Week in the Southwest: Houston’s Josh Smith experiment struggles to take off

The debut of Josh Smith against Memphis was a breath of fresh air for the Houston Rockets. He was aggressive and provided a much needed spark off the bench scoring 21 PTS and 8 REB and helping the Rockets to a 117-111 overtime victory.

The Rockets strangely, begun to struggle after that. They lost a tight game to division rivals, the San Antonio Spurs after turning the ball over for a season high 25 times. They got edged out by the Wizards at home 104-103 before soundly defeating Charlotte after James Harden knocked down a career high of eight 3 pointers on New Year’s Eve. The low point of the season came when the New Orleans Pelicans dismantled Houston 111-83. Coach Kevin McHale benched his starting 5 90 seconds into the second half visibly upset with their effort on both sides of the court. After the game he went on to say:

This week of basketball proved to be the worst the Rockets had played this season, and it seemed to correlate to Josh Smith’s promotion to the starting line-up.

The Josh Smith experiment hasn’t seemed to have lifted off in Houston, however it is too early to pull the plug on Josh Smith. Whilst Smoove’s poor play has seemingly translated into the team playing inconsistently, a recent Daryl Morey tweet explains that the team’s recent struggles shouldn’t be pinned on him.

The Rockets are attempting to integrate two key players in Josh Smith and Corey Brewer into the rotation with little practice due to a rough schedule that saw them play 4 games over the past week. Time is needed before the verdict can come out on Josh Smith’s career impact in Houston.

Elsewhere in the Southwest, the New Orleans Pelicans went 2-1 with a key win over the Suns to strengthen their position in the potential playoff race for the 8th seed. They played a strong game against the San Antonio Spurs only to have Omer Asik accidentally tip the ball into his own hoop to send the game to overtime, where they would eventually lose 95-93. A subsequent brilliant all-around team effort saw the Pelicans destroy the Houston Rockets 111-83.

The San Antonio Spurs managed to get 2 wins despite a very tough week with wins over the Rockets and Pelicans, with their sole loss coming against the Grizzlies.

The Memphis Grizzles were undefeated at 3-0 this week with victories over the Spurs, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers as they were led by Marc Gasol, who continues to play at an MVP level.

The Dallas Mavericks went 3-0 in a week that saw them have big wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics in Rajon Rondo’s emotional homecoming that saw the former Boston captain light up his former team for 29 points and a career high 5 made 3 pointers.

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