Archive for the ‘ Houston Rockets Blog ’ Category

steve nash

Even going into their meeting with Dwight Howard to convince him to re-sign, Lakers point guard Steve Nash thought Howard re-signing was unlikely.

“Frankly, I thought before the meeting that we really didn’t have a chance,” said Nash on the “Mason & Ireland Show” on ESPN L.A. (710) on Tuesday. “I’d like to think that after the meeting, we had a chance, but ultimately, I think Dwight wasn’t comfortable here and didn’t want to be here.”

Nash was part of the Lakers’ contingent last week that tried to sway Howard to stay. Instead, the All-Star center chose to join the Houston Rockets as a free agent.

“If he doesn’t want to be here, there’s no point for anyone in him being here, so we wish him the best and move on,” Nash said. “I heard he said to the media that he ever quite felt embraced in L.A.  He never quite felt maybe supported, and that’s basically it.  In some ways you can read into that what you will.”

Reported by Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard downplayed Kobe Bryant’s pitch as a reason for leaving the Lakers for Houston and claimed he was already a winner in an interview with The Times’ T.J. Simers.

In the Lakers’ meeting with Howard on Tuesday, Bryant reportedly told Howard he should listen to Bryant more often to learn how to become a champion.

“People twisted a lot of things he said,” Howard said Friday night. “I haven’t won a championship but I’m in the NBA. That’s winning. I’m blessed to be able to play this game, blessed to come out of back surgery. Winning isn’t all about just having a championship, but winning in life. Kobe never challenged that and nothing he said had anything to do with my decision. I respect Kobe, know who he is, but this is about me and going in a different direction.”

Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard has agreed to terms with the Houston Rockets, joining an up-and-coming team with one of the NBA’s most dynamic young players while becoming the biggest free-agent name to ever turn his back on the Lakers.

He ditched the Lakers despite their very public campaign to retain him, including numerous billboards around Los Angeles with his image and the simple slogan “STAY.”

But Howard left, eschewing pitches from Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and a team of Lakers executives in a lengthy meeting Tuesday in Beverly Hills…

Howard declined a five-year, $118-million contract offer from the Lakers to accept a four-year, $88-million deal with the Rockets, his third team in an 11-month period.

“Walt Disney said, ‘Big risks, big rewards,’” Howard said. “He put everything he had into ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ and the sky was the limit. Now there’s Disneyland and Disney World.

“It’s a big sacrifice leaving $30 million. Really, really a big sacrifice. But I want to win a championship and I want to get back to being the person who I am and have some fun and enjoy playing basketball. And I think that’s what I’ll find in Houston.”

Reported by Mike Bresnahan and T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times

Rockets meet with Howard as NBA free agency opens

The Houston Rockets have met with Dwight Howard to begin the NBA’s free agency period.

With Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler joining them, the Rockets pitched Howard on leaving Los Angeles and joining All-Star James Harden in Houston.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wrote on Twitter early Monday that it great meeting with Howard and that having Olajuwon and Drexler there ”made it obvious how (Howard and Harden) could be the next (great) big/wing combo.”

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

aaron brooks

With NBA free agent negotiations starting tomorrow, the Houston Rockets are parting ways with a pair of players.

Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has waived guard Aaron Brooks and guard/forward Carlos Delfino.

Brooks (6-0, 161, Oregon) returned for his fifth season with the Rockets in 2012-13, averaging 1.4 points and 0.9 assists in seven games with Houston.

Delfino (6-6, 230, Argentina) averaged 10.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.01 steals in 67 games (five starts) in his lone season with the Rockets.

The Houston Rockets used the 34th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to select Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan (pronounced Cannon).

“I was so hyped to see my name come across the board and just glad to be a part of the Houston Rockets,” said Canaan on being drafted by Houston. “I’ve always been the underdog and I’m thankful that Houston believes in me. I’m really looking forward to getting there and showing what I’m capable of doing. I’m a competitor. I’m a winner.”

