Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic preseason game 4 preview

Thomas B. Shea

The Rockets return to Houston to take on the Orlando Magic tonight.

This is a quick turnaround for the Rockets considering that they just played three nights ago (kinda) in Taiwan.

There were a lot of positives to take away from the preseason games in Asia for the Rockets. First, the "Core Four" looked great in both games, proving that the New Orleans game wasn't a fluke. Also maintaining his hot streak was Omri Casspi, who's gone from potential preseason cut to a solid rotation player if he keeps this up.

Other notes from the games in the Philippines and Taiwan:

Jeremy Lin just looks more confident. His shots are going in, but I don't know which is the cause and which is the effect. Either way, I like it.

I love the experimentation with Lin coming off the bench. I'm not saying he should or shouldn't be in the starting lineup (I'm sure that will come up a lot in the coming weeks), but bringing Lin off the bench will allow him to be more free and not worry about stepping on toes. He could still average 30 minutes per game if the Rockets decide to have a three-guard rotation. Also, for those who have said that McHale is too stuck in his rotational philosophies, it's time to wake up and see that he's open to change if it helps the team.

Speaking of backups vs. starters, here's AK's "Backup PF PPG," brought to you by I TOLD YOU SO:

Through three games, the starting power forward is averaging 3.7 points per game.

Through three games, the backup power forward is averaging 13 points per game in fewer minutes.

So, if we extrapolate this to the point guards, we can see that it isn't impossible for Lin to play better coming off the bench. But again, I'm not sold on it. Also, I think the starting power forward decision might be decided by matchups.

Dwight Howard wasn't otherworldly in Asia, but he was pretty good, and his defense on Roy Hibbert was great. It seems that the Rockets haven't fully integrated him into the offense since it's so early, but he looks energetic and healthy.

James Harden took these matchups personally, and it showed. He knew he played poorly against Paul George and other elite defenders last year, and he worked in the offseason to take his game to a better place. So far so good. He had his way with a defense that is a lock to be top 5 this season.

It was nice to see Francisco Garcia back, and going 5-8 from three in Taiwan is a great sign.

I'm starting to miss Omer Asik. I just want to see him playing and hustling his butt off. Jason Friedman says he won't play tonight and is looking likely that he'll debut next week.

Tip-off is at 7pm CST.

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