It was as thrilling as a preseason game could possibly be.
The Rockets trailed for the majority of their 90-89 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, but Isaiah Canaan's 14 points in the fourth quarter helped propel Houston to its narrow victory.
Things looked ugly from the onset as the Rockets trailed after the first, second and third quarters of the game, but they managed to close the contest out on a 17-3 run that was interrupted only by a Willie Green three-pointer with 1:08 left in the fourth. Jeff Adrien hit the go-ahead free throw with 35 seconds left to put it away.
This big game from Isaiah Canaan could be an important development in Houston's search for the ever-elusive (productive) backup point-guard.
Since losing Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in the offseason, the question going into the regular season has been "How are you going to get productive minutes out of the guard and center positions when neither James Harden nor Dwight Howard is in the game?"
So far, the preseason hasn't exactly led to a definitive answer.
Tarik Black has shown moments of brilliance but still looks lost half of the time. His 10 points and 8 rebounds in 15 minutes of playing time look impressive until you realize he somehow managed to stack up 5 fouls. No bueno.
Power forward Joey Dorsey put up an embarrassing -18 in the plus/minus column in 15 minutes of playing time, and Donatas Motiejunas, Houston's favorite Lithuanian, managed a -8, going 0-11 from the field.
Jeff Adrien was the lone bright spot in that dark, sad corner of the Rocket's depth chart. His tough defense and solid rebounding (7 in the fourth quarter) helped sustain the Rockets comeback.
James Harden looked his usual self in a surprising amount of minutes given the general insignificance of this game. The Beard had 9 pts, 3 assists, a rebound and a steal in 15 minutes of pt.
Point guard duty went to Ish Smith for a large portion of the night and results were... unsurprising.
Ish was -17 in 18 minutes and went 2 of 5 from the field. He was simply a defensive liability when it came to shutting down the athletic Orlando back court of Elfrid Payton and Mo Harkless. (I didn't say Luke Ridnour because his name can't be in the same sentence as the word "athletic".) Don't be surprised to see Smith's name absent from the final roster at the start of regular season.
This game didn't tell us anything we didn't know about our starting rotation as Dwight Howard and Trevor Ariza were both rested and Pat Beverley, Harden and Terrence Jones all performed as expected, but hopefully the game provided some insight to Coach McHale and company as to the state of our bench depth.
The Rockets look to wrap up preseason this Friday against San Antonio in the Toyota Center.