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K.J. McDaniels has a coming out party in the Rockets win over the 76ers

K.J. McDaniels coming out party plus other takeaways from the Rockets win over the 76ers

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets sang another road win, this one against the 76ers 118 to 104, it's now a streak winner's of two in a row.

The Rockets came out a touch flat early on but the bench would come in and give the starters a lift till they were able to get into the game. The 76ers would make it interesting pulling within two points with four minutes left. The Rockets then went on a run to close out the game.

Rockets won by double digits, but the 76ers hung tough with the Rockets for a really big chunk of the game.

Below are three takeaways from the Rockets road win over the 76ers.

Finally, a center who can make free throws!

What am I talking about? Wednesday night the Rockets tossed out a lineup consisting of, James Harden, Jason Terry, Corey Brewer, Michael Beasley and KJ McDaniels. In that small ball lineup, Beasley played the five and was making free throws. Yes, a good sight to see indeed.

The Rockets in that lineup looked pretty spry on the offensive end. The floor was super spread-out for Harden, who was able to pick out what he wanted to do when at the top of the key. Beasley, in that lineup ,has mismatches because he can take the bigs off the dribble. You also have Terry, who can make spot up shots ,and you have two guys that can slash and get to the rim.

The problem with the lineup is the defensive end, it worked against the 76ers cause they are the 76ers. But there were a lot of miscommunications and guys were able to get open way too easily. Of course, the Rockets can work together and get better but they need much more time playing with each other.

All in all, coach Bickerstaff, use that lineup more!

K.J. McDaniels' coming out party

So let me know if this was you Wednesday night? So it's an early road game, I went out to grab a bite to eat. So I DVR the game and I re-watch when I get home. So I come home turn on the TV, it's the second quarter and I notice K.J. McDaniels is in the game, my first reaction: Dear lord we are already out of the game in the second quarter?

But seriously, McDaniels played the game like he never wanted to be taken out again. McDaniels was all over the place, in the span of 15 seconds, he had a dunk, a steal, and an offensive rebound.

"He does big man things," J.B. Bickerstaff said of what McDaniels brings, "he can rebound the ball on both ends, protect the glass, he runs in transition."

McDaniels brought the energy and the on-ball defense when in the game — he still struggles on switches, but that is just because he doesn't play much — and it was an all-around great performance for the time he was given. On the night, he finished with 12 points and 3 rebounds. That stat line does not seem like much, although it was a season-high in scoring, but the Rockets were also +14 with him on the floor.

"I always stay ready, at all times," K.J. McDaniels said, "coach threw me out there and I had to go out there and play as hard as I could."

The work McDaniels has done this year, despite not playing much, is a big reason coach is comfortable using him.

"K.J.'s worked his behind off, he's put himself in position where if you need him, he's prepared to play," Bickerstaff said, "he asks the right questions in shootaround he practices hard every day, he works hard every day."

Don't be shocked if McDaniels might have worked his way into a nice little role down the stretch.

Peeking ahead

Don't look now, but the once six-seed Mavericks are now in the seventh seed and have the same amount of losses as the Rockets. The six seed, which seemed so far away less than a week ago, is still within arms reach.

The Trailblazers sit with 34 wins and 31 losses but face the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder in their next four games (all on the road).

The Mavericks sit with 33 wins and 32 losses (lost four straight) they face the Pacers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Hornets in the next four.

The Rockets sit with 32 wins and 32 losses and they will have a back-to-back with the Celtics and Hornets before coming home to face the Grizzlies and the Clippers in the next four games.

There are a lot of potential losses in those games for those three teams, and the team with the least amount of Ls just could find themselves in the six seed for good.