Stats & Info: Houston Rockets

Similar styles set to clash in L.A.

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
2:19
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AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillThe Clippers and Rockets like to get out and run, as they both rank in the top five in transition scoring.
The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers meet for a third time this season Wednesday night (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET), and chances are the match-up will be fun to watch.

Off to the races
There will be no shortage of high-flying dunks and fast breaks, as the Clippers and Rockets rank one and two in the league in dunks, respectively. They also play at almost the same exact pace and both rank in the top five in the league in transition scoring.

James Harden scored 20 of his 43 points in transition Tuesday night against the Kings, adding to his league-leading average of 7.8 points per game in transition.

The Clippers have been able to keep Harden in check this season, though. In the first two matchups against the Clippers this season, Harden scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting in transition.

Blake Griffin leads the Clippers, and all NBA power forwards/centers in transition points and assists this season.

Streaking
The Rockets enter Wednesday night’s game as one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

Houston is an NBA-best 18-5 since January 1. Fresh off a 26-point win against the Sacramento Kings, the Rockets have won 10 of its last 11 overall.

The Rockets entered January sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference. But Houston now sits in third place after a couple hot months and is one-and-a-half games back of the San Antonio Spurs.

Repeat performance?
The Clippers are 2-0 this season against the Rockets, winning by an average of 16.0 points per game.

Los Angeles found success against the Rockets by shooting well from long range, as well as having a balanced attack.

The Clippers averaged 12.0 three point field goals per game and show 38.7 percent from that distance in the first two meetings. Houston averaged 7.0 three point field goals and shot just 27.5 percent from that range.

In those two meetings four Clippers averaged 18+ points per game – J.J. Redick (24.0), Griffin (20.0), Jamal Crawford (18.5) and Chris Paul (18.5). Paul also dished out 15.0 assists per game.

L.A.’s success against Houston extends beyond this season, as the Clippers have won seven of their last eight games against the Rockets.

Harden rockets to 43 points in 3 quarters

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
1:47
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Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY SportsThe Kings had no answer for James Harden on Tuesday, as he scored 43 points in three quarters.
James Harden only needed three quarters to put up one of the great performances in Rockets history Tuesday night against the Kings.

On fire in the first
Harden took over early in Sacramento -- with 22 points in the first quarter -- the most he's scored in any quarter of his career.

He punctuated his torrid quarter by scoring the team's final 18 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Harden and Manu Ginobili of the Spurs are the only players this season to score 18 straight points for their respective teams.

When the smoke had cleared after the first 12 minutes, Harden had single-handedly outscored the Kings 22-17.

He also had seven field goals to the Kings' four and had either scored or assisted on 11 of the Rockets' 14 baskets.

What to do for an encore?
Harden finished with 43 points, eight assists and three steals. In the last 25 seasons, only two other Rockets players have reached those levels in a game.

Most recently, Hakeem Olajuwon did it in 1996 against the Timberwolves. A season before the Dream did it, Clyde Drexler reached those same levels against the Warriors.

Keeping company with LeBron
With a 104-77 lead after three quarters, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale gave Harden (along with the rest of the starters) the fourth quarter off.

That makes Harden the first player to score 43 points without playing a single second of the final quarter since March 18, 2011.

On that day, it was LeBron James who went for 43 in a blowout win for the Heat over the Hawks.

The common thread between Harden and LeBron? Each player needed exactly 31 minutes to do his damage.

Big questions for the NBA's second half

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
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With the NBA at the All-Star break, big questions loom for the second half of the season.

We dive into some of those topics and provide possible answers:

Is the Heat defense strong enough to win another title?
Heat opponents have an effective field goal percentage (which takes into account the added value of a 3-pointer) of 51.6% this season, tied for the 2nd-worst in the league.

Since the three-point line was adopted (1979-80), no team that has allowed an effective field goal percentage of 50% or higher and gone on to win the title that season (267 teams).

