this effort.  James Harden and Jeremy Lin look to finally be in-sync with each other, making them one of the most dangerous backcourts in the game.  They spread the court in the half-court game and they can get out and run like few backcourt combos have been able to do in NBA history.  I really like this team and what Kevin McHale is doing.  Also to note, in the previous 4 wins, Omer Asik is averaging 15 points and 15.4 rebounds. I know they won’t win it all this year, but I think they may only be a piece away from challenging for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Dallas:
Last Weeks Games: 0-4
1. Loss  vs. Miami 110-95
2. Loss @ Memphis 92-82
3. Loss @ San Antonio 129-91
4. Loss @ OKC 111-105 OT

Upcoming Games: Projected Record: 1-3
1. Tonight vs. Denver 8:30
2. Dec 30th vs. San Antonio 7:30
3. Jan 1st @ Washington 6:00
4. Jan 2nd @ Miami 7:30

Yikes, a terrible week for Dallas in dropping all 4 of its games.  Sure, they played some of the best in the NBA, but they looked terrible in doing so.  The only game they were truly competitive in was the OKC loss and it took a Darren Collison miracle shot to send them into OT.  I have nothing nice to say about this team right now, but enjoy this Collison clip if you missed it.



New Orleans:
Last Weeks Games: 1-2
1. Loss @ San Antonio 99-94
2. Loss vs. Indiana 81-75
3. Win @ Orlando 97-94

Upcoming Games:
1. Tonight vs. Toronto 8:00
2. Dec 29th @ Charlotte 7:00
3. Jan 1st vs. Atlanta 8:00
4. Jan 2nd @ Houston 8:00

At least they won a game.  The western conferences worst team (yes, worse than Sacramento) managed to win its 6th game against an under-performing Indiana bunch. The three great pieces of news for New Orleans is the great play from Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez and, Greivis Vasquez.  Since I’ve gushed over Davis at length previously, I wont talk about him here, but I think we need to recognize what his two teammates are doing.  Vasquez is 5th in the NBA in assists, and is shooting nearly 45% during the teams past 5 games, showing great improvement from the rest of his season.  Vasquez is a poor defender and I personally dislike his game, but i must admit he’s playing well.  Then there is Robin Lopez. The career 6.5 points per game scorer, is averaging 12.3 points and over 2 blocks.  In the win against Indiana, Lopez looked like his brother Brook, in dropping a season high 29 points, this after scoring 24 the previous game. Lopez is average 18.8 and 7.4 in his last 5.  He is a contender for most improved player this season, although there are some pretty strong contenders this season. It’s nice to see his improvement on the glass as well as in the scoring department.

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