Canaan (6-0, 188, Murray State) played in 132 career games over four seasons at Murray State, averaging 15.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds. Overall, Canaan scored over 2,000 points in his collegiate career (2,050) while shooting 304-of-725 (.419) from beyond the arc. He was named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year as a junior and OVC Co-Player of the Year as a senior. The Biloxi, Mississippi native also earned Honorable Mention All-America honors from the Associated Press as a senior after ranking first on team in scoring (21.8 ppg), assists (4.3 apg) and steals (1.5 spg). Canaan, who scored in double figures in all 31 games in 2012-13, netted a season-high 35 points against Morehead. He added 22 points, a career-high 10 assists and nine rebounds against Belmont State. As a junior, Canaan also ranked first on team in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (3.6 apg).

“Isaiah is one of the best shooters to come out off college in awhile,” said Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey on Canaan. “He is not just an elite 3-point shooter, but he can take people off the bounce and fill it up, and do it efficiently. He is a tough kid and a really good kid. Isaiah is someone ready to play. I really see a player who is going to succeed.”

kevin durant

Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Kevin Martin added 25 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-94 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night, sending them to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season.

The Rockets were looking to become just the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0.

But the Thunder opened the fourth quarter with a big run to take the lead and cruised to the victory.

Martin finally gave the Thunder someone to take scoring pressure off Durant for the first time since All-Star Russell Westbrook had season-ending knee surgery. He had 21 points by halftime and Westbrook’s replacement, Reggie Jackson helped out by scoring 17.

James Harden, who the Rockets said had strep throat on Thursday, led Houston with 26 points.

Oklahoma City used a 14-4 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to take a 92-81 lead. Derek Fisher and Durant both hit 3-pointers in that stretch. Houston missed six shots, including two layups, and had two turnovers as the Thunder built the lead…

Houston got 25 points from Chandler Parsons, while Omer Asik had 13 points and 13 rebounds…

Martin came one point shy of his career-high points in the playoffs of 26.

– Reported by the Associated Press

James Harden

Without All-Star Russell Westbrook running the point, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are struggling to close out the Houston Rockets.

So much for a sweep. This is suddenly a series.

James Harden scored 31 points and sank seven 3-pointers while fighting flu-like symptoms, and the Rockets beat Oklahoma City 107-100 Wednesday night to pull within 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.

Harden made the first seven 3s he tried and Houston led by as many as 16 to win its second straight, getting halfway to becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

”We just came out here and played pressure free. Go out there and just hoop, that was our mindset going into the game,” Harden said. ”The same thing back at home: just go out there and hoop. We’re an eighth seed. Nobody’s expecting us to win. So just give it what we’ve got. Simple.”

The Rockets have made it look much easier since Westbrook was lost for the rest of the playoffs to knee surgery before Game 3. With back-to-back wins, Houston had Durant blaming himself for just about anything that went wrong for the Thunder even though he scored 36 points and almost single-handedly kept his team in the game.

When asked about how first-time starter Reggie Jackson has done filling in for the injured Westbrook, Durant faulted himself for demanding the ball too often from the young point guard. When questioned about Kevin Martin’s awful three-point performance on 1-for-10 shooting, Durant offered that he needed to be more encouraging to the sixth man.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Chandler Parsons

The Houston Rockets finally found a way to close out a game in their playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And it allowed them to escape playoff elimination with a 105-103 win over the Thunder on Monday night.

Chandler Parsons scored 27 points and Patrick Beverley added 16 points with point guard Jeremy Lin out with a bruised chest muscle. Houston avoided a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series.

The Rockets led in the fourth quarter of each of the last two games only to end up losing.

”We felt the pain and frustration from the last two losses … and we didn’t want that to happen for the third straight time,” Parsons said.

It almost did.

Kevin Durant scored five quick points to cut the Rockets’ lead to two. James Harden missed two shots for Houston after that and the Thunder had a last chance.

Reggie Jackson missed a jump shot and Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound, but missed a layup at the buzzer…

Durant scored 38 points in Oklahoma City’s second game without injured All-Star guard Russell Westbrook…

Harden scored 15 points, but also had 10 turnovers. He had two chances to extend Houston’s lead with less than a minute left, but missed both of them, including shooting an air ball…

Jackson finished with 18 points in his second start in place of Westbrook, and Kevin Martin added 16.

