The Houston Rockets held a practice today before their first meeting of the year against the Los Angeles Lakers. Coming off their third straight victory, the Rockets are playing their best basketball in several seasons. After today's practice, we spoke with Coach Udoka, Dillon Brooks and Jabri Smith Jr. We got an update from Coach Udoka on the status of Tari Eason, and of course, we heard from Brooks on his matchup with LeBron.
Brooks is facing off against LeBron James for the first time since the Memphis Grizzlies were bounced from the playoffs last season. To no one's surprise, Brooks gave his opinion on the upcoming matchup.
Dillon Brooks on his matchup with LeBron— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) November 7, 2023
“Ready to lock him up” pic.twitter.com/YnNNUMZWk5
Brooks has never lacked confidence, and honestly, his answer wasn't nefarious, as he praised LeBron in the same clip. However, we know the narrative that has already been formed about Brooks, and any comment from him will lead to a national story.
Coach Udoka also gave an update on Tari Eason for tomorrow's game.
Eason has made a speedy recovery, as he has missed the first six games of the season and his career. Udoka stated he will play about 15 minutes in tomorrow's game, which will be a massive boost for the Rockets’ bench.
Jabari Smith also spoke to the media, and I asked him about the biggest difference between last season's defense and this season's defense.
I asked Jabari what is the biggest difference between last season and this season far as the defense— Lachard Binkley (@BinkleyHoops) November 7, 2023
“The focus we have on it. Last year I felt like it was a lot of immaturity going on with me and a lot of the team”
You can tell a big difference in the team mentality this… pic.twitter.com/ENvIQ0nhHA
Smith was candid about the Rockets’ struggles last season, admitting that the Rockets weren't mature enough the previous season, but also noted the change in mentality this season that has the Rockets as a top-10 defense so far. He cited one of the reasons for this was the addition of Fred VanVleet and Brooks. The Rockets held the Kings in back-to-back games under 100 points.
You can feel the difference around the locker room and practices regarding the Rockets’ focus and how they handle their business, which has translated to three straight wins. The Rockets take on the Lakers tomorrow night at the Toyota Center.
Here are the complete interviews from today's practice over at my Rocket Fuel YouTube page.