Howard tries to make 7-of-10 3s for McHale
The Rockets returned to practice after a day off on Friday but still weren’t feeling fully rested since returning from their trip to Asia Sunday night.
“Oh no, man, no way,” Rockets center Dwight Howard said. “Waking up at three, four in the morning, can’t sleep. It’s still tough, but we’re getting there. The more we practice and get up and down and try to rest after that, it will be big for us.”
Injuries have been preventing the Rockets from practicing with a full squad. Among those nursing injuries are Marcus Camby (foot), Greg Smith (hip) and Jeremy Lin missed Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s practice with a sinus infection. Also, center Omer Asik has been battling a calf injury since the beginning of training camp and finally returned to his first full practice on Thursday.
But on Saturday, everybody was able to practice except Camby, and the team was able to go hard in an intense session and take advantage of all the extra bodies.
“It was good to have everybody back,” Rockets forward Chandler Parsons said. “We had a lot of guys, so it was good to get fresh bodies in and out of drills and everyone really competed and went hard today. We got up and down and had a lot of size out there. When everyone’s out there, we got a lot of big, long guys.”
“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.”
“We focused on defensive stuff, talked about transition,” Lin said. “Today we were going after it. We were just playing and getting our rhythm back.”
And more bodies meant the Rockets were able to experiment with different rotations more than they've been able to in the past.
“We went big today for a drill and it went good,” Parsons said. “Those guys are so big and they take up so much space, it’s definitely a good look that we can go with when we play a bigger team like a Memphis.”
A near-full squad also meant more competition.
“It’s good to have everybody healthy so in case someone else goes down you just have more bodies and practice gets that much more competitive because people are playing for minutes,” Parsons said.
“This team is very competitive as it is, but fighting for spots makes guys fight a little bit harder and that’s good.”