Houston Rockets Stat Monkey Brief: Rockets/Raptors (11/27/12)

According to Rockets writer Christopher Lee, controlling the battle on the boards is a main key to a potential Rockets victory tonight.

The Rockets host the Raptors in the team’s first game since Head Coach Kevin McHale’s daughter passed away on Saturday. With their thoughts and prayers with the McHale family, Houston looks to build on their two game win streak against a hapless Toronto team that is just 1-7 on the road. The Rox also welcome back Kyle Lowry, who will be making his first appearance at the Toyota Center since Houston traded him this offseason.

Parsons Stepping Up

Coming off a career high 31 points in the Rockets’ win over the Knicks, Chandler Parsons (15.5ppg, 7 rpg) has emerged has the team’s second option. Playing close to 38 minutes a game, Parsons leads the team in 3-point percentage at 41% and his 57% effective field goal percentage (a percentage that weighs three-point shots more heavily than two-point shots), both figures among league leaders. Since James Harden’s back must be tight from carrying the Houston offense game in and game out, continued high-level play from Parsons is key to the team’s success, especially now that Linsanity is a distant memory.

The Battle on the Boards

Houston has outrebounded their opponents by a +3.4 margin and ranks in the top five for rebounds per game, lead by offseason acquisition Omer Asik. The Turk has been a beast around the rim, currently ranking third in rebounds per game (11.9) and sixth in total rebound percentage (20.1%). Asik put up impressive per 36 rebounding numbers last season in Chicago and has maintained that production, despite his minutes more than doubling.

The Rockets face a Toronto team that is actually a decent rebounding squad. Believe it or not, the Raptors are the NBA’s top defensive rebounding team, grabbing 75.4% of available boards on the defensive end. The only problem is that their opponents don’t miss very often. Teams are shooting 45.3% from the field against Toronto, resulting in a poor defensive rating of 106.1.

Expect Rockets to Push the Tempo

There should be a stark contrast in tempo for tonight’s game. Houston loves to push the ball up the court quickly and allow James Harden to exploit opportunities in the open floor so it’s no surprise that the Rockets average 94.9 possessions per 48 minutes, the second highest in the association.

On the other hand, the Raptors are 24th in the NBA with a pace factor of 91.1. All three of Toronto’s wins this season have come in games with a pace below the league average, so a faster game could prove problematic for the visitors.