Jan 7, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) shoots over Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) during the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
The Rise of the Bench:
When Dwight Howard went down to miss 11 games and other key members joined him on the injured list Houston’s bench became depleted as many were forced into starring roles.
The Rockets bench languished at the bottom of the Association as a result. Then as members returned to health including Howard the team was faced with the issue of learning to play beside players they weren’t accustomed to spending time with on the court.
This situation was compounded by the addition of newly acquired players via the trade that brought Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved to Houston. Subsequently when Josh Smith was acquired and reassigned to the bench something interesting occurred.
The Rockets who had been mired at the bottom of the Association for productivity and efficiency began to rise like a rocket (no pun intended) up the ladder.
Their effort versus Cleveland was arguably their best this year. Specifically Corey Brewer who has meshed seamlessly into the Rockets scheme immediately has found a real groove playing beside his headband buddies Jason Terry and Josh Smith.
By night’s end these 3 had combined to put up some pretty impressive numbers: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
The production of these 3 players completely dwarfed the production of Cleveland’s entire bench who scored a mere 13 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and had only 2 assists.
Most telling was the plus-minus differential of the head band brigade: Terry was a plus +7, Brewer had the second best differential of plus +16 and Smith led the team with the best differential of plus +21. An impressive showing by the Rockets’ bench.
Next: A Rocket finds his mojo?