December has been kind to the Rockets, but mostly because of the schedule. They are 7-2 for the month, but the competition has been less than stellar. True, they beat two good teams - Denver and Atlanta, both at Toyota Center. The rest of the month has been a romp through the Weak Sisters of the Poor of the Western Conference. Road losses to the Clippers and Grizzlies spoiled an otherwise excellent month.
7-2 is a good record, but as I've said before, to ignore the records of the opponents is to stick one's head in the sand. Other than the Nuggets and Hawks, the rest of the teams they faced have a combined record of 73-138, an anemic .346 winning percentage, and the Rockets lost to two of those teams.
One bright spot has been the emergence of Aaron Brooks at the point. He still has a lot to learn, but is as quick as a hiccup, and plays with a lot of grit. Whatever he gives up on defense because of his height he seems to make up for on offense.
Yes, the injury bug still bites, and that sucker can sting. In the road loss to the Clippers, Tracy McGrady was hobbled and Ron Artest missed the game completely. McGrady and Artest both missed the road loss to the Grizzlies. Rafer Alston was injured in a home win against the Clippers and has missed the last three games. Brent Barry, who was slated to be a staple in the rotation, has missed all of December with a torn leg muscle.
I used to play a lot of B-Ball, strictly club stuff and I was never very good, but it did teach me a great deal about injuries, mostly ankle injuries. They take time to heal completely, and not just a little time. Six weeks for a severe sprain is optimistic to return to the court, but the pain may not go away for months at least. Same for the knees. Now that I am beyond my basketball days, the ankle pain is chronic. Basketball is a great game and provides valuable exercise, but it's hell on the wheels.
Again, the report card shows an Incomplete. When everyone gets healthy and the competition improves, we'll see where they stand. Merry Christmas everyone!