The second game of back-to-backs can often prove problematic for NBA teams. Star players are tired from having carried the load the night before, and reserves often get extra burn as teams delve into the benches for relief. Secondary and tertiary scoring options sometimes have to step up in these games, and in the Houston Rockets‘ 104-93 victory over the Utah Jazz, that person was Chandler Parsons.
Parsons frequently filled this role last season. When James Harden was struggling, Parsons would look more for his shots, and in the first half against the Jazz, Parsons had 21 of his 24 points and kept the Rockets close while Harden was struggling and taking fade-away threes.
The hope, of course, is that once Harden finally got going the Rockets would still be in the game. Parsons looked often to get to the basket and hit seven of his first 10 field goals.
Chandler Parsons is a special talent at 6’10” and has a silky smooth shot to go with his versatile offensive attack, and it may be that Parsons’ offensive bailouts are what keep this Houston team relevant.
Dwight Howard has a limited offensive arsenal, and other than Jeremy Lin, the Houston lineup isn’t replete with guys who can put the ball in the basket. Omer Asik and Dwight Howard hit a collective 6-of-12 from the floor, showing that the emphasis in the Houston offense remains on perimeter play.
The pick and roll was wildly ineffective throughout the night, and of the 17 pick and rolls the Rockets ran, Parsons had a role in four of them. It may be that he ends up being paired with Howard in such situations frequently, and that was the way the Rockets went for the first two offensive plays of the night. Both times it resulted in the ball being swung to Harden.
The Rockets will continue to refine the offensive attack, and last season offense wasn’t a problem. Utah Jazz broadcasters on league pass referenced the Rockets’ lack of scorers as a possible cause for failure, but it remains to be seen if that is really the case. Dwight Howard-based offenses don’t really rely on having traditional second and third options, but the Rockets haven’t really milked that inside-outside attack yet.
In the meantime, Parsons isn’t afraid to look for his shot while other guys are throwing up blanks. He finished with 24 points and a team-high 12 boards, to go with his six assists. That’s a well-rounded line for a guy whose recognition is still slow in coming, but Parsons’ role in saving the Rockets from drought can’t be underestimated.
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