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2010-2011 Game 26 Preview: Oklahoma City vs. Houston; Defending Against the Running Rockets

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (17-8) vs. The Houston Rockets (10-14)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: The New Myriad, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, Fox Sports Net Houston

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), SportsRadio 610

Enemy Blog(s): The Dream Shake

Previous Meeting(s): Nov. 17th, Nov. 28th

There are many moments that stand out in my mind from this season. They range from James Harden's dunk last Sunday night against the Cavaliers to Russell Westbrook carrying the team through triple overtime against the Nets. But the most wholly negative image that sticks out in my mind like a sore thumb is from when we last played the Rockets. With the Thunder down 1 and only a few seconds to go, Kevin Durant took a highly contested mid-range jumper that clanked off the front of the rim. Game over. The Thunder had lost once again to the pesky Rockets.

How do we prevent a repeat event? Well, it's harder than you might think. They've done their job in recent weeks by beating inferior Western Conference opponents, and even picked up a win against the Lakers on December 2nd. In a recent trade, the Rockets gave up their first round pick in 2012 for Terrence Williams, a developing swingman who was picked 11th by the Nets two years ago. This gives them an option besides the inconsistent Courtney Lee at backup swingman, and it adds to their depth. And, if nothing else, these Rockets are a deep team. It's not uncommon to see them go 11 or 12 deep, depending on how certain players are doing.

The Rockets tend to be a fast paced, high scoring team when they can, and when they start to slow down the pace, they generally find themselves in trouble. So you're probably not going to outscore the Rockets, but you can defend against them. The Bobcats successfully did it, and we did it when we played against the Rockets at home on November 17th. If you can force the team to rely on their secondary scorers (in other words, not Luis Scola and Kevin Martin), they'll tend to struggle. In my opinion, the trap defense that we tried to use against them last time by putting two defenders on a player any time they were on the wing didn't work too well, and led to far more open shots than it did turnovers. I'd just stick to double teaming Scola in the post, and sticking Sefolosha on Martin. Hopefully that will provide enough defense for the win. If not, then at least Brooks can say he's tried different things.

While the Rockets are hot, I just don't see the Rockets overpowering us at home. They're a tricky team for sure, but they still lack a similar level of talent to our team, and they rely too much on role players and scoring in bunches. I see us pulling out a win here, but I'm still wary of a loss. Be glad both Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks are still injured.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 99, Houston 97.