The Heat are allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions, tied for 14th in the NBA. Although results from last season suggest they could turn it around.

Their defensive efficiency ranked 11th in the NBA at the All-Star break last season, but 4th after the All-Star Break.

Are the Blazers serious contenders in the West?
Portland has lost seven of its last eight games against teams at or above .500 after starting the season 12-5 against such teams.

Their play down the stretch has been a complete turnaround from earlier in the season.

Each of their last three losses were decided by five or fewer points. They are 3-5 in such games in the new year after starting 8-3.

Damian Lillard had three game-winning shots in the final 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime in the first three months of the season, most in the NBA. Since then he and the Blazers have tailed off in clutch moments (defined as the final five minutes, score within five points of 4th Qtr/OT).

Will Carmelo have enough in the tank to get the Knicks into the postseason?
Carmelo Anthony is averaging a career-high 38.8 minutes per game this season.
Carmelo Anthony
Anthony
That is perhaps one reason why he is shooting a career-low 35.7 percent in the 4th quarter or overtime this season.

He is 0-of-8 on game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts in the final 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime this season, and 0-of-12 over the last two seasons. He was 5-of-10 on such shots in his first two seasons with the Knicks.

New York has suffered as a result. They are 1-6 in games decided by one possession (final score within three points) this season.

Is Durant really the NBA’s best closer and the MVP favorite?
LeBron James is shooting 52.2 percent in clutch time this season, compared with Durant’s 34.2 percent in those situations.

James has the best field goal percentage among 20 players with at least 50 field goal attempts in clutch time, and the next-closest player is shooting 42.9 percent (Lillard).

Will Dwight Howard be dominant enough for a Rockets title run?
The Rockets are on a seven-game win streak, the longest active streak in the NBA,
Dwight Howard
Howard
including wins against the Spurs, Suns and Mavericks. Dwight Howard is averaging 24.5 points per game on 60.0 percent shooting during the streak.

The Rockets are outscoring opponents by 15.3 points per 100 possessions with Dwight Howard on the court in those 7 games, and have been outscored by 4.5 points per 100 possessions with him off.

However, Dwight’s season has been far from eye popping. His player efficiency rating (PER) of 21.7 ranks 10th among current starting power forwards and centers this season.

His PER was fourth in the NBA (25.4), and best among power forwards and centers when the Magic made the NBA Finals in 2008-09.

Dwight Howard may have been given a slight pass last season given the drama in L.A. and coming off back surgery, but his overall performance has not improved much in Houston. He is averaging 1.7 more points per game, but with roughly the same field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks per game as last season.

--Contributions from John Parolin, Will Cohen, Sunny Saini, Steve Martinez & Doug Clawson

Lin has smaller role, production in Houston

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
4:49
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Dan Lippitt/NBAE/Getty Images
Jeremy Lin returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time since leaving the Knicks.
One of the biggest sports stories last year was Jeremy Lin’s run with the New York Knicks. On Monday, Lin returns to Madison Square Garden as a member of the Houston Rockets.

The two teams played earlier this season in Houston where the Rockets blew out the Knicks, 131-103. Lin scored 13 points in that game on 6-for-12 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists.

His numbers this season are a far cry from what he did as a starter with the Knicks, but a lot of that can be attributed to the Rockets’ style of play and Lin’s usage.

Last season, Lin flourished in the pick-and-roll. His role has changed with the Rockets -- James Harden has the ball most of the time, leaving Lin in more spot-up situations.

No player has seen his role on offense diminish more than Lin has. His usage percentage (percentage of team plays used by the player while he’s on the floor) has gone from more than 27 percent as a starter with the Knicks to less than 19 percent with the Rockets -- that’s by far the largest drop in the NBA (among 121 players to start a third of their team’s games the past two seasons).

Lin’s role in the offense also shifts based on the personnel on the court. His usage percentage is 17.0 with James Harden on the court and 27.5 when Harden’s on the bench. Lin is averaging 14.3 points per 48 minutes with Harden on the floor and 26.3 points per 48 minutes with Harden on the bench.