Houston got 17 points from Omer Asik and 13 from Carlos Delfino.

– Reported by Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press

francisco garcia

The youthful Rockets may be on the verge of playoff elimination, but it’s not for lack of effort by their oldest players on the court.

Francisco Garcia, 32, and Carlos Delfino, 30, had 18 and 11 points, respectively, to spark a second-half Rockets rally that fell short by the margin of Kevin Durant’s seeing-eye 3-pointer, the critical blow of Oklahoma City’s Game 3 victory Saturday night.

With Jeremy Lin rendered ineffective by his bruised chest, Rockets coach Kevin McHale’s frequently tweaked rotation came down in the second half to heavy doses of Garcia, who played 32 minutes, and Delfino, who nursed his aching elbow through 22:07.

Each did enough, absent Durant’s final 3-pointer plus the 38 points that preceded it, to get the Rockets back in the game and avoid a 3-0 deficit that in NBA history is tantamount to playoff elimination.

“We played so hard in the second half,” Garcia said. “I’m proud of my guys.”

– Reported by David Barron of the Houston Chronicle

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors 102-91 to capture the 2012-13 NBA Development League Championship for the second time in four seasons. The Vipers were led by D.J. Kennedy’s game-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists, while Glen Rice, Jr. chipped in 25 points and 13 rebounds.  The Warriors’ Travis Leslie scored a team-high 16 points and added 13 rebounds in defeat.

The Vipers dominated the first half, leading by as many as 17 points as Rice, Jr. and Kennedy combined for 33 of the team’s 56 points heading into the halftime break.  Santa Cruz was led by Jeremy Tyler, who was four-of-five from the floor, scoring 10 points in the second quarter.

The Warriors charged out of the halftime break, outscoring the Vipers 26-17 in the period on the back of eight Travis Leslie points, his first of the game.  Santa Cruz cut the Rio Grande Valley lead to as few as five points, 69-64, with 2:00 minutes to play in the third before settling for a six point deficit at the end of three, 73-67.

Scott Machado scored six points as part of a 12-0 Warriors run in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter, taking Santa Cruz on his back and leading the team to a one-point disadvantage, 82-81 with 7:31 to play.  The next two minutes of the game were all Vipers, though, with Toure Murry, Tyler Honeycutt and Kennedy connecting on back-to-back-to-back buckets, scoring a quick six points and stretching the Rio Grande Valley’s lead to seven, 88-81, with 5:28 to play in the game.  From there, the teams traded buckets before a Rice three pointer gave his team a 93-88 advantage.  The Vipers never looked back en route to the Championship win.

For Rio Grande Valley, Murry finished with 13 points and Mike Singletary scored 10 in the win, while Machado finished with 15 off the bench for Santa Cruz.

The Rockets seemed to find some answers in Game 2, starting Patrick Beverley for the first time and using a three-guard lineup for all but a few brief moments. McHale felt the change allowed Houston to penetrate the lane more frequently, with one of his perimeter threats often matched up against one of the two Thunder big men, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.

”They kind of put a tight shell out there, but once you break that shell and get on the inside, a lot of stuff can open up,” McHale said. ”We had a lot of good catch and shoot 3s, open 3s and that’s how we have to play.

”We don’t have a dominant inside presence. A lot of our inside points are finishing on dunks and tipped dunks. It’s our guys going in there and making plays against their bigs and then kicking it out.”

McHale also found success by going with a 2-3 zone after Oklahoma City had built its biggest lead at 89-74 early in the fourth quarter. Houston responded by scoring 21 of the next 23 points, even taking the lead.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

The Rockets went Game 1 going one-on-one, launching deep jumpers and getting run out of the gym. That, they said, will have to end in Game 2.

The one-on-one, iso style will have to make way for drives that lead to passes, and sometimes more passes.

The Rockets never made that adjustment in Game 1. They said they will for Game 2.

