October 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Asik, Howard Starting Together — What To Look For

Dwight Howard and Omer Asik

Omer Asik was set to make his preseason debut on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks, but it got a whole lot more interesting on Sunday when coach Kevin McHale announced that he will try starting Asik and Dwight Howard together that night.

This will be the fourth power forward starter that McHale has tried in five preseason games for the Rockets as Asik joins Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones and Omri Casspi.

So now the science experiment gets really interesting as we get our first real look at two top 5 defensive centers playing together. I’ve been a big believer that this is not a sustainable lineup, that Asik and Howard on the floor at the same time is best suited for specific matchups or short bursts when the Rockets need elite paint protection.

It’s no secret that Asik has not been happy since the Rockets acquired Howard. He was a huge positive last year, yet he lost his starting spot after a tremendous season and is likely to see less playing time. Starting Asik could go a long way towards finding a lot of court time for him.

If it’s going to work, here are some of the questions we hope Monday night can help answer:
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October 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Former Rockets coach Bill Fitch talks with ClutchFans

Bill Fitch Houston Rockets

Bill Fitch coached the Twin Tower-era Rockets from 1983-1988

Growing up in the ’80s, I was a diehard Astros and Oilers fan, with basketball taking a distant third. It was the early-to-mid ’80s Rocket teams that I eventually fell in love with, and their coach was Bill Fitch.

So, it was truly an honor for me to have him on the ClutchFans Podcast today.

Fitch is an NBA coaching legend. The 9th winningest coach in NBA History with 944 wins, Fitch coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA Title in 1981 (against the Rockets), then coached the Rockets from 1983 to 1988, leading them to the Finals in 1986 (against the Celtics). Having coached Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, Kevin McHale and Larry Bird as rookies, Fitch offered some incredible insight into their early careers.

Fitch also shot down the rumor, written in Hakeem’s book, about the Rockets being offered a trade from Portland that would have sent Clyde Drexler and the #2 pick of the 1984 Draft (which would have been used to take Michael Jordan) to Houston for Sampson.

“The only time I ever heard that one was when I just talked to you,” said Fitch. “They were all rumors. No one ever put anything across my desk and, as far as I know, no one put a serious offer across Ray Patterson’s desk that he would have passed on to me.”

CSN Houston will debut tonight at 7:00pm “A Conversation with Bill Fitch”, part one of a two-part series that will replay multiple times this month. In the first installment, Rockets play-by-play announcer Bill Worrell sits down with Fitch to focus on his run with the Boston Celtics, the team’s championship in 1981 and his special relationship with Bird.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts | Tagged , , , |
October 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Rockets experiment with starting Beverley, bringing Lin off bench

Patrick Beverley starts over Jeremy Lin

Is Kevin McHale considering Patrick Beverley over Jeremy Lin as the starter?

We already knew the starting power forward spot was open to competition for the Rockets this October. As it turns out, the role of starting point guard could be as well.

In a move not announced until right before tip-off, Patrick Beverley joined today’s starting backcourt alongside James Harden and continued his strong month, notching 12 points (on 4-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-2 on threes), five rebounds and four assists in Houston’s 116-96 rout over the Pacers.

Most impressively, the Rockets outscored Indiana by 18 points in Beverley’s 26 minutes — the best plus/minus ratio of anyone on the Houston roster.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Lin also excelled in his new role as spark plug off the bench. In his 23 minutes, Lin relentlessly attacked the basket and created for both himself (14 points, 8-of-8 on free throws) and teammates such as Omri Casspi (17 points) and Donatas Motiejunas (16 points). Lin recorded a team-high five assists after repeatedly collapsing the Indiana defense with his drives.

So, what does this mean?
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Posted in Houston Rockets |
October 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

Patrick Beverley dominates Jrue Holiday (Video)

Patrick Beverley defends Jrue Holiday

Patrick Beverley put on a defensive display on Jrue Holiday in the fourth quarter

You wouldn’t think there would be a lot to be happy about after dropping a home opener to a team that dares to call themselves the Pelicans, but it was all roses for the Rockets Saturday night after their 116-115 loss to New Orleans.

Dwight Howard made his Houston Rocket debut and played very well, hitting 6-11 shots for 19 points, 9 boards, 3 assists and a block in 27 minutes. James Harden looked to be in midseason form, scoring 21 points in 28 minutes. Jeremy Lin looked sharp (11 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) and seemed to click with Howard at times while Chandler Parsons was very efficient playing off the stars, hitting 4-5 shots.

And to add to all that, the Rockets may have found some offense off the bench. Omri Casspi hit his first nine shots. It was a good first showing.

But what stole the show may have been the defensive play of Patrick Beverley in the early fourth quarter against New Orleans newcomer Jrue Holiday. This was ownership, head games of the highest order. Beverley flat picked Holiday’s pocket three times with on-the-ball pressure, then sandwiched those around a fourth block-like steal. Keep in mind — this is a player that was an All-Star point guard last year in the East. Yes, Holiday is turnover-prone, but what Beverley did to him shows how elite his defensive play can be for stretches.

“During my playing time, you’d punch Beverley in the face,” said Calvin Murphy in the postgame. “You can’t have him taking the ball from you in front of your mama and your wife.”

Take a look.

