Rockets' Daniels pulls off rare doubleheader

Rockets' Daniels pulls off rare doubleheader
April 13, 2014, 7:00 am
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The Rockets just wrapped up their final back-to-back set of games this season with their Friday night loss at Minnesota and Saturday night's 111-104 win in Houston over the Pelicans.

Rookie Troy Daniels was in uniform for both games and ended up playing a pretty large role in the Rockets come from behind victory against New Orleans. But unlike the rest of his teammates who played against the Pelicans, he was playing in his second game of the day.

Earlier on Saturday, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets D-League affiliate, played Game 2 of their opening round playoff series in Iowa and Daniels played just over 44 minutes in their 145-142 overtime loss.

Daniels scored 30 points on 6-of-17 from 3-point range and hit three clutch free-throws with 33 seconds left to tie the game at 141 before the Vipers ultimately fell.

He and teammate Robert Covington had dressed for the Rockets game Friday in Minnesota after being recalled earlier in the day, but did not play. They then flew to Iowa immediately after the game for the Vipers' noon tip-off on Saturday. About 15 or 20 minutes after that overtime game ended around 2:30 p.m. CT, the two hopped on a plane bound for Houston.

He said they arrived around 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. game, though he thought the game might be a lot like the game against Minnesota, when he did not play.

"To be honest, I didn't think I was going to get in," Daniels said after his rare doubleheader. "But up here in the NBA you always have to be ready and my number was called."

His number was called for the first time with 2:07 left in the third quarter, with the Rockets down 10 points. When the quarter ended, his stat line still had all zeroes, other than the 2:07 minutes played.

But he was beckoned by coach McHale a second time with 10:37 remaining in the game and he would not come out again. When he entered the game, the Rockets were facing what would be their largest deficit of the fourth quarter as they trailed by 12 points, 84-72.

He launched and miss three 3-pointers before connecting on one with 5:48 remaining in the game, to make the score 95-92. That was the closet the Rockets had been since there were five minutes remaining in the second quarter.

He missed one more 3-pointer, but he was part of the Rockets' stingy defensive effort that held the Pelicans scoreless for the final 2:48 of the game.

"It was a great experience," Daniels said after "Obviously my legs are tired, but it's my job to play in both games. Coach called my number, I was ready. It was hard work paying off. The first run down the court, I was a little nervous, but after that it was just a basketball game."

Daniels became the second player this season to play in a D-League game and an NBA game in the same day. Lorenzo Brown did so for the Delaware 87ers and the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 27. Brown played just five seconds for the 76ers that day in a game they never led and did not score.

Lakers guard Jordan Farmar was the first player to appear in a D-League game and an NBA game in the same day on April 1, 2007, when he started for the Los Angeles Defenders in the D-League, scoring 18 points, then scored four points for the Lakers, later that night. In Farmar's case, both games were played in Los Angeles.

For Daniels, his Vipers team had led most of the game against Iowa, thanks to his 30 points and teammate Darius Morris, who scored 51 points and set a D-League playoff record with 18 assists. Losing that game in overtime, which would have advanced the Vipers to the next round of the D-League playoffs, was on his mind when he played for the Rockets Saturday night.

"It definitely motivated me," Daniels said. "It was a tough loss when we lost to Iowa, we should have won that game. But it's just great to get the win here in Houston."