Despite the imminent return of point guard Patrick Beverley from an ankle injury, coach J.B. Bickerstaff has elected to keep Jason Terry as his starting point guard with the first unit.
Terry's familiarity playing next to James Harden during last year's post season run gives him the edge over Beverley and the disappointing Ty Lawson on a team still hunting for chemistry.
Bickerstaff also appreciates Jet's veteran poise, telling the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen:
"I think we're going to try to play those guys together. We're going to stick with the starting lineup. We like the leadership Jet brings with that first group."
Bickerstaff did say, however, that each of the three Rockets point guards will see time on the floor. He feels it's a good problem to have, telling Feigen:
"...We're going to bring those other guys off the bench. Obviously, Patrick coming off the injury, his minutes will be monitored. But we have enough bodies, and there's enough minutes for all of them. All of them have enough skill to help us."
Beverley expects to pick right up where he left off before the injury, as a spark plug energizing the bench unit with his hard-nosed play.
"There's nothing to change... that defensive intensity, diving on loose balls, diving in the stands, all the little stuff I do. Just be me."
It has to be considered disappointing, however, to see Ty Lawson unable to get back with the first team. He was brought on as a potential difference-maker for a squad with preseason title aspirations, and many praised the trade made for Lawson as one of the NBA's most important in the offseason.
Reality hasn't been as kind, as Lawson has looked tentative in the best times next to Harden and totally lost in the worst. Instead of dominating minutes at the point, he's been reduced to a three-way timeshare with a defensive specialist and a 38-year-old role player. Certainly not what anyone envisioned when the Rockets moved for Lawson earlier this summer.
Bickerstaff recognizes that getting Lawson going is crucial to the forward success of the Rockets, and it does sound like he'll be making a conscious decision to get Lawson more involved as a primary scorer with the second unit, telling Feigen:
"We're going to change some of the things that we run when he is on the floor. We're going to put him in situations where he's comfortable, doing things he's done in the past."
Getting Lawson comfortable is of prime importance, as the lack of chemistry next to Harden has been troubling, and at least Bickerstaff recognize that. There's no way two guys that require the ball in their hand so much to be effective can be at their optimum playing next to one another. There's only one ball to go around.
Instead of forcing one of them to change, Bickerstaff is making the smart play and allowing both Harden and Lawson an opportunity to do what they do best. That opportunity for Lawson is with the second unit.
And though he hasn't shown any spark there yet (he's averaged just 3.3 points and 2.3 assists on 20 percent shooting in 3 games off the bench), the hope is a concentration on catering the second team around Lawson will play to his strengths and allow him to get off.
For his part, Lawson seems to be taking the demotion in stride.
"If I come off the bench, I can have the ball in my hands more and have more opportunity to get in the paint, play my game. It's good for the team, good for me.
"Hopefully, this is a transition to getting back to myself, be more aggressive. Hopefully, it'll be for the best."
We hope so too. Otherwise, the Rockets will be right back in the market for a difference-making point guard, maybe even as soon as later this season.