Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has resisted giving his rookies big minutes all season. While Jalen Green has been a starter, Alperen Sengun and Josh Christopher have had to fight for their minutes.
Due to injuries and illness, Sengun and Christopher joined Green in receiving big minutes in their showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. The trio of rookies were given expanded roles and responsibilities in their 139-130 overtime victory and rewarded Silas’ faith.
Green led the team in scoring with a career-high 32 points, including the first seven in overtime, Sengun chipped in with a career-high 21 points and 15 rebounds in a career-high 40 minutes, and Christopher scorched the nets with 21 points in 22 minutes.
All told, the Rockets' rookie trio combined for 74 points and led the team in scoring. However, the rookies weren’t the only youngsters to contribute on the night.
Kenyon Martin Jr (21 years old) added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Kevin Porter Jr (21) scored 10 points and dished 10 assists. Of the Rockets' 139 points, 101 came from players 21 years or younger.
The Rockets youth was in stark contrast to the Lakers, who have the oldest roster in the league and relied on LeBron James (37), Russell Westbrook (33), and Carmelo Anthony (37) to play big minutes.
The Rockets' victory over the Lakers moves their record to 17-49. With another high draft pick likely coming and a burgeoning core of young players, the Rockets won’t be in the basement for much longer. If their game against the Lakers taught us anything, it’s let the kids play.