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J. B. Bickerstaff is pushing the right buttons

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After an abysmal start the Rockets find themselves in seventh in the West and back in the hunt.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

A month ago I couldn't watch the Rockets. But, with the Houston only 3.5 games out of third place in the West, it's time to celebrate a little bit and welcome basketball back into our lives. Thank God!

The schedule has helped, but in this holiday season lets be thankful for where we stand. The litany of problems have filled the pages of The Dream Shake for weeks. Now it's time to look at what's going right.

As tough as the coaching change was, it now looks like it was the right call. Young J. B. Bickerstaff has been pushing the right buttons that McHale was loathe to make. The changes were necessary to light a fire that some players needed, to begin hitting on all cylinders. Remember, the Rockets have a boatload of players in their contract year and with the new, higher salary cap coming, they should all be playing their asses off.

At first I thought Bickerstaff was going to be on a short leash and I didn't believe Morey when he said he had the season to prove himself. But, it's looking more and more like that will come to pass. He's now 8 and 5 and looks to be gaining some momentum and buy-in with the team. It's his rotation changes that have made the most difference.

The biggest change is inserting Clint Capela into the starting lineup. He has the Rockets' second best PER at 21.5 and he has earned the time. The defense has been so poor that it needed the inside presence of our twin towers to get back some respect.

Against the Lakers, the Twin Towers shot 12 of 16 and had 22 boards. Our shooting percentage this year has been tough to watch, but the horrid, weak defense was the worst part of the team. Having Terrence Jones coming off the bench is a better fit. And, with D-Mo back, Bickerstaff have even more options.

Moving Ty Lawson to the bench and even sitting him for complete games was genius. I give Lawson a lot of leeway. Poor guy had to go through all the alcohol/court issues, rehab, changing teams and agreeing to have his final year of a giant contract non-guaranteed. Anyone would be going through shell shock with all of that going on.

J. B. just gave him some room, gave him some time on the court without Harden and made him realize, by sitting him, that if Lawson doesn't get it together he'll be playing for significantly less money next year, even with a new salary cap. I have more hope now that Lawson will find his place in the rotation.

After 30% of the season under our belts the Rockets find themselves climbing, full of hope and beginning to again imagine themselves in true contention.  Not only have the Rockets awakened from hibernation, so have the Rockets fans. Thanks for the early Christmas present, J. B.