Houston Rockets vs Hornets: 2017-18 Game 26: Five things to watch

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 27: Dwight Howard
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 27: Dwight Howard /

The 21-4 Houston Rockets take their 10-game win streak back to their home court to take on the 10-16 up-and-down Charlotte Hornets in a late, prime-time match up for tonight.

The Houston Rockets’ dominance in this league goes to show that it doesn’t matter who their opponent is, it’s the fact that they can beat anybody is what makes this team special.  There’s always room for improvement but did you think we’d be this good?  I honestly thought we’d be right about where we were last season.  But this team has the potential to win over 60 games, certainly surpassing the franchise record of 58.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse and focus on the now.  The Hornets acquired now-journeyman Dwight Howard that still remains effective in the post.  But because of an offense that sometimes remains stagnant, they’re not winning games as they should.  They’re top-of-the-line defenders as well as extremely solid on the rebounding front but the name of the game is score more points than the other team and they’re just not doing that right now.

Nonetheless, this still should be an entertaining match up to watch:

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Hornets?

Kemba Walker holds the torch in points (22.5 PPG) and assists (6.2 APG).  Dwight Howard is holding it down with the boards (12.2 RPG) and is the top shot-blocker (1.3 BPG).  Michael Carter-Williams is in charge of the steals (1.0 SPG).

2.) Let’s talk about what the Hornets do well.

They’re solid defenders as a team.  The Hornets are ranked 10th — tied with the Miami Heat — in defensive efficiency, allowing 104.3 points per 100  possessions.

They are professionals at taking care of the basketball.  The Hornets are the No. 1 team in the NBA in turnover ratio, with just 12 percent of their possessions ending in a turnover.

They know how get after the boards.  The Hornets are ranked 8th — tied with the Boston Celtics — in rebound rate, taking down 51.5 percent of missed shots.  They’re also 2nd in defensive rebound rate (81.2).

They tend to use up a lot of possessions on offense.  The Hornets are ranked 9th in PACE, averaging 101.2 possessions per game.

3.) Injuries:

There are no injuries to report for the Houston Rockets other than the fact that rookie Zhou Qi is still reeling from a calf injury.  As you know, he’s currently not part of the rotation as he gets his

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feet wet but it’s good for you to know.

Nicolas Batum injured his elbow last week and has been sidelined since.  He has already been ruled as DOUBTFUL for tonight so it’s likely he won’t be available.

Cody Zeller had successful surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to miss up to six weeks.

Source(s): Mark Berman of FOX 26 (KRIV), Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Clint Capela vs. Dwight Howard
  2. Chris Paul vs. Kemba Walker
  3. Trevor Ariza vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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5.) Prediction:

110-99 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets are at home to take on the Hornets at Toyota Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Southwest/ESPN and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius 207, XM/SiriusXM 86 (Internet 890) and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.