Josh Smith Not Fazed By His Critics

Atlanta Hawks fans would probably be more at ease watching Jeff Teague jump off a 20-foot ladder into a shallow pool of water than watching Josh Smith catch a pass anywhere outside of 12 feet from the rim. Considering Smith only knocked down 28-of-109 3-point attempts (25.7 percent) last season, there is a reason to be concerned.

Frequenters of Philips Arena have not forgot either. In the Hawks home opener—a 109-102 loss to the Houston Rockets—Smith was met with a chorus of gasps when he got the ball on the 3-point line with literally no one near him.

Boos followed, as Smith was unable to knock down the wide-open shot.

Still, Smith seems unfazed by the naysayers and focused on making his jump shot better. This year, he will benefit from having a new set of accomplished shooting coaches — his teammates.

Smith has already spent time working with Kyle Korver, the man who holds the record for highest single season 3-point percentage in NBA history. Korver said he thinks, with a little direction and practice, Smith might be able to silence some of his critics.

“I think Josh has the ability to be a great shooter,” Korver said. “I’m just working with him on some small things.”

Korver said he is impressed by how fast Smith is picking his tips up.

“He is a quick learner,” he said. “You don’t ever want to do a total overhaul of a guy’s shot right before the season starts, but I think there are some things that he can focus on that will help out quite a bit.”

Continuing to launch up shots, is definitely not what most would recommend for Smith given his explosiveness and ability to score around the rim, but Korver said staying the course is just one of the ingredients to being a good shooter.

“He has the mentality of ‘I don’t care if I missed the last ten, I’m going to throw up the next one,’” said Korver. “That’s what good shooters have. You can knock that, or you can praise that. The bottom line is, he has the ability to be a very good shooter.”

Although Hawks head coach Larry Drew has criticized Smith’s shot selection in the past, he seems very confident in the abilities of the versatile big man.

“The beauty about Josh is Josh knows every position on the floor,” Drew said in an interview before the season. “I can play him at three and also at times I can move him to some two. We can use him in different ways in what we do.”

It may take a while for Smith to gain the trust of the Atlanta Hawks fans, but with a visibly improved shot stroke and the right mentality, he might be on his way.

Catching Up With Devin Harris

Devin Harris took a second to chat about his new team, the Atlanta Hawks.

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Rockets Need Consistency From Role Players

The city of Houston is buzzing. With the fanfare that always seems to accompany Jeremy Lin since his anointment last year, and the acquisition of James Harden followed by two monster games, The Rockets have not garnered this type of attention in years. Amidst all of the excitement, several Rockets role players are ready to make sure the team isn’t all hype.

Harden has averaged 41 points, 7 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game in his first two starts as a Rocket. In the process, he has grabbed a lion share of the attention in Houston. However, if the Rockets plan on competing in the tough Western Conference, they will have to get steady contributions from the likes of Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik.

“We all bring something different,” Parsons told after a Rockets win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. “It’s not about one or two guys. We are a team. We are going to have a different guy every single night. It does make the game easier having guys like that.”

One player that could give the Rockets a surprise lift this season is Morris.  While Patterson sat out in Houston’s home opener Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, Morris earned his first career start but struggled from the field, shooting just 30 percent on his way to scoring 6 points. Friday night was a different story. Morris went 5-7 from the field to score 10 points in the first quarter alone. He ended the night with 17 points and five rebounds in just 19 minutes of play.

“I think the first game was fast and he had trouble settling in,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “Now he is settled in a little bit more. It gives us another opportunity to go with a bit of a hybrid three/four lineup.”

Chandler Parsons is another Rocket who has the potential to play a big role without necessarily getting a lot of offensive touches. In Saturday night’s contest against the Hawks, Parsons shot a woeful 2-9 from the field. His presence was still felt though, as he racked up 6 assists, five rebounds and three steals. He also knocked down a big three late in the game to help Houston secure the 109-102 victory.

“I try to impact the game as many ways as I can,” Parsons said. “My shot wasn’t falling tonight, but I was going to keep shooting no matter what, and I was fortunate enough to knock down that big shot in the fourth. I’m just going to make winning plays. I’m going to get assists, I’m going to get my teammates open shots. I’m going to get rebounds, I’m going to play good defense. Making shots for me is a bonus.”

The Rockets will also benefit from having Omer Asik in the post. In the season opener, Asik went for 12 points and nine rebounds. Against the Hawks, however, Asik—ironically nicknamed Big O—was unable to find his touch on offense, finishing with 0 points. So why are Asik’s coaches and teammates completely unconcerned with his lack of offensive production Friday night? Asik pulled in a career high 19 rebounds, including nine offensive—two more than the entire Hawks roster.

The Houston Rockets definitely don’t have the star power of some the other teams in the Western Conference, but McHale said he thinks the key to success this season will be finding ways to stay in games and continuing to be resilient.

“With our team, we have to hang in games and find ways to win them. We have to find a way to make plays down the stretch,” he said.

Harden and Lin have proven they can make plays down the stretch. It will be up to the role players to make sure the Rockets are constantly in a position to strike.



Catching Up With Chandler Parsons

After netting 6 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, Chandler Parsons took a second to discuss the role players on the Houston Rockets roster.

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In the Scrum With James Harden

After leading the Houston Rockets to a 109-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, James Harden took time to talk about his new role.

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