Trevor Ariza revisited
When Ariza jumped to Houston in the off-season, it was clear that the Rockets, without Yao Ming, were going to be a very short team and would need extra rebounding, scoring and defense from everyone in their lineup, notably Ariza.
This season, the Rockets rank in the middle of the league in most categories -- offense, 14th; defense, 14th; rebounding, 15th -- yet they've managed a 20-14 record and are currently seventh in the Western Conference standings. The numbers show they are an overachieving team.
Ariza gave up a chance for a title when he jumped to the Rockets, but he also got a chance to showcase his talents; he's no longer in the supporting cast as he was on the Lakers.
So far with Houston, Ariza probably deserves a B minus for his play. Ariza is averaging career bests in minutes (38.7 per game), field goal attempts (15.7), rebounds (3.7), steals (1.8) and points scored (16.2).
But Ariza isn't a very productive offensive player with Houston. He's shooting a career-low 37.8% from the field, his three-point shooting is a disappointing 31.2%, and though he was never a good free-throw shooter, he's doing worse than usual this season, 65% versus 65.9% for his career. (Remember last spring in the playoffs when Ariza could park himself at three-point line? He shot a whopping 46.5% in threes over 23 playoff games.)
According to 82.games.com, Ariza is being outscored by the opposition by 0.5 points a game when he's on the court, the seventh-best ranking on the Rockets.
Ariza also has flopped in the Rockets' two losses to the Lakers this season, shooting a woeful 7 for 33 from the field and is only 3 for 14 from beyond the three-point arc. Ariza clearly wants to show the Lakers they made a mistake by letting him go; so far, he hasn't managed to prove that on the court.
He gets another chance Tuesday night.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Trevor Ariza defends Kobe Bryant in a game at Staples Center in November. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times