Jeremy Lin, who finished with 13 points, caught fire from behind the arc in the second quarter and proceeded to drain his first three three point shots in the preseason. Tonight I saw a hint of the Jeremy Lin who captured the attention of the entire nation (and several others). Lin was able to create space for himself from mid range, attack the rim and distribute. I was really hoping we'd see more of Jeremy's streak but by the middle of the third quarter the Rockets were up by 25 and McHale cleared the bench. I guess we'll just have to wait until the regular season to see just how hot Lin can get. Lin also had 5 assists and 2 steals in his 23 minutes.
Kevin Martin (11 points, 5 assists) and Chandler Parsons (12 points, 4 assists) were both firing on all cylinders for the Rockets.
An unlikely suspect for big time contributor tonight was none other than Greg Smith who finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds in just 20 minutes. Smith, an afterthought in Houston's promising big men conversation, played so well that Kevin McHale decided to start him in the third quarter where he continued to thrive. At just 21, Greg Smith is another silo of potential at the power forward spot and he can play some center too.
The Orlando Magic had very little going for them aside from some great rebounding. Glen Davis made some noise early on while DeQuan Jones, and E'Twaun Moore were able to fill it up from the wings. Nikola Vucevic grabbed all 14 of his rebounds in the first half.
Curiously enough, the game started with consecutive Omer Asik post ups. This pattern continued throughout the game with limited success. Tonight may have been Asik's worst performance in the preseason. The Turkish center had trouble containing Glen Davis and allowed Nikola Vucevic to grab a couple of offensive rebounds over his back. I think the Rockets are in fantastic shape in the middle when a weaker performance from your starting center nets you 12 boards and six points.
Tonight I saw a disturbing lack of purpose in Royce White's post up outlet passes for the second time. On Wednesday, Royce chunked the ball towards the crowd when he was unable to make any progress in the high post and tonight he telegraphed his pass. I think Royce White has got a bit of growing to do before he's going to be able to consistently contribute off the bench and I think he's going to do his growing int he D-League.
Speaking of nurturing a strong bench, Carlos Delfino was superb off the bench tonight and drained three shots from deep. I think Delfino will be our first sub off the bench during the beginning of the season. He's versatile and relatively consistant.
There's an intriguing battle on the Rockets roster for the back up point guard position. Shuan Livingston is a dynamic passer but struggles to score the ball. Tony Douglas can score but it's not clear if he's the right guy to run the offense. Scott Machado is looking more and more like the real deal and the best passer of the group.
The game was over by the middle of the third quarter and both teams gave their starters the rest of the night off. Donatas Motiejunas came in and scored the ball with ease. Machado racked up six assists. Almost every Rocket, including JaJuan Johnson, got to see the floor tonight. Overall, it was an impressive showing for Houston and a good way to transition into the regular season.