Howard on Asik: 'I understand it's tough for him'
The Houston Rockets have packed a lot into the first ten games of the season. They’ve played an overtime game. They’ve played a double overtime game. They’ve already endured three sets of their 20 back-to-back games.
Four times in just their last five games, their opponent has made a 3-pointer in the final five seconds to change the game. Luckily, in their game against the Knicks, that 3-pointer made by Carmelo Anthony with the Rockets clinging to a three-point lead, was waved off and the Rockets emerged with the victory.
Six different players have already had to go to the locker room during games due to injury. Pat Beverley with his rib, James Harden for his back, Jeremy Lin with a cut on his chin, Omri Casspi with his ankle, Aaron Brooks with his ankle and in Thursday night’s game, Greg Smith suffered an MCL sprain just 40 seconds after checking into that game.
They have also used four different starting lineups. Most of the changes have been the result of the aforementioned injuries. One change has not and it could be a lingering issue for the Rockets.
For the two games on the just-completed road trip and for the foreseeable future, center Omer Asik is not coming off the bench and Terrence Jones is starting. Reportedly that decision, compelled Asik to demand a trade for the second time since Dwight Howard joined the team.
Asik played only four minutes on Wednesday against Philadelphia and then did not play at all on Thursday night, but head coach Kevin McHale said he had told him before the game he was ill and could not play. He remained in uniform on the bench the entire game. Several players have been dealing with flu-like symptoms over the last week.
“I understand his frustration with minutes and sharing the floor. I understand it’s tough for him,” Howard said. “The only thing I can do is be his friend off the court and help him in any way I can. I know it’s a very tough situation for him."
Asik led the NBA in total rebounds last season and was third in rebounds per game.
“He had a great year last year and to bring in someone over him, it’s got to be a little frustrating,” Chandler Parsons said. “But it’s part of business and you have to be professional about it.
“He’s been fine to me, I kind of stay out of it. He’s frustrated a little bit right now,” Parsons added. “As his teammate, I try to keep encouraging him and (I’m) making sure his head is in the right place because we’re going to need him throughout the season.
“(Since) Greg Smith goes down, Marcus Camby gets surgery, he’s going to play a lot of minutes, I don’t know what he’s so upset about. He’s got to come out here and perform and be a professional about it.”
The Rockets face the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night at Toyota Center. The Nuggets are without center Javale McGee and will use undersized J.J. Hickson and Kenneth Faried at the center position. The Sixers and Knicks also were rather short on big players and it remains to be seen how McHale plans on using Asik moving forward.