Houston’s lineup turnover this season has resulted in a more up-tempo style of play. Last season the Rockets were 11th in pace (94.3 possessions per 48 minutes) -- this season they lead the league with 99.1.

It’s worth noting that with Lin as a starter the Knicks averaged 97.4 possessions per 48 minutes, which was second in the NBA in that span.

Jeremy Lin’s Top Moments
February 10, 2012

38 Points, 7 Assists in 92-85 win vs Lakers
In his third career start, Lin torched the Lakers for a career-high 38 points, making 13 of 23 shots from the field.

February 14, 2012
27 Points, 11 Assists, game-winning 3-pointer in 90-87 win vs Raptors
Probably his most memorable moment last season was a game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second left on Valentine’s Day to give the Knicks a win over the Raptors, their sixth consecutive victory.

February 19, 2012
28 Points, 14 Assists in 104-97 win vs Mavericks
Lin had a career-high 14 assists to go with 28 points in one of his most complete games as a pro as the Knicks beat the Mavericks.

December 10, 2012
38 Points, 7 Assists in OT loss to Spurs
In easily his best game as a Rocket, Lin took more of a scoring role with Harden sidelined by a sprained ankle, tying his career-high with 38 points. Despite the effort, the Rockets fell to the Spurs in overtime.

Harden is focus of offense in return to OKC

November, 28, 2012
11/28/12
3:46
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US Presswire James Harden's Zone Chart shows where he is making his shots this season
Tonight James Harden returns to Oklahoma City to play his old team for the first time since being traded to the Houston Rockets on Oct. 27. While only time will tell whether the trade helped or hurt the Oklahoma City Thunder, one thing for certain is that Harden is having the best year of his career.

Harden’s talent has always been there, but there were doubts about whether he could thrive as the focal point of a team. So far this season he has been giving his doubters reason to eat their words as he has significantly improved his per game averages in points, assists and field goal attempts. He is averaging 8.3 points per game more this season than he did last season and is dishing out an average of 1.7 more assists.

This season Harden has been more effective off of the pick-and-roll than he has been in isolation. He leads the league with 8.9 points per game off of the pick-and-roll and is averaging only 0.86 points per play in isolation this season. Last season he averaged 1.04 points per play on isolation plays, which ranked in the top five in the league.

As a pick-and-roll ball handler Harden is shooting 53.5 percent and averaging 1.10 points per play this season, both of which rank in the top 10 in the NBA (minimum 25 plays). Last season Harden averaged 1.06 points per play on the pick-and-roll, which was good for third in the league (minimum 25 plays).

Harden’s shot selection has also changed from his time at OKC. In the Zone Chart above we can see that most of his points are coming from within close range of the basket. Last year with the Thunder 44 percent of his shots came in the paint. With the Rockets he has been taking the ball to the rim, boosting that number to more than 47 percent. He is making more field goals inside 5 feet this season (57) than from 5+ feet (48) and is shooting 60.8 percent from close range as opposed to 33.1 percent on shots 5 feet or further from the basket.

When he was in Oklahoma City Harden was more likely to shoot from beyond the arc. Last year almost half of his shots came from behind the 3-point line. This year it’s closer to a third.

Harden’s usage percentage has also increased tremendously (Usage Percentage is the percentage of team plays used by a player when he is on the floor). He is creating 12.9 points per game off of his assists, and his 12 assists Tuesday against the Raptors resulted in a career-high 28 points for his teammates. Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson have benefitted the most with Harden on the court this year. Both have 15 field goals made off of Harden assists, the most on the team. Omer Asik (12 FGM) and Jeremy Lin (11 FGM) have also benefitted greatly from Harden’s play this year.

Lin struggling to create own shot

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
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Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesJeremy Lin is scoreless on 14 isolation plays this season.
Did Jeremy Lin make a mistake by leaving the New York Knicks and signing with the Houston Rockets?

