The Rockets picked up a much-needed win over the Bucks last night, 102-98. The Rockets had a two-game losing streak going into the game and looked like tough times could be ahead. Then, the team traded for Josh Smith.
The trade might have lifted everyone as the Rockets were pretty much in cruise control all night long. The Bucks made runs and tried to overtake the Rockets but the game was always in their hands.
Below are my three takeaways from the Rockets:
Terrence Jones had a good game, because of course
Final stat line for Jones: 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Friday night was one of those typical Good Terrence nights, and why did he play well? Josh Smith is back in town, so Jones brought his A-game.
Some of his best games have come at times when someone might take his job. Donatas Motiejunas comes back, Jones has a few good games. There is trade talk that Jones might be on the way out, he strings a few more together.
Who knows how long this version of Jones will stay but he is nice to see on the floor when he is around. Friday night, he was all over the place, finishing at the rim — he doesn't normally — playing solid defense and stuffing shots.
Josh Smith picking up where he left off
If you thought it was going to take a while to get Josh Smith back into the swing of things, well you'd be wrong. Smith, who spent the majority of the day Friday in the air catching flights to make his way back to Houston, was back to his normal self from the jump. He was back to being the defense-playing, playmaking four that won over fans last season.
J-Smoove may have spent months with the Clippers, including the last few weeks riding the bench, but apparently he will never forget how to get his former teammates open looks. Smith finished with 6 assists, but it easily could have been 10 had teammates finished at the rim or hit threes. Not bad for a guy who only played 21 minutes.
On the defensive end, Smith was big, blocking shots, rebounding the ball and he was able to match the size that the Bucks brought to the floor.
Funky lineups all over
Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley are hurt, so what was J.B. Bickerstaff to do?Start Jason Terry and Corey Brewer because that's normal... Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff mentioned post game that he wanted to give the team a little bit of spark with Brewer starting. And it worked: the Rockets came out running and gunning. The Bucks looked shell-shocked.
The Rockets also used another odd, one-time-only lineup. During a stretch, the Rockets went super small with Terrence Jones at the five, which also worked. The Bucks are so long that when the Rockets went small they had a hard time matching up with them.
Even had the Rockets had been healthy with Howard, they are still much smaller than the Bucks. They still might have used some strange lineups to put them on their heels. Whatever buttons Bickerstaff pushed Friday night worked.