About a week ago, I did a season preview on Montrezl Harrell and asked if it was time the young big man out of Louisville stepped up his game in light of the open opportunity for minutes in the Houston front court. If he can keep doing what he did in last night’s 134-125 double overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Mike D’Antoni will have a hard time keeping him off the court.
Trez went off for a double-double, scoring 20 points on 8-14 shooting, while grabbing 10 boards in 27 minutes of action. He scored off of the hustle plays he is famous for, showcased some good moves in the pick and roll and naturally threw down some vicious dunks. Trez gave us a whole package of moves.
Harrell also had some eye-opening defensive play. He finished with three blocks and a steal, including this highlight-reel stuff in the first overtime period.
Despite not leading the Rockets to victory, this was the type of performance we’ve been looking for Harrell to put together. And though the other two centers also played well -- the Rockets also got 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists from Clint Capela and 10 points and 3 rebounds from Nene Hilario — Trez is fast earning himself a spot in the steady rotation come regular season. D’Antoni told the Houston Chronicle:
“There’s some competition there. Montrezl played well, so everyone is going to have to be ready. I think he’s a lot better than I originally thought, but we had him playing at the four. I think he’s better at the five. And in our system, he does a really good job with what we need. He understands what we need. He will be somebody we can count on this year.”
In a game in which the Rockets played their starters limited minutes -- Ryan Anderson played 19, Trevor Ariza 24 and James Harden 28 — and gave some extended run to the young guys -- Harrell’s 27, 34 for Sam Dekker and 33 for Tyler Ennis — Trez looked at times to be the best player on the floor.
While that’s not something we should expect every night, it’s a welcoming sight to see Trez’s hard work and passion for the game beginning to turn into legitimate on-court production. I look forward to more of it during the regular season, and it sounds like Harrell does too:
“I’m really just taking advantage of the opportunity that coach has given me. With the way that we play and run and get up and down the court, using my abilities as a four at the five is special. Whatever time I coach gives me, I take full advantage.”