We're only seven games into the season and Lin is still adjusting to his new team, but thus far it looks statistically like he was better off with the Knicks.

Last season, Lin was one of the best isolation players in the league, according to Synergy Sports. He ranked third in the NBA in points per isolation play among the 91 players with at least 75 plays, just behind his new teammate James Harden.

The Knicks led the league in isolation plays and points last season. Their primary offense consisted of spreading the floor and letting Lin and others attack off the dribble.

But was Lin the right fit for the Knicks or were the Knicks the right fit for Lin?

There were two contrasting offseason theories:

• Lin's isolation prowess could help the Rockets, who ranked 20th in isolation points last season and 22th in isolation plays.

• Lin, who bounced around from team to team before finally finding a role with the Knicks, was only successful in New York because the Knicks relied so heavily on isolation plays and were able to spread the floor. He wouldn't be as successful in Houston with a more team-oriented offense that doesn't rely so much on isolation and doesn’t have as much talent to spread the floor.

The latter theory is proving true thus far.

LIN STRUGGLING IN ISOLATION
Lin is shooting 0-for-8 with six turnovers and zero points on 14 isolation plays this season.

The issues? Turnovers and lack of aggressiveness.

Not only is he settling for outside jumpers more often -– he’s attempted 3-pointers on 29 percent of his isolation plays after that number was 15 percent last season -- but he hasn’t gotten to the free throw line on any of his isolation plays. Last season, Lin attempted free throws on 18 percent of his isolation plays, the fourth-highest rate in the league among the 91 players with at least 75 isolation plays.

Lin has turned the ball over on 43 percent of his isolation plays this season -– the highest percentage in the league -- after turning it over on just 6.5 percent of those plays last season.

BEST ISO BACKCOURT? NOT SO FAST
The fact that Lin and Harden both ranked among the best isolation players in the league last season gave the Rockets hope, as it appeared the Rockets might have the best isolation backcourt in the NBA.

But that's not the case thus far. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

The Rockets are shooting just 28 percent on isolation plays this season, the fourth-lowest percentage in the NBA.

Not only is Lin struggling is isolation, but Harden is as well. Harden is shooting just 24 percent, the worst isolation field-goal percentage of the 19 players with at least 25 plays this season, although Harden has found other ways to score – he’s shooting 51 percent on non-isolation plays (Lin: 39 percent).

The Knicks and Thunder both had plenty of talent spread throughout the court, thus allowing Lin and Harden to excel in isolation without teams being able to collapse on one single player.

The Rockets are different. Lin and Harden are the clear focal points of their offense – they’ve combined for 74 percent of their isolation plays this season.

If Lin is going to become a more efficient offensive player, he’ll have to learn how to score in other ways. As of now, it appears that he still has a lot of room for improvement.

Did OKC make mistake by trading Harden?

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
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Rick Osentoski/US PresswireJames Harden is leading the NBA in scoring this season.
James Harden is making many people think the Oklahoma City Thunder made a bad decision by trading him - and rightfully so.

Harden, who is playing 10.3 more minutes per game this season compared to last, leads the league in scoring with 35.3 points per game.

But perhaps the trade will end up being a win-win for both the Houston Rockets and Thunder - at least for this season as Martin is in the last year of his contract. Through four games - admittedly, a very small sample size - Martin is averaging 19.3 points per game, a 2.5 point increase over what Harden put up last season in an OKC uniform.

Martin scored 15 points last night in just 22 minutes of action. He's making more than three 3-pointers per game while shooting nearly 62 percent from behind the arc. It's also noteworthy that Jeremy Lamb - the other key piece in the trade along with draft picks - has scored six points in just seven total minutes this season.

Among the 96 players that have logged at least 100 minutes on the court this season, Harden and Martin rank first and tied for seventh, respectively, in points per 48 minutes. Russell Westbrook is averaging 28.9 points per 48 minutes while Kevin Durant is averaging 25.7.

