The defensive juggernaut

Who was the best key defender in Rocket’s history?

In Rocket's history there have been three key defenders. Shane Battier, Trevor Ariza, and PJ Tucker have been dominant on the defensive side for the Rockets. But the main question is who was the best?

Shane Battier played in Houston for four seasons and was a great necessity to the team. Battier played extremely hard against different opponents like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James. Battier would guard any team's toughest opponent. The biggest trick Battier would use was put his hand in the defender's face. Battier would use his hands to disrupt the shot from going off. He made NBA All-Defensive Second Team two times with the Rockets. He would never let off the gas when it came to guarding an offensive opponent. Battier was also helpful on the offensive side as well by making clutch three-point shots. His numbers never blossomed offensively, but he made shots when they counted.


Shane Battier's defense on Kobe Bryant (2009 playoffs) youtu.be


In all honesty, Battier's career was wasted in Houston. He did play is role to perfection but the team itself would fall short because of injuries. Battier was traded back to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2010 then won two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat.

Trevor Ariza was brought to Houston in 2009-10 because of the success he had with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even though Ariza stayed in Houston for a year, he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets. Daryl Morey decided to bring Ariza back after the Rockets lost Chandler Parsons to free agency in 2014. Ariza was able to use his length and athleticism to guard opponents. He also had great lateral quickness to stay in front of people. His best attribute was to fight and chase opponents around screens. Ariza would guard anybody who would cause a threat to the Rocket's defense.


Trevor Ariza Defense On Russell Westbrook , March 23, 2017 youtu.be


Ariza was a better scorer than Battier because of his shooting and ability to finish on fastbreaks. He had a quick trigger when it came to taking shots. Ariza was faulted for the 22 missed threes against the Golden State Warriors in game seven though. Houston decided to let him walk into free agency because of the money he requested.

PJ Tucker is a big body that Houston got in free agency when he left Toronto. Even though Tucker is 6'6 ft, he is very strong and has great feet. Do not let Tucker size fool you from defending players who are bigger, smaller, and taller than him. Tucker can stick with any opponent in the league. He has great hands that allows him to be disruptive in the passing lanes. Players also have tough time getting their shot off because he defends the shot well.


P.J Tucker Lockdown Defense on Kawhi Leonard Rockets @ Clippers 12/19/19 youtu.be


Tucker has become real good corner three-point shooter for the Rockets. He is shooting 49% from the left corner this season. Tucker is not much of scorer but has his moments. His moments really come in the playoffs. He shot 45% percent in the playoffs last year

Tucker and Battier are both tangible because they are great with their hands.

Each player was valuable but who is the most important defensively? Let the tapes tell the story.

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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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