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Rockets wreck Bulls in preseason opener 124-104

That was interesting.

Houston Rockets v Chicago Bulls
Is it...Caboclo Time?
Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

Usually a pre-season game just doesn’t have all that much to talk about. Usually a pre-season game is pro forma, and perhaps will offer the prospect hound a few moments of watching players who might represent the future of the team.

Not tonight.

There were so many storylines swirling in this game that getting to them all will be difficult, as my endurance may run out.

Let’s start with the headliners. Bruno Caboclo and Brodric Thomas.

What? Fine. John Wall and Boogie Cousins. First of all, they’re Rockets. You’ll need a bit more time to let that sink in.

John Wall looked like JOHN WALL. Not like Broken John Wall, or Playing Through The Pain John Wall, but much more like the guy Washington wanted to build a team around. He also, to be fair, looked like a man who hadn’t played basketball in roughly two years. Well, a superstar who hadn’t played in two years. As debuts go, this was a good one.

This game got out of hand fast, so Wall only logged 19 minutes. I suspect the plan was to play him about 24 minutes, but the Rockets got up so big new head coach Stephen Silas (more on him later) opted to play everyone who made the trip to Chicago (more on that later).

In Wall’s 19 minutes he scored 13 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, dished 9 assists and had 2 steals. He shot three 3pt shots, two from a step back that didn’t look quite right, and one from a set position, which he swished.

It was a good night.

Demarcus Cousins also had a good night. He looks slimmer than at any point in his career. He was moving well. The quick hands and good footwork are still there. Speed was never his calling card. Cousins logged 15 minutes, due to an astonishing number of soft fouls called on him (4 in 15 minutes). He notched 14 points, 5rb, 2ast, 2stl, 2blk. It was honestly nice to see a big man control the paint a bit.

If he stays healthy, the Rockets got a star center for free.

I get anxious every time either one of Wall or Cousins hits the floor. This is probably going to happen all season long. The fears about Wall and Cousins won’t go away, but, they’ve gotten on the court and not only played, but looked like their old selves. It’s happened. One “If” is crossed off the long list of them.

And THAT could be the storyline. But wait, there’s more.

The whole Rockets starting lineup looked great. Eric Gordon had furious 20 minutes, made his shots, and generally clowned the Bulls defense with clever drives. Danuel House looked good, but slightly hesitant. JaeSan Tate, playing the role of PJ Tucker looked better as the game wore on. He could be a worthy platoon for Tucker.

But wait, there’s more. Every single Rocket (16!) played more than 5 minutes. I’m not sure what to do with that information.

Let’s go quickly through the list:

Bruno Caboclo - This might be the year he arrives, at last. He nailed 3pt shots, grabbed rebounds and blocked shots. If this is your third center, or backup PF? That’s really good for the Rockets.

Gerald Green offered up some Mayoral scoring, splashing 16pts in 16 minutes. His hops are still there.

Ben McLemore looked good, and looked like he was being asked to do a bit more than just stand around and shoot. We’ll see how that goes.

David Nwaba looked energetic, bouncy and out of control. He’s probably happy to be on the court. His defense, particularly help defense, looked good.

We saw Kenyon Martin Jr. play. He looked like a kid with a lot of talent, but a future in the league, too.

Chris Clemons played, but tried to either do too much, or not enough. He missed a bunch of shots, and generally looked a bit out of it. He’s going to be pushed for his spot by Jerian Grant perhaps, or Trevelin Queen. He needs to make his shots, and distribute the ball. The Rockets need a third PG, but tonight did not settle the matter.

Kenny Wooten looked bouncy, and surprisingly splashed one of three attempts from distance.

But wait, there’s more.

We also saw Mason Jones get some minutes, before heading to RGV. He could have something to offer, as well.

We saw every Rocket get a chance to play, because the new coach, Stephen Silas, didn’t panic when the Bulls second string rattled off some points against the Rockets 4th string, who had previously been up about 30pts.

Silas was a bit overcome tonight, which makes me like him even more.

“Right after the anthem started, I took a moment... It was almost a surreal feeling that I’m the head coach of the Houston Rockets.”

His scheme looked good. There were open shots all over. The Rockets played bigger, they played small. I saw at least three different looks on defense, including a sort of zone thing, and partial switching, and no switching. It’s odd to think that the Rockets can just change how they’re playing, but apparently, being pros, they can.

But wait there’s more.

The Rockets big off season signing, Christian Wood, didn’t play, being out with what is described as a minor elbow injury. Another wing signing in the the Rockets - All 6’5” Attack, Sterling Brown, remained in Houston, along with James Harden and PJ Tucker.

James, this looked fun as hell. You should give this team, this coach, a real chance.


How are you feeling now?

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  • 20%
    (132 votes)
  • 60%
    Cautiously optimistic.
    (382 votes)
  • 5%
    Pessimistic, with upside.
    (35 votes)
  • 2%
    (13 votes)
  • 10%
    Hah! We finally got you back for that Chandler Parsons thing, Mark.
    (68 votes)
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