Rockets set to start Howard, Asik together

Rockets set to start Howard, Asik together
October 21, 2013, 12:00 pm
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3-Pointers: Howard, Asik starting together

The Dallas Mavericks are in town Monday night to face the Houston Rockets in their last preseason home game. But it will be a lot more about a first, not necessarily a last. It will be the first time that Omer Asik has played this preseason. It will be the first time he and Dwight Howard will play together. And they will be in the starting lineup when the Rockets host the Mavericks at 7 p.m.

“It’s a good challenge, I’m up for it, I’m going to do the best I can,” Howard said after Monday’s shootaround in reference to playing with another big like Asik. “I want him to feel wanted. I like him. I want us to be able to work together and work through this. Not just playing together, but him coming in, subbing for me. That 1-2 punch of me and him, I think it’ll be deadly if we both sell out to it.”       

Asik led the league in total rebounds last year with 956. Howard finished second with 945. Howard was first in rebounds per game last year at 12.4. Asik finished third at 11.7.

Coach Kevin McHale said after Sunday’s practice he was more focused on how things would work out for the duo on the defensive end of the floor because they are both used to playing in the paint and defending the basket. A point that Howard seemed to agree. 

“Instead of running back to the paint, I’ll have to run back to the three point line,” he said. “That’s tough for me, since I’m used to being the first guy to protect the basket.”

Howard added that he will be the power forward. Not quite a “stretch” four, like most of the rest of the Rockets power forwards, but he will have to adjust his thinking a bit.

Since he believes he’ll be out on the perimeter just a bit more than usual, the possibility exists that he could shoot a 3-pointer, something he’s joked about since his arrival and it is something he can be shooting at the conclusion of practice. When asked if he’d be shooting one on Monday, he said, “I can’t tell you guys that. We drew up a couple of plays, but I can’t tell you when we’re going to use them. You’ll just have to wait and see.”

He said his goal this year is shoot 50 percent from three-point range this year. He said all he has to do is take two and make one of them.

Based on his career numbers, that appears to be a rather lofty goal. He made one 3-point shot in his eight years in Orlando (1-33). He made one 3-point shot in his one season in Los Angeles (1-6). That’s just a shade over five-percent shooting for his career. He has yet to launch a 3-pointer in the first four preseason games.