“If they switch out, we have to make them pay for that,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We have to get the ball inside. We have to move the ball and cut. To stand against (Ibaka), he’s long enough that he can play one-on-one, space you out and get a hand up. We took way too many contested jump shots off the dribble. That’s not how we want to play.

“We have some adjustments to make. The guys saw some things we did that was out of character for us. We’ll be way better tonight. I’m sure we’ll be better.”

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Thunder blast Rockets 120-91 in Game 1

kevin durant

As awkward as he felt going up against his former teammate, Kevin Durant didn’t have a problem quite literally standing in James Harden’s way in the NBA playoffs.

Durant scored 24 points and drew a rare offensive charging foul, and the Oklahoma City Thunder routed Harden and the Houston Rockets 120-91 on Sunday night in Game 1 of their playoff series.

Durant, who’s known more for his three NBA scoring titles than for stepping in the way of oncoming opponents, got in Harden’s way on a transition drive in the third quarter in a standout defensive effort for the Thunder against the league’s second highest-scoring offense…

After letting Houston wipe away an 11-point deficit in the first half, the Thunder regained control with a 14-1 surge just before halftime and kept pouring it on.

Just after a fan nailed a half-court shot to win $20,000 in the break after the third quarter, Durant drove for a two-handed slam while getting fouled and Oklahoma City was soon up by 30.

Harden, playing against the team that traded him away just before the season started, had 20 points but the Rockets were held 15 points below their regular-season scoring average while shooting 36 percent. Houston, which set a franchise record for 3-pointers during the regular season, finished 8 for 36 (22 percent) from behind the arc…

The Thunder were already up by 23 when Larry Hill connected on the half-court shot and went bounding toward Oklahoma City’s huddle in celebration, getting congratulated by Thabo Sefolosha before the team’s bison mascot pulled him back away…

Russell Westbrook ended up with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points and Kevin Martin, Harden’s replacement in the sixth man role, had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter with the game already in hand…

The game ball got switched out in the second quarter after it went into the stands and a drink was spilled on it.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Rockets clinch spot in 2013 NBA playoffs

Jermaine O’Neal saw James Harden’s last-second 3-pointer bounce off the rim, went up for it and figured Phoenix and Houston were headed to overtime.

Referee David Jones saw goaltending and counted the basket that gave the Rockets a 101-98 victory on Tuesday night.

Harden scored 33 points and Omer Asik tied his career high with 22 rebounds for the Rockets, who earned their first playoff berth since 2009 when the Jazz lost to Oklahoma City.

”It’s a great accomplishment for us,” said Harden, acquired from Oklahoma City in an offseason trade. ”For our first year together, it’s a pretty good thing.”

On the final play, Harden dribbled down the clock with P.J. Tucker guarding him and launched a 3 from the wing. It bounced high off the rim and O’Neal and Houston’s Patrick Beverley jumped for the rebound. O’Neal touched the ball and the rim after the ball came down, just after the buzzer sounded.

The referees huddled on the court, then reviewed the play and ruled it the winning basket, setting off a wild celebration.

– Reported by the Associated Press

omer asik

Omer Asik matched his career high with 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds and the Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic 111-103 on Monday night without James Harden and Chandler Parsons

Jeremy Lin had 19 points and 11 assists and Francisco Garcia had 14 points, five assists and three blocks for the Rockets, who hardly missed their top two scorers until Orlando made a late run. Harden sat out for the second straight game with a sore right foot and Parsons missed the game with an illness.

Rookie Maurice Harkless scored a career-high 28 points and Beno Udrih had 17 points and 10 assists for the Magic.

The Rockets won for the eighth time in 10 home games and inched closer to their first playoff berth since the 2008-09 season. Houston holds the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.

Greg Smith started the game with a one-handed dunk and the Rockets were off and running. Smith and Asik got any shot they wanted early on and the Rockets opened with a 21-6 spurt…

[Tobias] Harris had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Orlando.