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged |
October 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Post-game interviews from the Rockets’ preseason opener

The Rockets fell 116-115 to the New Orleans Pelicans Saturday night in the 2013-14 preseason opener, but the outcome of the game really wasn’t important. What mattered was that the Rockets’ starters, including Dwight Howard (19 points, 9 boards, 3 assists and a block), thrived.

We’ll have more thoughts from our first look at the team this year, but here are the post-game interviews.

Dwight Howard

Kevin McHale

Jeremy Lin

James Harden

Posted in Houston Rockets |
October 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Day 7 of Houston Rockets Training Camp

We didn’t get to see any scrimmage today after getting to see plenty of it on Day 6. We’ll get our first real look soon enough as the preseason opener is Saturday against the Pelicans.

The real shock today was that Tracy McGrady was there to observe Rockets practice.

Here are a few random clips from after practice and interviews with the Rockets’ biggest stars.

McGrady talking to Harden, Dwight and Parsons/Motiejunas shooting threes

Here’s a little stalker video showing McGrady talking with Dwight Howard and James Harden after practice. The second part of the video shows Chandler Parsons and Donatas Motiejunas wrapping up their practice by finishing three-point shooting drills.

Robert Covington can really shoot

I didn’t notice this until I went back and watched the clip as I was just recording different parts of drills, but notice how rookie Robert Covington makes all six three-point attempts here. Shooting over 42% from long range for his four-year college career at Tennessee State, it’s evident that this guy can really shoot the ball.

Isaiah Canaan “Baby Bounce” Slam

As practice ended, Rookie Isaiah Canaan threw down this slam and knew he was going to hear about it from the reaction. One of the coaches (I believe Doug West) joked that he’s got that “baby bounce.”

Dwight Howard supports the Houston Texans

Dwight was asked if he has been to a Houston Texans game yet.

“I haven’t, but I heard they’re looking for a quarterback,” joked Dwight. Howard was quick to point out he was only kidding, but he asked for Houston fans to continue to stick with the Texans despite the recent cough-up against the Seahawks.

“You can’t be burning jerseys,” said Howard. “We got to stick with our boys.”

Dwight Howard responds to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Hall of Fame Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the ESPN show First Take this week and simply blasted Dwight Howard in an interview, basically saying that he’s a limited player who lacks the right mind and smarts for the game.

This was Howard’s response, and I thought it was a pretty mature reply.

James Harden Interview

isaiah canaan slam Day 7 of Houston Rockets Training Camp

dwight mcgrady harden Day 7 of Houston Rockets Training Camp

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged , , , , , |
October 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Tracy McGrady attends Rockets practice

Tracy McGrady James Harden and Dwight Howard

It’s not often that you get truly shocked by something, but that’s what happened to me Friday afternoon when I walked into Houston Rockets practice and saw former Rocket Tracy McGrady in the building to observe the scrimmage.

When we came in, it appeared that T-Mac was just finishing a conversation with GM Daryl Morey when James Harden walked over to him. They talked for some time, then Dwight Howard came over. Howard and McGrady spoke for about 20 minutes. T-Mac did not speak to the media.

I’m told he just came to hang out, though obviously you wonder if there is some other reason.

“Gettin’ some knowledge, gettin’ some knowledge,” said Harden of his talk with McGrady. “What he did here and how can he help me and how can I better myself as a basketball player and as a person? It’s always good to get the advice from the older guys who have been here and done that. It kind of helps me out. I just sit back and listen.”

Howard was drafted by the Orlando Magic the same summer when they traded McGrady to Houston. Both stars have now played in both cities.

“We do have a lot in common,” said Dwight Howard of McGrady. “We just talked about basketball and life and how he felt this was a great opportunity for myself, this team and the organization. It was a good talk.”

Howard said McGrady had good things to say about playing in this town.

“He said it’s great,” said Howard. “The fans are great. Great city. He believes we will have a great year.”

Photo: McGrady, Harden after practice

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged |
October 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Finally! First Scrimmage Footage of Dwight Howard with the Rockets

0 e1380829453578 Finally! First Scrimmage Footage of Dwight Howard with the Rockets Hallelujah.

It took a week, but the media was finally allowed in early enough to see some Rockets scrimmage action on Thursday (Day 6 of Training Camp). That means we got our first glimpse of Dwight Howard with his new Rocket teammates.

Dwight did have a couple of dunks, including an alleyoop feed from Omri Casspi. I thought Terrence Jones looked really good — he nailed a couple of threes, worked inside and hit the boards and slammed home a missed free throw just before the final buzzer. I thought Donatas Motiejunas looked good as well, hitting a long three early in the first game and scoring inside twice (one was a goaltending block by Dwight).

The Rockets’ coaching staff was really stressing that both teams push the tempo — that much was evident. White Team, led by Jones, Jeremy Lin and Aaron Brooks, knocked off the Black Team, led by Dwight, James Harden and Patrick Beverley. This was the full “second game” with lots of editing to save time on the video. We walked in during the “first game,” but Harden and Howard were both out of the game when we came in. The footage from the first game is now found below as well.

So here you go, hot off the press:

Houston Rockets Scrimmage Action

Additional Scrimmage Footage from the First Game

We came out on to the floor when this short scrimmage was pretty far along, so there’s not as much there. It was the first game, before the one you saw above this. Harden and Howard were out when we came in but quickly returned to the court. Motiejunas had some nice plays in this one.

Dwight Howard Slams

Harden to Ronnie Brewer to Howard for the slam

Casspi finds Howard for the alleyoop

Posted in Houston Rockets |