The Houston Rockets have been quite the entertainment this season. At that, Rockets fans might wish that Ricky Gervais, a producer for The Office, or Modern Family producer/writer Christopher Lloyd would fashion the team's story into a sitcom.
This team is an interesting bunch. Three of the key players—Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and James Harden—are newcomers who arrived in Houston after their previous teams cast them off because they didn't want to pay them.
The Rockets have their share of ups and downs. They started 9-11 with three three-game losing streaks during that stretch. Since then, they've been 11-3 with four straight wins entering Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The players are the fun characters. Here's a look at a few:
Enter Harden, a budding star
Harden was a player who many people had their eyes on the past couple years. He scored 16.4 points per 36 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010-11 and 19.6 per 36 in 2011-12.
The 23-year-old cultivated an avatar of himself with his much-appreciated beard and his gunshot celebration after made shots. With his affability, all he needed was someone to powder on the makeup.
He knew what he could be and demanded the resources to fit that future. The Thunder wouldn't go for it. The Rockets did.
Now he's the biggest star and the banner attention-getter. He's earned it with his play. Harden's fifth in the NBA in scoring average, posting 26.4 points per game. He's scored 30 or more points 11 times.
No one would steal his spotlight, except perhaps another youngster
Enter Lin, the young man searching for himself
Lin had among the highest Q ratings of all celebrities last year with his February flash in the pan. He gained instant fame and attracted comparisons to Tim Tebow.
Then, he drifted, shooting 40.7 percent in 13 games in March before suffering a season-ending injury.
By the offseason, he was on the periphery, as far as the New York Knicks were concerned.
Since joining the Rockets, he's been desperately in search of that old magic, but it hasn't been easy. His scoring has been up and down, and he's hit double figures in only 18 of 34 games.
After averaging just 10.2 points per game in November, he improved to 13.8 per game in December while draining 48.6 percent of his shots.
Lin is still learning about efficiency. He averaged 2.9 turnovers against 6.4 assists in November. Those figures have worsened a bit—6.3 assists and 3.1 turnovers in the last 19 games.
The money has been fairly easy, but the success hasn't in recent months for the third-year pro.
Enter Asik, the fun guy down under
Asik was well-liked in Chicago, but he could never emerge from the shadow of Joakim Noah. Not a lot was seen of the Turkish center as he played only 14.7 minutes per game in 2011-12. Like Harden, he needed a new home to fulfill himself.
This third-year player has been a likable guy inside, in a sort of yes-man sense. Set a high screen? Sure. Defend the basket? Of course. Post a double-double? Uh, yeah.
He's played just about as projected. He hits shots, knocking down 52.5 percent of them from the field. He rebounds a ton—11.6 per game and 13.7 per 36 minutes.
His impressive discipline would make for a good storyline in the early episodes. Last year, he averaged 2.5 turnovers and 4.5 fouls per 36 minutes. The turnovers haven't improved, but the foul discipline has.
Imagine Kevin McHale eyeballing him, saying, "Don't drop it. Don't drop it. Ugh! Don't foul. Don't foul. Yes! Good man."
How will the rest of this story unfold?
The first half has been a ball thus far. One can only guess that the Rockets will be this fun to watch as the season progresses.
Some story lines will remain. Harden enjoys frequent high-scoring games. Lin wrings his hands, wondering when he'll find some consistency.
Fans can imagine a homestretch party when the Rockets play nine of 10 at home in March.
Another party will certainly come when this cast celebrates a playoff berth in April.
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