The Brooklyn Nets had been on a roll, but that came to a screeching halt on Friday night in Memphis. The Nets will look to get back to their winning ways when they visit the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
Prior to Friday night's game against the Grizzlies, the Nets had won 10 of 11 and had pulled to just one game back of the New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division. But things got ugly at the FedEx Forum, as Brooklyn was embarrassed by Memphis 101-77. There was even a little controversy afterward, with Reggie Evans lashing out at the Grizzlies for playing their starters deep into the fourth quarter of the blowout.
Perhaps that will give the Nets a little motivation when they face the Rockets, who have won two of three after a woeful seven-game losing streak. Houston will also be on the second night of a back-to-back, as they destroyed the New Orleans Hornets 100-82 on Friday night. The 82 points allowed is tied for the least amount given up in a game by the Rockets this season.
The Rockets have dominated the Nets in recent history, winning 14 of the last 15 meetings and 11 in a row. But considering the major changes that took place in the off-season to both rosters, those numbers mean very little.
This game will be a huge contrast in styles, as Houston prefers to play an uptempo game while Brooklyn is much more methodical offensively. In fact, the match-up is about as contrasting in styles as you can get. In terms of pace, the Rockets are the fastest-playing team in the NBA while the Nets are the slowest. That seems somewhat bizarre for a team with Deron Williams at point guard along with a lot of other talented pieces, but the numbers do not lie here.
Speaking of Williams, the point guard suffered a quad contusion in the loss to the Grizzlies, but Nets head coach P.J. Carlesimo said the injury is not serious. Williams and Joe Johnson will have to be on their A-games Saturday, because the key to slowing down the Rockets is limiting the damage done by James Harden and Jeremy Lin.
Harden is fourth in the league in scoring at 25.9 points per game and leads the league in free throw attempts per game with 10. Lin has struggled at times this year, and especially recently, but he has the ability to go off if not defended properly. The best way to defend those two is to pressure the ball and force turnovers, as the Rockets are dead-last in the league in turnover rate.
Another good match-up to watch will be the one between All-Star snub Brook Lopez and Omer Asik. Lopez has been dominant offensively this season, averaging 18.6 points on 52.1 percent shooting. Meanwhile, Asik is one of the better big man defenders in the game and could give Lopez some trouble with his length.
Time and TV: 8 p.m. ET on YES Network and CSN Houston
Odds: Houston is a three-point favorite.