Rockets go 'big' at Saturday's practice

Rockets go 'big' at Saturday's practice
October 19, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Rockets work with bigger rotations Saturday

The Rockets have been banged up since training camp opened three weeks ago and throughout preseason. That has prevented them from experimenting with all the different rotations they’d like to try, especially with so many new faces.

Center Marcus Camby hasn’t seen any action so far because of a foot injury. He’s trying to rehab it for now in order to avoid surgery. Other big men who have been missing include Omer Asik, who’s been out with a calf injury, and Greg Smith, who has been limited with a hip injury.

Camby is still out, but Asik returned for his first full practice on Thursday and Smith returned on Saturday, giving the Rockets a near-complete squad at Saturday’s practice. Jeremy Lin was also back on Saturday after missing Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s practice with a sinus infection.

“It actually is almost a little bit easier when everybody is healthier because you got more bodies rotating in and out and you can get out of drills and actually get a little breather,” Rockets forward Chandler Parsons said.

“It was nice,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We had a lot more big bodies. It was more competitive – you could really see that. With all the big bodies out there, there was less space offensively, more bodies put on each other rebounding, so it’s good to have all that. Just having Greg (Smith) and Omer (Asik) back together, you add a lot of beef.”

The Rockets took advantage of finally being able to experiment with a bigger lineup, including a handful of players at power forward.

“We got a lot of guys that are playing there – D-Mo (Donatas Motiejunas), Terrence (Jones), Omri (Casspi) has done a great job when we play small,” McHale said. “We’re going to start moving Dwight and Omer together to look at that, so we’ve got a lot of options.”

“Today I had the opportunity to be Dirk Nowitzki, so I was able to come off screens and shoot threes, so that was a lot of fun,” Dwight Howard said. 

When the Rockets use a lineup with Howard playing the four-spot and Asik playing the five, they feel that will give them a huge advantage regarding mismatches on both ends of the floor.

“If we’re all running, it doesn’t matter who’s defending us,” Howard said. “They got to stop the ball and if they’re worried about myself or ol’ Rocky – I call Omer ‘Rocky’ – so they got to stop me or Rocky from running the floor, then that leaves the guys open for threes and that’s going to be tough to be able to stop two bigs that are running every possession. It really doesn’t matter who picks us up on the offensive end. Our focus is on defense first.”

When Howard plays defense at the four, he’ll have to cover more ground as opposed to just owning the lane.

“That’s something I got to get used to again,” Howard said. “I did it for a while in Orlando but nothing’s too hard for ‘Rocket Man.’”

With so many moving parts, the Rockets are excited about all the different lineups they are hoping to use.

“We can play big, we can play small, we can play fast, we can spread, we can do a lot of different lineups, and hopefully with our versatility we'll be able to clamp down defensively half court and then we'll be able to push it,” Lin said. “I think we'll be able to give other teams a lot of different looks to see what they can take.”