Terrence Jones standing out in starting role

Terrence Jones standing out in starting role
November 25, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Rockets forward Terrence Jones impressive as starter

(USA Today Sports Images)

Terrence Jones is making the most of his opportunity as a starter.

After the Rockets drafted the forward at No. 18 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, Jones spent most of his rookie year in the with Houston's entry in the NBA Developmental League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, before being called up towards the end of the season as a bench player. Heading into this season, Jones was one of the Rockets' options to start at power forward, but they decided to experiment with the Twin Towers – playing Dwight Howard at the 4-spot and Omer Asik at center.

That lasted the first eight games before Howard was moved back to center and Jones made his first career start at Philadelphia on Nov. 13. He's started every game since. In his six career starts so far, Jones is averaging 15 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.67 blocks and impressing his coach and his teammates.

“Terrence has played really well,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “I’m really happy for Terrence.  He’s really worked hard and he’s really getting a comfort level right now, and his skill set blends in well with the other guys – he can handle it, he can make some passes, spread the floor.”

“What he brings to the table is rebounding, defense, ability to make plays, finish around the rim, cut right, spacing, hit 3s – he’s been doing it all for us,” Rockets guard Jeremy Lin said. “I don’t know if there is anybody that’s been playing better than he has over the last week, so everybody’s really happy for him.”

“He brings a lot to the game,” Rockets guard James Harden said. “Defensively he’s very long and active, rebounds the basketball well. Offensively he’s knocking the 3 down now, but he handles the ball very well. When has a bigger forward closing out on him, he can make plays for his teammates which is the style we play, so he’s the X factor going into every single night.”

What's even more impressive is that Jones has started and held his own against some of the best power forwards in the game today, including the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki and the Timberwolves' Kevin Love. Monday night he'll face the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph.

“He’s seeing it early and as time goes on, he’ll get used to it and more comfortable and he’ll just be going out there and playing the way he knows how to play,” Harden said.

“Terrence is going to learn as he goes,” McHale said. “He had to guard Carmelo and Carmelo went for 45, which can happen. He guarded Dirk – those guys are great players. I told him, 'When you play against great players, you just got to make them earn it and keep a hand up, be disciplined defensively,' and he’s just getting better and better.”