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Eason shines again as Rockets ground Raptors 116-100

It’s only preseason, but...

Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets
You’re going to have to start him.
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Tonight the Rockets were down Jabari Smith Jr, Alperen Sengun, and Eric Gordon. It didn’t matter because they had Tari Eason, Jalen Green, Kevin Martin Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr.

The Rockets may not be a great, or even good, team, but they have great depth. The waves of athleticism and talent just keep rolling in, even down key players like the Smith, Sengun and Gordon.

Tari Eason, despite not having plays really run for him finished the night with 24 points, eight rebounds and two steals. With any luck, it would have been around 30 points, and 10 rebounds. He just has a nose for the ball, for being in the right place at the right time, and that’s something, like the rebounding gene, that’s hard to teach. His shot is looking better, and if he has time, that catapult is accurate.

To all the teams that discounted Eason because he changed schools, and didn’t start at LSU (because the team had promised starting roles to its own recruits) I can only say: Thank You! Thank you for letting the Rockets draft this man #17 in the 2022 draft. He’s just the guy the Rockets needed. I mean, every team can use a powerful 6’8” wing with broad skills, and a knack for the game, but too bad, he’s a Rocket.

In other news, Jalen Green had a very quiet 23pts on 7-16 shooting in 26 minutes. It also could have been more if the Rockets could make dunk shots. When a player doesn’t seem to be doing all that much, and is still well over 20 points, it usually means good things.

Among other good things were KJ Martin Jr making things happen and jumping out of the gym, and Kevin Porter Jr, who had a rocky start, but a strong finish. I want to see more of him with Eason, and maybe Tate, just for maximum pain for the other team.

Also appearing tonight were Daishen Nix, who looked bad, but also, strangely, almost looked good. He’s just a tick off. But as I wrote in my player preview, you simply cannot be a basket attacking guard who doesn’t make FTs. This would all work better for Nix if he seemed to have a plan, when he’s the lead guard. He just dribbles and wanders a lot, but to be fair, Toronto presents a difficult problem for non-jumbo guards.

TyTy Washington, on the other hand, looked good. He seemed a bit like a coiled spring, in that he shot almost every chance he got, but one of those was a pull back three he drained, so that’s ok. He, unlike Nix, is a true PG, and will move the offense along, or attack if it isn’t moving.

Josh Christopher also made a nice contribution, as did, surprisingly, Theo Maledon, who was mostly forced out of OKC by SG-A and Josh Giddey.

Garrison Matthews had a rough night. His defense was bad, and he missed his 3s. If he doesn’t have either of those things, he basically isn’t contributing anything, and I wonder if we could trade him to the Adelaide 36ers for Robert Franks?

This was a great game to watch, if the referees let more than 30 seconds of basketball happen. The mostly didn’t.

Anyhow, the Rockets are a very deep team, with a lot of talent. Raw talent is still talent. Sadly for the hopes of Wemby Wishers, the Rockets may win more games than you think.

As for the Raptors? They’re an awkward team to play, and an awkward team to watch. I’m not sure if I’ve seen more uncalled travels from one team, in one game, ever. Also, they pretty much all complained more or less constantly. In a preseason game. Despite shooting 38 free throws. Did they think they deserved 80 free throws? Would that have stopped the complaining?

I think a lot of the NBA commentariat love the Raptors because Toronto is a great town (it is) and because they aren’t like most NBA teams. It’s commendable. The Raptors are mostly all 6’8” and skinny, and they can all do everything fairly well. It’s also not clear that they’re great at anything.

If you simply selected for “Ugliest Shot From A Tall Guy That Also Goes In” for several drafts, you’d have the Raptors. They’re doing something different. I appreciate that. I appreciate the passion of their fans, too. But I truly wonder just how many Raptors games these NBA writers and podcasters actually watch?

The Rockets play the Heat on Monday, and wrap up the pre-season with their final game on Friday. Which is kind of odd.


Do you have a crush on Tari yet?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (229 votes)
  • 6%
    No, but I plan on it.
    (29 votes)
  • 1%
    No, I’m foolish.
    (5 votes)
  • 40%
    Soon the world will have a crush on Tari.
    (179 votes)
442 votes total Vote Now