The 12 Days of Houston Rockets (and NBA) Christmas

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With Christmas upon us, deep into the NBA season, there are plenty of things to be thankful for from the bunch over on LaBranch. Despite a run of injuries and some key losses in the offseason to free agency and trades, the Rockets remain one of the best teams in the absolutely loaded Western Conference. It's so tough out West, that only a handful of games separate the best from teams in the 10 and 11 spot right now.

You may be sick of Christmas carols by now, but it seemed appropriate to have just one more with your egg nog, tree trimming and endless replays of A Christmas Story, this one Rockets-themed. Merry Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, the Beard for MVP.

With all due respect to Stephon Curry, James Harden is the best player in the NBA right now. Let's hope it stays that way.

On the second day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, Goran Dragic.

With one trade in the books, it seems unlikely the Rockets will stand pat. They clearly have their eye on the former Rocket and current Phoenix Sun point guard. His style of play would fit perfectly here, even more so than Rajon Rondo.

On the third day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, Terrence Jones healthy.

Jones has missed most of the season with damage to a nerve in his leg. While Donatas Montejunas has filled in admirably, Jones has made good progress his first couple seasons and they need him back.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, three-shooting Kostas.

One of the pleasant surprises has been rookie Kostas Papanikolaou. He has done an outstanding job filling in behind Trevor Ariza. The one thing everyone would love to see is him improving behind the three point line. With that addition, he could be deadly off the bench.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, first round victory.

Sure, five golden (or platinum) rings would be great too, but let's start by getting out of the first round for only the second time in nearly two decades.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, hot Ariza.

Pardon the workaround rhyme, Trevor Ariza had a hot start out of the gate, but has struggled thanks mainly to the heavy minutes he has had to log. With the addition of Corey Brewer, hopefully that will change and he will go back to his hot shooting ways.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, Daryl Morey magic.

All Rockets fans want the Wizard to wave his wand and drop a few solid additions into their stockings. If anyone can provide a Christmas miracle, it's Morey.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, suffocating defense.

Perhaps the most impressive and unexpected changes for this Rockets team is on the defensive end of the floor. They have gone from a mediocre team last year to one of the best this season despite losing one of their best defenders in Omer Asik.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, pesky Patrick Beverley.

Speaking of defense, no one is as aggravating to play against at point guard as Beverley. Other teams hate facing him and fans love him for it.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, better free throw shooting.

The Rockets remain in the bottom half of the league in percentage from the charity stripe. Much of that is thanks to Dwight Howard, but the team as a whole needs to improve.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Rockets gave to me, Dwight Howard smiling.

Who gives a crap what Kobe Bryant thought about Howard's jovial nature. Rockets fans love it, and when he is having fun, the Rockets are tough to beat, not soft as Bryant mouthed to Howard earlier this year.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the NBA gave to me, conference realignment.

Let's face it, allowing teams under .500 to get into the playoffs over teams that are well over it simply because they are in a crappy conference is a travesty. It's been that way since the '90s and it's time for the league to address it.

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