Harden has 106 points through three games, the second-most points through the first three team games of a season in Rockets franchise history (Moses Malone had 107 points through three games in 1981).

Perhaps the craziest part of Harden's start is that we should have seen it coming. Last year in Oklahoma City, Harden averaged nearly 35 points per 40 minutes when he was not sharing the floor with Durant. This season, Harden’s per game numbers are eerily similar to his per 40 minute averages with Durant off the floor last season.

Harden is the first player with at least 106 points, 19 rebounds and 19 assists in his team’s first three games of a season since Michael Jordan in 1989-90.

An inside look at the 2012-13 schedule

July, 26, 2012
7/26/12
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No lockout means a return to normalcy in this year's schedule, where each team visits each city at least once and no team has to play a back-to-back-to-back. Last season, there were 40 back-to-back-to-backs.

Also this year, the regular season will start almost two months earlier (October 30) and will end nine days earlier (April 17) than last season.

SCHEDULE TIDBITS
• NBA Finals rematches: Christmas Day in Miami, Valentine's Day in Oklahoma City.

• Eastern Conference Finals rematches: October 30 in Miami, January 27 in Boston, March 18 in Boston, April 12 in Miami.

• Western Conference Finals rematches: November 1 in San Antonio, December 17 in Oklahoma City, March 11 in San Antonio, April 4 in Oklahoma City.

• Check out the notable "return" games this season in the chart at right, including Carmelo Anthony making his first trip to Denver this year. Because of the lockout-adjusted schedule, the Knicks did not play at the Nuggets last season.

• Teams appearing the most frequently on ESPN networks: Los Angeles Lakers (16), Miami Heat (15), Oklahoma City Thunder (15), New York Knicks (15), Los Angeles Clippers (14), Chicago Bulls (12), Boston Celtics (11).

DEFENDING THEIR TITLE
• The Heat and Celtics will play each other on Opening Night, October 30 in Miami. Not only will it be Ray Allen's first game against his most mates, LeBron James is 0-3 vs Celtics in season-openers (0-1 with the Heat in 2010, 0-2 with the Cavaliers in 2008 and 2009).

• Based on last season’s records, the toughest months of the season schedule-wise for the Heat will be the start of their season in October-November. But they'll follow that with their easiest month in December. And that includes a Christmas Day showdown with the Thunder.

• It hasn’t been easy for teams to defend their title recently. There’s been only one repeat champion in the last 10 years (Lakers 2009 and 2010). The last two teams defending their titles were bounced in the 1st Round (2012 Mavericks) and Conference Semifinals (2011 Lakers). The last time the Heat defended their title, in the 2006-07 season, they were dealt injuries to Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal and knocked out in the 1st Round.

Lin, Howard would be nice pick-and-roll duo

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
2:27
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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith Jeremy Lin now officially a member of the Rockets, is Dwight Howard next?
It’s official: Jeremy Lin is a Houston Rocket... but that doesn’t mean Rockets GM Daryl Morey is done wheeling and dealing. With Lin in the fold, how might he fit in a potential partnership with Houston’s other target, Dwight Howard?

THE PICK-AND-ROLL GAME

In addition to being a defensive force, Howard is the best pick-and-roll finisher in the NBA. He averaged 1.38 points per play as the roll man on pick-and-rolls last season, best in the league among players with at least 35 plays.

On the surface, it might not appear Lin would be the ideal pick-and-roll point guard to pair with Howard. On all of his passes out of the pick-and-roll, Lin ranked in just the 40th percentile in points per play.

However, when going exclusively to the roll man, Lin ranked in the 72nd percentile (fifth of 35 point guards with 100 plays). That compares favorably to both Howard’s current and preferred point guards.

Orlando’s Jameer Nelson ranked 15th among that group of 35 point guards while the Nets’ Deron Williams came in at just 29th on points per play generated on passes to the roll man.

