Only preseason, so sights like Jeremy Lin coming off the bench for the Houston Rockets shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, if the Daryl Morey and Kevin McHale’s of the world plan on making this new Dwight Howard project work, they better not leave James Harden with Patrick Beverley when things become a bit more serious.
The Rockets won 116-96 in a game that seemed to be more about the fans in the Philippines, a basketball-crazed country, that showed Dwight Howard what they think of him, and how far and deep their adoration for Kobe Bryant goes. Howard was booed by big parts of the 13,000 fans in Mall of Asia arena, who kept on chanting Kobe Bryant’s name. Maybe it had something to do with Howard making only 4 of his 11 field goal attempts, and going back to his usual malfunctions from the line, finishing with only 1-for-4.
He played 24 minutes, but scored only 9 points, as the Rockets enjoyed some strong performance from their perimeter players. James Harden was very hard to stop as the Indiana Pacers seemed a bit overwhelmed by the foreign surroundings, taking a lot more time to get used to the new place on the NBA’s preseason Asian tour. He had no problem finding his way into the paint, getting to the line 10 times, finishing with 21 points.
Patrick Beverley had a strong performance in the lineup with 12 points, while Jeremy Lin came off the bench to play 23 minutes, also having a very strong performance in a great start to the preseason for him, scoring 14 points, adding 6 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the line. Lin might be the starting point guard, but more than one person will tell you there’s quite a few points he has to prove in this preseason in order to make it clear for McHale that he is the best choice in the backcourt next to Harden.
Someone’s who is having a very strong preseason as well is Omri Casspi, showing what a useful outside weapon he can be for the Rockets this season, depending on the lineup he’s used in. He came off the bench along with Donatas Montiejunas and scored 17 points (2-of-5 from beyond the arc), adding 10 rebounds as well. He’s averaging 18.5 points per game in the preseason, shooting 50% from the outside.
I told them I will change starting lineups every game to see what happens. They’re aware of it. n this game, I saw D-Mo (Motiejunas) having a great synergy with Omri Casspi and the bench was just energized.
These players will probably be a lot more crucial when it’s time to review the season for the Rockets. Harden is going to be great, and Dwight Howard’s minimum ability puts him among the top 5 centers in the NBA. The production this team gets from Lin (depending on how they use him), Chandler Parsons, Casspi, Montiejunas, Terrence Jones and Greg Smith is going to be the determining factor in how well this does, and how far it goes in the playoffs.