Game Notes: Houston vs. Toronto
* Walking into the Rockets locker room tonight I was shocked at how small Aaron Brooks is. He’s listed at 6-0 and 161 pounds and I can’t help but feel that’s a bit of a stretch.
* Tracy McGrady was in a jovial mood in the locker room before the game joking around with teammates and members of the locker room staff. I wanted to chat with him about Darfur but I ran out of time and dropped the ball. Sorry.
* Before the game I was sent an email from the Raptors PR team informing me: “Reggie Evans sustained a left mid-foot sprain during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against Boston in Hartford, Connecticut. No timetable has been set for his return to game action, although it is likely that he misses the remainder of the preseason.”
* Flipping through the media guide tonight I was struck by the fact the average experience on the Rockets preseason roster is only 3.6 years. During head coach Rick Adelman’s pre-game media scrum I was able to chat with him about this and I’ll post the video clip in the media player at some point over the next few days.
* Joey Dorsey got the start today and was impressive in limited minuted. He only logged 15 minutes of burn but he went 3-5 from the field for 7 points while snagging 5 rebounds. Throw in a thunderous dunk less than two minutes into the game with his 5 points and 2 boards in first four minutes of burn and it’s clear he’s ready to contribute this season. Something else that is sure to impress Rockets fans is Dorsey wasn’t afraid to get physical while battling with Chris Bosh on the boards.
* Before the game Adelman talked about wanting to push Shane Battier’s minutes in the second game of a back-to-back and he followed through with a game high 32 minutes. Despite fighting through a hamstring injury the Rockets veteran leader was the star of the game tonight going 7-8 from beyond the perimeter proving that he’s ready to play big minutes this season. After the game Battier talked with the media what his strong play tonight meant to him, how his body felt after playing more than 30 minutes and how he felt his extra shooting practice over the last few days played a part in his strong shooting tonight.
* Pops Mensah-Bonsu got a warm reception when he entered the game midway through the first quarter. The former fan favourite turned in an inspired performance with 13 points, 7 boards and FIVE blocks. Yeah, that’s in just 23 minutes of burn. He’ll be the focus of my article for Slam tomorrow but here’s some quick audio of Pops talking about his return to Toronto, giving some love to fans in Toronto, why he’s not feeling any pressure to fit in with his new teammates and he shares why his confidence is growing.
* I looked up at the scoreboard late in the first half and the only player for Houston on the court that had scored tonight was Shane Battier (11 points). His teammates Aaron Brooks, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Carl Landry and Chase Budginger had yet to score. So much for a balanced scoring attack without Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest and Yao Ming in the lineup.
* A big reason Houston was able to stick so close in the first half is due to the fact they went a sizzling 7-14 from beyond the arc. Combine those 21 points with an impressive 53.5% (23-43) from the field and Toronto was lucky to hold a one point lead due to shooting 57.1% (24-42) from the field. Houston managed to pull away in the second half and finished the game shooting 56.0% from the field (47-84) and a blistering 56.5% (13-23) from beyond the arc.
* DeMar DeRozan has a nasty habit of jumping in the air when he makes a pass. Opposing defenses will catch onto this quickly and as they do his turnovers will quickly start to mount.