Houston Rockets(34-29) vs. Phoenix Suns(21-41) Preview

Feb 3, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) takes a shot over Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) in the first quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are set to take on the Houston Rockets tonight in what would be the first meeting between these two teams this season, in fact the Suns and Rockets are set to face off against each other three more times after tonight.

“With Gortat and Jermaine out, those two guys are our anchors and they really support us down low defensively,” coach Lindsey Hunter said. “But we can’t talk about what we don’t have. One of our favorite phrases is no excuses and the next guy has to step up. So we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”

Going into tonight’s game, the Rockets are the favorites by a 6.5 point margin according to ESPN.com. The Suns will continue to be without Jermaine O’Neal who’s not expected to be back with the team until at least Monday. Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris are all listed as day-to-day however all three guys are expected to play; Marcin Gortat is out with a sprained right foot. The Rockets are currently injury free.

Keys to the game: Suns

  • Defend the three-point line! The Rockets are a full-on gunning team from beyond the arc. The Rockets are ranked second in the NBA this season in three-pointers made per game at 10.7 behind only the New York Knicks.
  • Pick and roll defense. The Rockets offense is predicated upon pick and rolls, and with James Harden being the lead trigger man, the Houston pick and rolls are tough to contain.

Keys to the game: Rockets

  • Play the passing lanes with aggression. The Phoenix Suns are a sloppy team, they commit over 15 turnovers per game on average. If the Rockets are aggressive in the passing lanes they’re bound to pick off a few lazy passes which would lead to easy scores.
  • Turnovers. As poorly as the Suns take care of the ball, the Rockets are the league’s worst. Houston ranks 30th in the turnover category. The Rockets may be a better team than the Suns but if Houston turns it over 20 times tonight they could easily leave Phoenix tomorrow night with a big fat L.

The X-Factor! 

  • Fatigue. Tonight’s game between the Suns and Rockets will be the second game of a back-to-back for both squads.

Match-up of the night! 

  • China vs. Slovenia! Jeremy Lin vs. Goran Dragic! Gragic played a phenomenal game last night recording 17 points, 16 assists and 5 steals! Lin has been relatively inconsistent throughout the season but when he’s on, he can take over a game. For example, after Lin scored 38 points against the Spurs earlier this season, he would go on to score just 22 total points over his next three games.

Topics: Houston Rockets, NBA, Phoenix Suns

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