Harden: Rockets to focus on chemistry

Harden: Rockets to focus on chemistry
October 5, 2013, 8:00 am
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After a summer of anticipation, the Rockets will finally hit the floor on Saturday night. It’s just a preseason game against New Orleans but it’s the first time fans will get to see the new-look squad.

“Chemistry. The biggest thing is our chemistry,” James Harden answered when asked what the team needs to work on most. “Coach can throw sets in and the defensive principles and things like that but if our chemistry is on point, we’ll be fine and it can work itself out. Our chemistry and our communication.”

The biggest new piece of the puzzle is center Dwight Howard, the Rockets’ prized free agent acquisition and one of the best big men in the league. Head coach Kevin McHale wants to see if Howard can play next to last year’s center Omer Asik, but he won’t see it on Saturday. Asik won’t play because of injury.

But still, the team is excited to play against a team other than its own.

“It’ll be nice to get everybody out there and play a game and go against some other people’s defensive concepts,” McHale said after Friday’s practice. “But we’re right now still putting in a lot of stuff. Might be a little ragged at times. But I think the guys find a way when there’s a crowd and there’s people in the stands to get pretty locked in and we’ll do a lot of stuff better than we have in practice.”

The formation of chemistry on the team started well before training camp began. The team met a couple times during the summer to work out together and the team seems to get along. Harden said players hand out often and several of them went out to dinner on Thursday evening.

“It’s good. Real good,” Harden said. “Guys are helping each other out, passing it and making the game a lot easier for one another. It’ll be a good test for us tomorrow as far as our first game. If we can do it in a live basketball game. It should be interesting but we’re ready for it.”

Harden said even though it’s a preseason game on Saturday, he wants to win. That’s part of his competitive nature.

“We’re not going to win a championship tomorrow,” Howard said, “but we’re going to go out there and play our best in front of the fans.”