It took the Rockets a while to show up, but once Kyle Lowry finally took a few shots, and once the defense began forcing turnovers (a rarity for this team), Houston managed to slide past Sacramento in much more difficult fashion than in their previous meeting. Kevin Martin scored 22 points, Luis Scola added 17 and the Rockets' bench dropped 39 points on the Kings, likely a result of the return of Aaron Brooks.
Here are ten thoughts that I had in watching tonight's game, and we'll leave it here:
1. Chase Budinger isn't doing it for me. You have to wonder how much more he'll be able to develop, given his limited lateral quickness and therefore below-average defense, his inability to dribble in traffic and his streaky outside shot. Isn't Budinger on the floor for shooting purposes? Sure, the Rockets would like to see him improve his overall ability, but first and foremost, Chase Budinger is a shooter. If Budinger can't make his shots, why is he out there in the first place?
2. Jordan Hill can grab as many offensive rebounds and knock down as many open jump shots as he wants: fact is, if he keeps fouling at a near-Odenian rate, Rick Adelman won't be able to increase his minutes. For the last time: Hill isn't a shot-blocker, plainly because he can't jump very high. He needs to stop trying to be a dominant shot-blocker, because he'll keep fouling himself straight to the bench. Then again, nights such as these - when Hill makes two clutch blocks on the Kings - probably aren't the best time for me to ramble on about Hill's ineptitude in the area.
3. Boogie Cousins can play. Love his all-around game: he made some powerful post moves on the block, made three or four very impressive passes and blocked four shots on one leg. It's a shame that the Rockets couldn't put a deal together to somehow acquire him during this summer's draft. Likewise, I can't blame the Kings for covering their ears, unplugging their phones and taking him.
4. Beno Udrih went 0-7 tonight. The Rockets have two capable point guards. Let's swing a three-team deal and land a big man, shall we?
5. On that note, I liked what I saw from Aaron Brooks, rusty as he looked. He doesn't fit well with the second unit, but he managed to do things that you'd normally see him do with the first unit: run the screen and roll, knock down threes and get into the paint. Unfortunately, the unit with which he played isn't as accustomed to seeing Brooks as they are Lowry, who played with the first unit. As a result, things looked a bit shaky at times.
5a. I'm beginning to think that trading Brooks could be the first step towards re-shaping the roster. I like Brooks, and while I still don't think he's a good defender, there's no question that he brings plenty to the table. However, with Lowry on the roster (and on the payroll for a while longer) and with the success that he has had with the starting unit, it's beginning to look as if Brooks could become expendable. Ish Smith will be better with time, and the Rockets could always target a buy-low backup point guard in the offseason if they so desired, as they've never had much trouble acquiring useful guards. If a talented big man becomes available who would peak the Rockets' interest, Brooks should be the first name tossed into trade talks.
6. Someone needs to free Carl Landry from Sacramento. He's not the answer for Houston, but somebody has to do it.
7. Trading Donté Greene for Ron Artest still looks like the right move. Trading Nic Batum for Donté Greene does not, though, in retrospect, everything becomes all too clear. Acquiring Artest was the necessary step to be taken at the time.
8. Looks like we won't see Terrence Williams for another game or two. Adelman wants him to practice a little bit, but the Rockets have had such a busy schedule that there hasn't been time to run said practices.
9. Courtney Lee has quietly put together a solid month without seeing much of an increase in his minutes or in his role on offense. Solid man-to-man defense and an ability to make open shots is pretty hard to come by with guards of Lee's athleticism and youth. It's only going to get better.
10. Patrick Patterson might be better off going back down to the D-League, for now. Also, I saw a picture of Dave Andersen in our photo editor and almost cried a little. Miss the automatic turnaround jumpers, Dave. Not much else, though.