I watched the first half between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks last night and WOW, Ron Artest was the difference maker in that game. Offense and defense, he made plays all night and if they didn't have Artest , they probably would've lost to the Mavs.

I really like what Artest brings to the Rockets defensively (which is his specialty after all). As Reggie Miller points out in the clip, Artest is built like a linebacker but has hands as quick as a point guard. That really helps in his ability to both body up his check but also to poke loose balls away. Watch first the 'wired' segment with Rafer Alston and a nice Artest steal,


What facilitates the steal is the trap set up by the Rockets. They decide to trap the ball screen on the wing,

Help Side:

The help side is key, once the ball is passed out of the trap. Your help side defenders need to split the 2 open offensive players. In this case, Artest is the guy that has to do that by providing help until the primary defender can recover out of the trap. Once he does, then he can bump Artest back to his original defender,


Now, this is where Artest really will pay off for the Rockets. He has that ability with the quick hands to disrupt passing lanes. He deflects the ball and is off and running,


Now we all know about Artest's temperament, his multiple-personality disorder. If he can remain level-headed the whole year and stay out of trouble (which will be a problem as he already got into a minor scuffle in this game breaking up Yao and Josh Howard) then he will be a huge asset for the Rockets, especially in the playoffs when it's all about defense. The Mavs looked decent, but their defense was suspect. They will need to sharpen up that area of their game, but their offense was looking good.

For a new video on ball denial man defense, take a look at Frank Martin's new DVD on Ball Denial Defense. Coach Martin is the men's head basketball coach at Kansas State. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.