Parsons feels Asik, Howard duo is huge
After an admittedly sluggish start in their 108-104 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, the Rockets were right back at it on Thursday.
“We had a good, hard day today,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “After the way we played last night, we wanted to get them in here and get a good, hard day in.”
“That first quarter we gave up way too many points,” Rockets guard James Harden said. “I don’t know if we’re still way too jet-lagged from the Philippines, but today we got after it in practice. It felt a little bit more normal.”
McHale said the focus was on the same things they’ve been working on – ball movement, offensive and defensive transition, moving the ball from side-to-side. Although post offense was a concern after the Rockets had trouble getting the ball inside to center Dwight Howard against the Magic, McHale said they didn’t really work on that aspect of the offense.
“Not as much as we’re going to. We did more individual one-on-one stuff.”
Rockets guard Jeremy Lin, who was sent home Wednesday night because he wasn't feeling well, did not practice on Thursday.
But a welcomed addition to practice was center Omer Asik. After being out then limited in practice with a calf injury he’s been battling since the beginning of training camp, Asik was back for his first full practice.
“That’s a nagging injury,” Rockets forward Chandler Parsons said. “I went through that same injury last year and it’s nothing to mess around with, so it’s definitely good to have him back and practicing and getting him ready for the regular season.”
“He looked really good – explosive, strong, finished the ball real well, ran the floor real well,” Harden said. “Omer is a very important part of this team. He played very well last year.”
Parsons echoed that feeling.
“The year he had last year – he’s going to build off that, and having Dwight here now working with him every day is only going to make him better.
“He’s a top five, top 10 center easily in the league and to have him either coming off the bench or staring at the 4, it’s a valuable option that we can have. It gives us a versatile look where we can go big with both of them and just have that insurance of having him being able to come in if Dwight ever gets into foul trouble and stuff like that, so it’s huge to have another center that’s just as good.”
And of course battling each other on a regular basis is a huge advantage for Asik and Howard.
“They’re both going to get so much more prepared just going at each other every single day, every single drill,” Parsons said. “It’s not going to be easy for either of them. They’re both very good defensively, so offensively they’re both going to have a tough time scoring on each other. It’s going to be good to see them battle every day.”
Although Howard is glad to have Asik back and is looking forward to working with him, he said his improvement and level of play is more about his preparation.
“For me it’s not about anybody guarding me, it’s how well I prepare myself to go out there and battle. So, anytime I’m on the floor my mentality is to beat the guy that I’m playing against every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s Omer or anybody else.”