PLAYING OFF THE BALL

What about Lin playing off of Howard?
Dwight Howard
Howard
Despite missing 12 games, Howard still led the NBA with 181 passes to spot-up shooters last season and commanded a hard double-team 5.8 percent of the time he posted up.

Only Andrew Bynum and LaMarcus Aldridge were doubled more frequently so the ability to spot up, spread the floor and punish teams for doubling Howard is important when playing alongside the big fella. Unfortunately, this is not an area in which Lin excels.

Lin shot just 32.0 percent from the 3-point line and ranked in the 55th percentile in spot-up situations (0.94 points per play) last season. He ranked in the 43rd percentile in catch-and-shoot situations (0.86 points per play).

AS A BALL-DOMINANT GUARD

One of the keys to Lin’s success with the Knicks last season was his freedom to make plays. Of the 148 guards with at least 500 minutes last season, Lin’s usage rate of 27.4 ranked 10th. Some players he outranked? Chris Paul, Brandon Jennings and John Wall.

For comparison’s sake, Nelson’s usage rate has been under 23.0 in each of the past six seasons and Lin’s usage rate last season (27.4) would be the second-highest ever among Howard’s backcourt teammates.

The highest rate posted by any guard teammate of Howard’s was 28.4 by Steve Francis during Howard’s rookie campaign in 2004-05.

Despite all the success, plenty of mistakes came along with the freedom Lin enjoyed in New York. Lin averaged 4.7 turnovers per game as a starter, last among the 39 players who made at least 20 starts at the point last season.

Will Lin transition to Rockets' offense?

July, 16, 2012
7/16/12
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The Houston Rockets need players. On Tuesday, Jeremy Lin could help them fill that void. That’s when the New York Knicks must decide on matching the 3-year, $25-million offer Lin signed with Houston.

What would Lin mean to the Rockets?

The impact surely extends off the court with marketing and ticket sales. But Lin’s on-the-court impact can’t be denied. First, consider what’s currently on Houston’s roster.

With Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry and Samuel Dalembert all departing, the Rockets will be without their top three players in PER (player efficiency rating) from last season. That leaves Kevin Martin as the top returning player. He finished 94th in the NBA in PER last season, right behind Mike Dunleavy Jr.

If he winds up in Houston, Lin catapults to the top of their point guard depth chart, a spot currently occupied by former teammate Toney Douglas.

Houston received strong production for the point guard position in 2011-12. The now-departed point guards combined to average 16.8 ppg and 7.7 apg last season, both in the top seven in the NBA. However, there’s reason to believe Lin would still be an improvement. His 19.6 points per 36 minutes and 8.3 assists per 36 minutes were better than both Lowry and Dragic.
Lin’s starting stretch for the Knicks provides a hint of his potential production. From February 6 to March 24 (the period one might call “Linsanity”), he averaged 18.2 ppg and 7.7 apg. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only NBA player who matched him in both total points and assists over that period was Chris Paul.

Isolations are where Lin excels. He scored the 3rd-most points-per-play of the 91 players with at least 75 isolation plays last season. Only Chris Paul and James Harden were more effective in isolation.

Given the wholesale roster changes, it’s difficult to project Houston’s offensive style. But last season, the Rockets had one of the better transition offenses in the league. They shot 58.7 percent in transition (9th in the NBA) and averaged 1.16 points per play (8th in the NBA).

Lin struggled in transition last year. Out of 130 players with at least 75 plays in transition. he ranked 129 in turnover percentage and tied for 197th in points per play.

Lin’s biggest impact could be close to the basket. Houston ranked 24th in the NBA with only 41 of its made field goals coming from within five feet of the basket.

While Lin was on the court last season, 57 percent of the Knicks' made field goals came from within five feet of the basket.

Felton over Lin? Might be a mistake

July, 15, 2012
7/15/12
12:34
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Debby Wong/US PresswireJeremy Lin might not be playing in a Knicks uniform anymore.
Are the New York Knicks making a mistake if they let Jeremy Lin go, and proceed with Raymond Felton as their starting point guard?

