Preseason is preseason is preseason. That's what I always say... or, that's what I said about a million times during the Rockets fourth preseason game against the Phoenix Suns. This one was especially brutal as we were treated to no Harden, no Howard, and no Lawson along with the rest of the injured.
The Rockets sported a starting lineup of Terrence Jones, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, Patrick Beverley, and Corey Brewer who jumped out to a quick lead. This lead wavered a little throughout the first half as a result of turnovers, sloppy play on both sides of the ball, and the amazing second unit turned preseason starters having to be on the bench and let other people play. I mean, how dare they?
The first half wasn't stellar on offense or defense, but Terrence Jones did his best to combat that. With 23 points on 9 for 11 shooting, it seemed as if he didn't know that the real season didn't start for a couple of weeks. Plagued with injuries last year, it's always nice to see Good TJ, even if it is against the Suns scout team. As for the Rockets' scout team, personified bulldozer Joshua Smith looked great in his 10 minutes, going 4-5 with 8 points, until he fouled out in the third quarter. You read that right: third quarter.
The game was close about 85% of the time. Then, when the score was 67 to 64, Clint Capela did this to Brandon Knight.
The Rockets then went on an absolute tear, scoring 42 total in the third to the Suns 27.
Then we put the new kids in for the fourth quarter and it all went away. The offense was stagnant at best. The defense disappeared. The Suns climbed all the way back and eventually led by 5 with a less than a minute to go. It's hard to take these things too seriously in a preseason game, but it is unavoidably upsetting to see a 17-point lead dwindle in such a way. Dekker hit a three, Livingston hit a layup, and suddenly the Rockets were playing in dreaded preseason overtime.
That said, after the abysmal performance that was the fourth quarter, the youngins really came through in OT. They made shots. They played defense. KJ McDaniels finally got in his uber-athletic dunk. The Rockets eventually pulled out a 135-129 win. And I watched the whole stinkin' thing.
The Rockets play the Warriors in Oakland on Thursday October 15 at 9:00 p.m. central time.