The Houston Rockets started off the preseason with a bang, winning 107-105 over the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder. I know it’s just the preseason but there is a lot to be excited about.
The game ball definitely goes to rookie Terrence Jones. The young man was a step ahead of everyone else. He showed off his entire arsenal, shooting from deep, dunking and blocking shots. He finished the night with 20 points on 8-14 shooting, 6 rebounds and 1 block in 25 minutes a game. Many Rockets fans on twitter were very impressed by his play, as were the announcers. It might just be one game but if he keeps this play up, he could be a house-hold name in no time.
Kevin Martin only played nine minutes in the opener, but he made his presence felt like were accustomed to. He shot 3-4 from the field and 4-4 from the line for a total of 11 points. Scoring is what the Rockets will need out of him this coming season, and if he can return to form and score more than 20 points a game they could potentially make a playoff run.
Jeremy Lamb continues to impress Rockets fans as he did in the NBA Summer League. He looks to be a star in the making with his shooting, athletic ability and defense. In 23 minutes he finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds and a block. I have a feeling were going to hear his name on a consistent basis throughout the season.
Marcus Morris was on his way to having a good night until he was taken out due to an injury. Just when everyone began to think Morris might be turning a corner, Hasheem Thabeet came flying in uncontrollably like usual and took Morris out under the basket. Morris finished the game with 7 points on 3-5 shooting and 1-2 from the line. Hopefully he can continue this play throughout the preseason. He will need to if he wants to earn any significant playing time.
New guys Donatas Motiejunas and Carlos Delfino struggled throughout the game. Delfino was more due to getting back in game form. He shot just 1-8 from the field for 3 points. Motiejunas just looked a step slower than everyone else. He was always in the wrong place, and when he was in the right place cutting to the basket he would stop short of getting to the basket and leaving his guards out to dry. He’s still very young and has a lot to learn before he can play with the big boys. It’s just game one of the preseason so hopefully he can get something going Friday night against the New Orleans Hornets.
Omer Asik looked very impressive in his debut for the Rockets. Doing exactly what Houston paid him to do, block shots, rebound and defend the paint. He also showed some chemistry between him and Jeremy Lin in just the first game. He got a couple of easy dunks down low and that’s all the Rockets really need out of him, easy buckets. He finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds. One thing that worries me is when Asik is on the bench. The Rockets interior defense is non-existent unless Asik is on the floor.
Now for Jeremy Lin. It was a tale of two tapes for him in his Rockets debut. He found his teammates with ease, finishing the game with 6 assists. He only took 3 shots and made just one, finishing with three points. He struggled while Russell Westbrook was on the floor. Lin’s defense looked very below average outside of the three steals he racked up. With that being said, he’s still not 100% just yet. His knee is still healing. It’s nearly impossible to stay in front of Westbrook so you can’t expect a guard coming off knee surgery just a couple months ago to play spectacular defense. Look for Lin to get stronger from game to game.
The Rockets are off to a great start in the preseason. These games may not count in the record books, but they do count when it comes to developing players and team chemistry. This is a very young team that needs all the practice they can get before game one of the regular season. If this is a sign of what to expect this coming season I will be very happy with the future of the Rockets.