From a pure basketball perspective, the numbers say yes, they are.

ISOLATION

Isolation plays are where Lin excels. He scored the third most points per play of the 91 players with at least 75 isolation plays last season, trailing only Chris Paul and James Harden. Felton ranked 68th.

Felton turned the ball over on isolation plays more than twice as often as Lin, who committed just six turnovers on his 93 isolation plays. And only Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh and Harden got to the free throw line more often than Lin on isolation plays.

PICK-AND-ROLL

Among the 41 players who were the ball-handler on at least 200 pick-and-roll plays last season, Felton scored the fourth-fewest points per play. Only John Wall, Rajon Rondo and Jamal Crawford were worse. Lin, who ranked 26th, got to the free throw line nearly three times as often as Felton on those plays.

JUMPERS OFF THE DRIBBLE

Despite shooting just 33 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers last season, Lin shot 48 percent on jumpers off the dribble.

Of the 102 players who attempted at least 90 jumpers off the dribble, only Stephen Curry and Steve Nash shot a higher field goal percentage than Lin. Felton ranked 85th of those 102 players, shooting just 33 percent.

PASSING

Felton and Lin both passed the ball on most of their pick-and-roll plays. And both players’ teammates had nearly the same field goal percentage and points per play on those passes. Felton passed it to the roll men more often, while Lin hit the cutters and spot-up shooters more often.

Felton passed the ball more often on isolation plays than Lin, who was better at passing to cutters, resulting in a higher field goal percentage and more points per play by his teammates on those passes. But with Lin’s high efficiency on isolation plays, it may not be such a bad thing that he passes the ball on only 17 percent of his isolation plays.

DEFENSE


So if Lin seems to be the better offensive player, for the Knicks to justify this move, they must think Felton is the better defender, right? That may not be the case.

Lin held opponents to fewer points per play and a lower field goal percentage (37.8) last season than Felton (41.6). Of the 235 players to defend at least 300 plays, Lin ranked 78th in fewest points per play, while Felton ranked 133rd.

LIN BETTER OFF WITH KNICKS

Why is Lin better off with the Knicks than the Rockets?

Isolation plays are Lin’s bread and butter. He’s among the best in the league. No team had more isolation plays last season than the Knicks. Isolation plays accounted for 17 percent of the Knicks' offense, the highest such percentage in the league.

The Rockets, meanwhile, ranked 22nd in isolation plays, which accounted for just 9 percent of their offense. The Knicks had nearly twice as many isolation plays as the Rockets.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above analysis using Synergy Sports Technology, it seems that Lin would be the better choice for the Knicks. And Lin might not thrive in Houston the way he would in New York.

Bobcats are not at odds with NBA lottery

May, 29, 2012
5/29/12
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With the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery on Wednesday (8 ET on ESPN), each non-playoff team’s fans are hoping that the ping-pong balls come out in their favor, giving them the No. 1 overall pick and a chance to select likely top choice, Anthony Davis.

Given each team's probability of winning the top pick in the lottery, here is a similar event related to that team that has approximately the same frequency.

Charlotte Bobcats (25.0 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Bobcats losing a game last season by at least 25 points. In 2011-12, the Bobcats lost 16 of 66 games (24.2 percent) of their games by at least 25 points.

Washington Wizards (19.9 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: John Wall scoring at least 24 points in a game last season.

New Orleans Hornets (14.8 percent, includes their own pick and the Timberwolves' pick)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Hornets winning a game by at least eight points last season.

Cleveland Cavaliers (13.8 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Kyrie Irving scoring more than 10 points in the fourth quarter of a game.

Sacramento Kings (7.6 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins combining for 50 points in a game last season.

Brooklyn Nets (7.5 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Deron Williams scoring at least 25 points and also having 10 assists in a game last season.

Golden State Warriors (3.6 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Stephen Curry scoring at least 25 points and also having 10 assists in a game last season.

Toronto Raptors (3.5 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Andrea Bargnani scoring at least 35 points in a game in 2011-12.

