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 HOOPSADDICT.com 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.