Kevin McHale unveiled an entirely reconstructed rotation and game plan tonight in New Orleans which was largely responsible for a seven point win tonight in New Orleans. Rookie Terrence Jones and second year player Chandler Parsons played great.
The Rockets won their fourth preseason game tonight on the road in New Orleans, propelling their record to 4 and 2. Chandler Parsons (18 points, 7 for 15 shooting), Terrence Jones (15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals), and Carlos Delfino (20 points) carried the bulk of the offensive load, while Omer Asik mirrored that passion (14 rebounds, 1 block and 2 steals) on the defensive end.
In watching the Rockets preseason thus far I have stumbled upon a not-so-subtle-dichotomy in this season's Houston Rockets construct: Asik anchors defense and Martin, as the ying to Omer's yang, anchors the offense.
Chandler Parsons, who had 13 points from beyond the arc alone, really flaunted his offensive prowess in New Orleans tonight. It's a little early to jump the gun, but so far Parson's jump shot has looked like a vastly improved weapon for McHale to tinker with. Unfortunately, we have yet to see how much that stroke will translate to the foul line where Parsons carries the majority of his offensive criticisms.
Early on, Jeremy Lin looked honed in on defense but Lin really struggled to make any further impact. The former New York sensation has yet to hit a three point shot in the preseason and the only thing more embarrassing for Lin tonight than his assist to turnover ratio was his shooting percentage. We haven't even come close to approaching the appropriate time to comment on Lin's contract and role, but tonight's performance punctuates what critics will continue to refer to as a poor preseason run.
The first half of the game was dominated by missed opportunities at the rim and a reinvigorated defense. Shaun Livingston and Royce White were substituted into the game early on and initially neither player had a real impact. Greg Smith was another early sub. However, Smith's presence was felt rather quickly by virtue of being in the right place at the right time in the flow of the offense. The underlying principle in the first half for the Rockets was defense and the defense was good. By the end of the second quarter the Hornets had twice as many turnovers as the Rockets.
Houston borrowed some grand performances from Kevin Martin and Terrence Jones to start things off with a bang in the third quarter. Chandler Parsons, among others, was another welcomed contributor on the perimeter. If you're able to ignore Terrence Jones' three point shot, the rookie forward from Kentucky's latest championship core was relatively flawless. Jones easily outplayed Anthony Davis. Feel free to read that last line again. Jones was able to convert from a variety of different offensive situations and his defense was stellar. The third quarter turned into a bit of a three point shootout but when the smoke cleared, the Rockets held an easy lead.
I was very curious tonight to see what Shuan Livingston brought the table. After a timid start, Shuan was readily able to create offense in a vacuum and stick the mid range jumper tonight. His contribution was largely felt beyond the extent of the box score.
As far as the Hornets were concerned, Ryan Anderson showcased his entire arsenal off the bench and he looked great. Vasquez and Davis both contributed average games.
Carlos Delfino was really able to exploit his maturity tonight and I think that the Argentinian is going to have an important role on this team early on in the season as the voice of experience.
After a week of practice, I was hoping to see a bit more cohesion but I suppose a win is a win. The Rockets starting five looked out of sync but every other combination of the roster looked pretty good. We're one preseason game away from the season and this team still looks like a work in progress.