Detroit Pistons (1.7 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Greg Monroe having a 30-point, 15-rebound game last season.

Portland Trail Blazers (0.8 pecent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a half last season.

Milwaukee Bucks (0.7 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Brandon Jennings making five 3-point field goals in a half in 2011-12.

Phoenix Suns (0.6 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: Steve Nash making 50 straight free throws during his career.

Houston Rockets (0.5 percent)
Team-Related Event with Similar Frequency: NBA team finishing two to four games above .500 and missing playoffs in three straight seasons (which the Rockets have, in fact, done the last three seasons).

Bobcats fighting odds in Lottery

May, 28, 2012
5/28/12
10:39
AM ET
The NBA Draft Lottery Wednesday (ESPN, 8 ET) sees the Charlotte Bobcats with the best odds at acquiring the top selection (25.0 percent) after finishing 7-59 on the season. But the worst record hardly secures the top pick, as just last year the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Draft Lottery with only a 2.8 percent chance.

In addition, since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won just three of the 18 lotteries: Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 (Allen Iverson), Cavaliers in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando Magic in 2004 (Dwight Howard). By comparison, the teams with the third and fifth-best odds have won four times.

It is new territory for the Bobcats franchise. Since joining the NBA in 2004, Charlotte has never held the No. 1 overall pick, and the Bobcats highest selection was in 2004 when they picked Emeka Okafor No. 2 overall (Bobcats originally had the No. 4 pick, but traded with the Los Angeles Clippers).

Ten current franchises have never made the No. 1 overall pick in an NBA Draft since 1966 (start of common draft), and along with Charlotte, the Phoenix Suns (0.6 percent chance) are the only other team in the 2012 Lottery.

The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, have a 0.5 percent chance of winning the Lottery, the third straight year they have held the worst odds. In addition, this is the third straight and fifth time in the last 12 years the Rockets have missed the playoffs despite having a winning record.

Looking ahead, since the start of the Lottery in 1985, 13 of the 27 No. 1 overall picks have gone on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, including 2011 No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving. In addition, since 1990, four overall No. 1 picks went on to win the Rookie of the Year award and make the postseason (Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber and David Robinson).

Kobe and Rondo shine on Sunday

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
12:38
AM ET
Kobe Bryant
Bryant
Sunday was a day in which Kobe Bryant made like Magic Johnson and Rajon Rondo made like both Johnson and Larry Bird.

In the afternoon’s first game, Bryant hit the game-winning shot with 4.2 seconds remaining to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 94-92 win over the Toronto Raptors.

It was the 16th time that Bryant hit a game-winning shot in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime, since his career began in 1996-1997. That’s the most in the NBA in that span- two more than Carmelo Antony.

Rondo raised his game a level in a 95-91 win over the Chicago Bulls, with 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds. A check of Basketball-Reference.com shows that he’s the fifth player with a 30-15-10 game since 1990, the other four being Johnson, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, and LeBron James.

The last Celtic with a 30-15-10 game was Bird against the then-Washington Bullets in April, 1987.

The Boston Celtics have now allowed fewer than 100 points in 25 straight games. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that’s the longest single-season streak by any team since the 2004-05 Bulls (26 straight) and the seventh-longest streak in the shot-clock era, which dates to the 1954-55 season.

The NBA record is 36 straight games, set by the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons.

Elsewhere around the league the Miami Heat blew out the Atlanta Hawks, marking the sixth time this season, the Heat won by at least 20 points. Only the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers have more blowout wins than Miami. However, the Sixers have been the on the receiving end of two of the Heat's routs.

LeBron James finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for his 106th career-game with 20-10-5. Since 2003, his rookie season, James has the second-most such games behind Kevin Garnett.

Plus-Minus Note of the Night
Washington Wizards guard John Wall finished a +28 in a 98-77 win over the Detroit Pistons. It was the best plus-minus for Wall in his 97-game NBA career.

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