– Reported by Chris Duncan of the Associated Press

Rockets rookie Royce White leaves D-League team

The brief NBA Development League career of Rockets rookie Royce White could be over. Whether a career in the NBA can be salvaged remains unclear after the latest stunning turn in his tumultuous season.

White announced via Twitter that he was leaving the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to be in Houston for the remainder of the season at the advice of the team physician. He did not offer any explanation, but later said he was returning to Houston, not the Rockets.

Rockets management was not a part of the decision, according to a person with knowledge of their thinking on the issue.

Rockets officials would not comment. Even less clear is whether the agreement that White considered necessary to report to the D-League in February will protect him should the Rockets wish to suspend him again.

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Blog)

Jeremy Lin

After spending another fourth quarter on the bench, Rockets guard Jeremy Lin said he understood Rockets coach Kevin McHale sticking with Patrick Beverley at point guard, even if watching in close games is still not easy.

“Every player understands it’s just a matter of riding the hot hand,” Lin said. “For me, or any athlete it’s just a matter of not getting too high or too low. I feel like in the time I’m out there, I’m playing my brand of basketball. I’m happy about that. Whatever time I get, I have to keep playing the way I play. At this point, we’re making this playoff push. We’re really trying to get these wins.

“It’s hard for any athlete to sit there when it matters. It’s not about individual egos right now. Obviously, everyone wants to be out there. One through 15 everybody wants to be out there, but that’s just not the way it works sometimes. It’s just buying into the team. We really are a team, we enjoy being around each other. That makes it easy to sacrifice for each other.”

Lin has not played in the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ past three games, sitting out late in close games against the Magic and Mavericks and in the home rout against the Mavericks. Rockets center Omer Asik also sat out the fourth quarter against the Mavericks, but also said he was unconcerned with his own playing time.

– Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Houston Rockets sign Aaron Brooks

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Aaron Brooks. To open a roster spot, the Rockets recalled from Rio Grande Valley and then waived forward Tyler Honeycutt. Brooks returns to Houston where he spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of his career.

Brooks (6-0, 161, Oregon) has averaged 11.8 points and 3.5 assists in 318 career games (149 starts) with Houston, Phoenix and Sacramento. Waived by Sacramento on Mar. 1, 2013, Brooks averaged 8.0 points and 2.3 assists in 20.8 minutes per game over 46 contests (20 starts) with the Kings this season. He joined Sacramento after spending the 2011-12 campaign with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he was named a CBA All-Star and took Guangdong to the CBA 2012 Finals.

Selected by Houston in the first round (26th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft, Brooks has averaged 12.8 points and 3.6 assists in 247 career games (124 starts) with the Rockets. He had his breakout season in 2009-10, earning NBA Most Improved Player after averaging career highs of 19.6 points and 5.3 assists in 82 starts. Brooks also stood first in the NBA in 3-pointers made (.398, 209-525 3FG) in 2009-10, setting the franchise single-season record for treys. He became just the sixth player in NBA history to make at least 200 3-pointers (209) and dish out 400 or more assists (434) in the same season. In 2008-09, Brooks was selected to participate with the Sophomore Team in the 2009 Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. He also earned NBA Rookie of the Month honors for 2007 NBA Summer League. Brooks, who was dealt to the Suns during the 2010-11 season in exchange for Goran Dragic and draft considerations, also played in two games with the NBA D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers (23.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.0 apg in 2007-08).

Honeycutt (6-8, 188, UCLA), who was acquired by the Rockets from Sacramento on Feb. 20, averaged 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two games with Houston’s single-affiliation NBA D-League partner Rio Grande Valley. He averaged 0.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in 3.6 minutes per game over nine contests with the Kings this season. Honeycutt was selected by Sacramento after his sophomore year out of UCLA with the 35th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

James Harden

Guards Jeremy Lin and James Harden sat out Thursday’s practice, and Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he had “no idea” if they will be able to play in Orlando on Friday. McHale said both were “banged up.”

Harden knocked knees with Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis on Wednesday, but after a time out remained in the game. Lin turned his right ankle, but also played his usual minutes. Lin went through post-practice shooting drills, offering an indication he would be able to play.

– Reported by  Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

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