Rockets vs. Bucks Preview and Game Thread: James Harden and Jeremy Lin lead Rockets into Milwaukee

Scott Halleran

The Bucks look to snap their two-game losing streak when they host James Harden and the new-look, high-scoring Rockets at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Friday night.

2012/2013 NBA Season
(18-14, 5-8 road)
(16-14, 9-7 home)
January 4, 2012
BMO Harris Center | Miwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ
Probable Starters
Jeremy Lin PG Brandon Jennings
James Harden SG Monta Ellis
Chandler Parson SF Marquis Daniels
Patrick Patterson PF Luc Mbah a Moute
Omer Asik C Larry Sanders
2012/13 Advanced Stats
96.9 (1st) Pace 93.5 (7th)
108.1 (7th) ORtg 102.2 (25th)
105.7 (16th) DRtg 102.7 (7th)

On the Rockets: The Dream Shake | Ultimate Rockets | Clutch Fans

Rockets update. What's not to like about the Rockets? While they won't be contending for a title this season, GM Daryl Morey has pieced together a young, likable and high-scoring outfit that has scored 120+ points in four of their last eight games. At the center of it all is James Harden, the former Thunder super-sub who has wasted no time embracing the role of franchise cornerstone in Houston. He scores a ton (26.3 ppg), does it efficiently (an exceptional 60.0% true shooting) and still manages the spread the love around (5.3 apg), which is a big reason why his raw stats are matched by equally impressive advanced metrics (23.4 PER, 0.205 WS/48).

Houston has feasted on Eastern Conference teams thus far, winning 12 of 14 games, but they're just 5-8 on the road and will play 12 of their next 16 away from home.

Carlitos. Former Buck Carlos Delfino returns to Milwaukee for the first time since joining the Rockets, a decision driven at least in part by the Bucks' apparent disinterest in bringing him back. But unlike some other former Bucks, Carlos ain't mad about it. Dude always was a class act and it's nice to see him getting regular burn in Houston, where he's putting up pretty much the exact same numbers he always puts up (fun fact: his TS% has been between 51.5% and 51.7% each of the last three years). The big difference is that he's no longer starting and his lineups are no longer bleeding red on the court: Houston is a net +9.2 pts/100 with Delfino playing vs. on the bench, which marks a complete reversal from last season's -11.9 pts/100 in Milwaukee.

Larry. Plenty of pub for Larry Sanders this week. Over at Grantland, Zach Lowe's Not Quite Mid-season Awards peg Larry for third in the most improved category

...the Bucks offense basically falls to Wizardian levels whenever Scott Skiles pairs SANDERS! with a big-man partner other than Ersan Ilyasova, who can provide some floor spacing, per But SANDERS! is a massively impactful defender; opponents have shot just 51.2 percent from the restricted area when he’s on the floor and nearly 59 percent when he sits. Some perspective: Indiana has held opponents to a league-low 53.3 percent shooting from inside the block/charge circle.

SI's Lee Jenkins also has a piece on Sanders' long (figuratively at least) and improbable road to NBA almost-stardom.

Inspector Gadget. Speaking of pub, we gave John Henson plenty of it yesterday, including Jake's feature on why defense may hold Henson back in the short term as well as video of his big night against the Spurs. Meanwhile, over at FS Wisconsin Andrew Gruman writes that the Bucks are trying to stay patient with Henson and fellow rookie Doron Lamb and Gery Woelfel and Charles Gardner write...well, much of the same stuff. Sounds like Skiles plans to give him another chance to play tonight, but who knows where things go from here.

Injury Update : Beno Udrih (ankle) is active tonight.

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