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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, October 30th (All times Eastern)

Charlotte Bobcats (0-0) at Houston Rockets (0-0), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dwight Howard era in Houston opens Wednesday night, when the Rockets entertain the Charlotte Bobcats at the Toyota Center.

Howard was the biggest prize on the free agent market and the Rockets were fortunate enough to acquire his services. The seven-time All-Star and three- time Defensive Player of the Year opted to take his talents to Space City instead of Los Angeles (Lakers) and Golden State.

"This is very special. Words really can't explain how I feel about being here," Howard said. "It is a fresh start, a clean slate. I am looking forward to doing it in Houston with these beautiful fans behind me. I think it is going to be great. I am looking forward to embracing this city and giving them everything I got."

Howard's one season with the Lakers was not glamorous. The Lakers played well below expectations, squeaked into the playoffs and disbanded, due in large part to Howard's departure.

Through the disappointment of the 2012-13 campaign, Howard's numbers dipped, but were still extraordinary. He averaged 17.1 ppg (down almost 3.0 ppg from the previous season), but led the NBA in rebounding with 12.4 per game and finished fifth in the league in blocked shots at 2.45 a contest.

Howard will team up with fellow star James Harden, whose bruised knee shouldn't prevent him from playing Wednesday. Houston made the postseason with relative ease thanks to Harden and even took a few games from the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Rockets were the NBA's second-highest scoring team and one of the most storied 3-point shooting teams in history. Defensively, Houston finished 28th in a 30-team league in opponents' scoring under head coach Kevin McHale, who was a defensive stalwart in his playing days.

McHale already made one tough decision. He announced that Patrick Beverley will start at point guard over Jeremy Lin.

Overall, the Rockets should finish in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference and could even host a playoff series.

Charlotte is not expected to do much this season and that's par for the course with this franchise. The Bobcats went 21-61 last season and two seasons ago had the worst winning percentage in league history. If not for a labor- shortened season, Charlotte could have enjoyed the worst record ever.

The Bobcats suffered through an 18-game losing streak that spanned into a 1-15 December. They made an effort to improve by signing big man Al Jefferson to a three-year deal and he'll contribute immediately. Jefferson has averaged 18.9 ppg and 10.1 rpg over the last seven seasons, all the while staying relatively healthy.

"The Charlotte Bobcats did a great job coming at me (in free agency) and made me feel like they were a team that really respected my game and made me feel like a part of the family," Jefferson said.

He injured his ankle at the end of training camp and his availability for Wednesday night is in question.

Charlotte has a new man in charge in head coach Steve Clifford, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff. He will be the sixth different Bobcats coach in the last 10 years.

"I think the culture starts around the head coach and the team leaders," Clifford said at his introductory press conference. "They're going to set the tone every day in practice and set the tone for the intensity every night you play."

Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions hope to make Clifford's first season a smooth one.

The Bobcats lost both meetings with the Rockets last season and are winless in the last five games in this series. Charlotte has lost eight in a row in Space City.

10/30 10:12:55 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 5
PIT 2
Final
WISC 79
UNC 72
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHA
 
7:37pm Tonight
LOU
NCSU
 
9:45pm Tonight
DUKE
UTAH
 
Final
PIT 5
ATL 7
Final
DET 6
BAL 4
Final
STL 3
MIA 5
Final
BOS 5
MIN 4
Final
TAM 6
NYY 5
Final
TOR 4
PHI 1
Final
CLE 2
CIN 13
Final
SEA 0
KAN 3
Final
CWS 6
LOS 9
Final
MIL 15
SEA 1
Final
ARI 3
SDP 3
Final
WAS 3
NYM 8
Final
CHC 4
ANA 8
Final
TEX 6
COL 3
Final
SFG 4
OAK 6
1:05pm Today
ATL
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
STL
NYM
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
NYY
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
PIT
 
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
DET
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
TEX
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
CLE
 
6:05pm Tonight
HOU
MIA
 
9:05pm Tonight
KAN
SEA
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:05pm Tonight
CIN
MIL
 
10:05pm Tonight
LOS
SFG
 
Final
MIL 111
IND 107
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHA
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
LAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
BOS
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CLE
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
LAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
GSW
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
SAC
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
DAL
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
UTA
 
10:00pm Tonight
PHO
POR
 
Final
ND 81
WICHS 70
Final
WISC 79
UNC 72
Final
LALAF 82
EVAN 89
Final
KENT 78
WVU 39
Final
ARZ 68
XAV 60
7:15pm Tonight
GONZ
UCLA
 
7:37pm Tonight
LOU
NCSU
 
9:45pm Tonight
DUKE
UTAH
 
10:00pm Tonight
NARZ
KSU
 
10:07pm Tonight
OKLA
MSU
 
Final
BOS 2
ANA 3
Final
BUF 3
ARI 4
Final
NYI 2
LOS 3
Final
WAS 3
NJD 2
Final
CAR 5
PIT 2
Final
TOR 1
FLA 4
Final
TAM 2
NAS 3
Final
OTT 1
NYR 5
Final
DET 4
SJS 6
Final
WIN 5
MON 2
Final
VAN 1
COL 4
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CAL
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CLB
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
DAL