Fighting words

Rockets hit the road running

James Rincon

Slap some sequins on me and call me Elton, because this year it’s going to pay to be a Rocket man.

Acquiring talented yet transient Ron Artest will add a deadbolt to the lockdown defense that the Rockets already have. Yao is back in action with high spirits after an emotional trip to the Olympics in which he and fellow Rocket Luis Scola proudly represented their respective countries. Scola is a monster in international play, and his Olympic swagger won’t wane when he returns to the Rockets.

The Suns will self-destruct trying to accommodate Shaq into their run-and-gun style. The Spurs, though always a threat, are looking old and tired these days. The Mavs traded too many young talents for Jason Kidd. Barron Davis left the Warriors and took about 15 wins with him.

Houston will have to worry about the Lakers and Hornets come playoffs, but if they can somehow put a leash on Chris Paul, the Rockets are clear for takeoff, and this year the sky’s the limit.

Healthy players important to Houston’ season

Matt Miller

How far the Rockets go in the playoffs is dependent on two factors – their health and how well Ron Artest meshes with his teammates.

Another thing to consider is depth, which becomes more important in the playoffs. By adding Brent Barry and D.J. Strawberry and re-signing Carl Landry, the Rockets have bolstered their bench.

Despite its depth, however, Houston will not go far without a healthy trio of Artest, Tracy McGrady and Yao. If Yao can pick up where he left off before his foot injury last season, Houston will have a lot to be excited about.

As long as Artest is content with not being the first option offensively, the Rockets should break their first-round exit streak. Critics say Artest could cause problems for the Rockets, but he’s got too much money at risk to not behave.

There will be bumps in the road for the Rockets, but as long as the bumps don’t become hills Houston should contend for an NBA title.

New and improved Rockets have shot at NBA title

Rodney Leonhardt

Last season’s team that was pretty solid – at least that’s what winning 22 games in a row with an ailing T-Mac and a sidelined Yao (earlier in the streak) implies – but if you thought Houston was good then, you’d better hold on to your sequins, James.

Artest’s presence will be felt on both sides of the ball, especially with the 20 points per game he had last season. Brent Barry serves a dual purpose as veteran athlete and mentor on the squad. Carl Landry is a strong power forward the Rockets will be glad they chased, now and in the future. Add D.J. Strawberry and Joey Dorsey in the mix and throw them in with a group including Rafer "Skip to my Lou" Alston and Shane Battier, and the Rockets are essentially a blueprint of success.

Given the team’s health doesn’t take a hit like it did last year, it should have no problem getting past the first round and into uncharted waters for T-Mac and an opportunity to clinch a third title for Houston.

Judge disdains all and everything sissy – ever

Judge Dredd

Sequins? Elton John? Do Judge Dredd’s eyes deceive him? No, that can’t be it, because super-deadly laser eyes also make for perfect vision.

James dared to bring sissy stuff into the realm of Fighting Words and the thought he would not be punished.

Two weeks probation is what awaits James! For the entirety of his probation he will be forced to watch the Godfather trilogy. That should knock the sissyness out of him.

As for the Rockets, they should be a lock for the Western Conference Championship. The acquisition of Artest could have the most impact of any free agent signing over the last 10 years. The guy epitomizes the complete player. Considering what the Rockets had before he got here and whether they can mesh at the right time, their starting five could arguably be the best in the NBA.

The winner: James is disqualified for excessive sissyness and Rodney wins.


Too bad about your Dolphins, Dredd. That "wildcat offense" sure is fancy. It’s just a shame your defense has never heard of a quarterback sneak. Go Texans!

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