New era for the Houston Rockets

Hello, Rockets fans. So far, this season has been a bit of an up-and-down ride for the new-look Rockets. Early on, the team was clunky, having trouble fitting in both Dwight Howard and Omar Asik. But lately, the team has found new life with the inspiring play of power forward Terrence Jones. I have been lucky enough to have been in the building for two of Jones’ best performances this season, and it looks like if he can continue to play like he has, the Rockets will be in good shape.

The problem the Rockets had early on in the season was spacing. How do you operate with two offensively inept centers while still allowing driving lanes for your perimeter players? It was a problem that led to a lot of forced jump shots from the perimeter by James Harden and low offensive outputs.

After a 3-3 start, the team was staring an undersized Toronto Raptors team square in the face. Coach Kevin McHale opened the game with the big lineup, but it just didn’t fit. The smaller, quicker bigs of the Raptors were too much for the larger, slower Asik and Howard Combo. The pieces just didn’t fit.

Insert Terrence Jones.

Jones entered the game with a tenacity and dedication toward the glass that was much needed. He also showed athleticism late in the game, manning up on Rudy Gay in both overtime periods for stretches. He made his case. McHale was watching.

Since the move to put Jones in the starting five, the Rockets are 3-1 and are scoring much more than 100 points per game, and the only loss came in a game where James Harden did not play. The team looks more spaced.

Against the Boston Celtics, Jones got off to a hot start, including hitting a three-pointer in the first half. Don’t get me wrong here; I am not calling Terrence Jones any Ray Allen by any stretch of the imagination. But what I am saying is that Jones can hit enough of his three-point attempts that defenders will have to rush out on him, creating either driving lanes for himself where he is a very creative finisher around the rim, or he will be able to kick to the open man when someone comes flying to him. It will create better shots for Harden, Lin and Parsons on the outside.

The Rockets knew all along they needed a stretch-four in order to make things work. What they didn’t know was whether he was already on the roster. The Rockets have invested heavily at the power forward position over the past few years, searching for a stretch-four to surface in order to entice a legit big man. Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris were determined to not be the answer and got shipped out. Greg Smith played big minutes last season but is more of a banger down low and isn’t the jump shooter the Rockets were looking for. Then there was the whole Royce White debacle; let’s not get into that. Montejunas made his bid for playing time, but a lack of consistency shooting the three has made him just another body.

Jones is making his statement that the job and minutes that go with it are his. Don’t worry, Terrence. Houston is listening.

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