By Jace Darling and Matt Rochinski, bobcats.com
October 29, 2013
KEY MATCHUP vs. ROCKETS: Bismack Biyombo vs. Dwight Howard
Over the course of the past two seasons, Bismack Biyombo and Dwight Howard have faced off four times – twice when Howard was a Laker and two other times in Biyombo’s rookie year while Howard was still a member of the Orlando Magic. In his rookie season Biyombo had two solid outings against Howard, averaging 10.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in 27 minutes. Last season, with both players starting at center, the battles raged on and Biyombo had two more solid games against the perennial All-Star, averaging 8.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in 33 minutes. Biyombo is coming off a strong close to the preseason, finishing with averages of 6.0 points and team highs in rebounds (10.6) and blocks (2.00)… Howard impressed for the Rockets in seven games in the preseason, nearly averaging a double-double (11.7 points, team-high 9.3 rebounds) to go with a team-best 1.71 blocks. With the success Biyombo has had against Howard in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these two matched up in Houston on Wednesday. Al Jefferson is expected to start after missing the last six preseason games with a sprained ankle but his minutes may be limited, so it is important for Biyombo to continue to give the Cats solid minutes, be dominant on the glass and change as many of Howard’s shots as he can in order to give Charlotte a chance to come away with the victory.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS (5-3, preseason)
New Head Coach Steve Clifford has the Bobcats working hard to play his style of game – be aggressive on the defensive end and go with the four-out one-in approach on the offensive end. However, his style was tweaked a little through the closing games of the preseason due to Jefferson’s ankle sprain. Rather then playing a lot of post up basketball with Jefferson in the middle, Biyombo moved into the starting lineup as the team played with a bit of a smaller lineup… After going 5-3 in the preseason the Cats have plenty to look forward to for the upcoming season. Kemba Walker was solid in all the tune-up games while Jeffery Taylor continued his strong offseason growth, coming on strong while getting increased minutes from last season. He finished with averages of 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 25 minutes in the preseason… With the new additions this season of rookie Cody Zellar, Anthony Tolliver and James Southerland to go with the returning core and Clifford’s new approach, the 2013-14 season is full of optimism.
SCOUTING THE ROCKETS (6-1, preseason)
The Houston Rockets have been extremely active in free agency the last two seasons, adding James Harden and Jeremy Lin last season and brining in one of the biggest catches of the 2013 offseason in Dwight Howard. Howard gives the Rockets a true threat on the low block to have the offense run through. Houston has Howard listed as a forward/center, considering he’ll be playing alongside big man Omer Asik, which indicates Howard will typically have a forward matched up against him and play into his favor. Over the course of the 2013-2014 preseason Howard was third on the team in scoring (11.7 points) and led the team in rebounds (9.3) and blocks (1.71) while Harden led Houston with 18.7 points and Lin paced the team with 4.7 assists… Head Coach Kevin McHale is going into his third season at the helm of the Rockets. He went 45-37 (.549) in his second season as head coach with Houston in 2012-13, guiding the Rockets to their first playoff berth since 2008-09 … He went 34-32 (.515) with Houston in 2011-12 after becoming the 12th head coach in Rockets history on June 1, 2011.
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