A new start for Donatas Motiejunas

After last night’s victory, Kevin McHale stated that he opted to keep Dwight Howard on the bench late in the game because his back had stiffened up.  I had been tweeting during the game’s closing minutes that it was a great coaching move on the part of McHale to stick with Motiejunas down the stretch.  It’s anyone’s guess whether McHale’s stated reason was true.  However, considering that he kept Terrence Jones–who had been beasting up until the fourth quarter–on the bench as well, closing out with Casspi and Motiejunas inside, I suspect McHale’s statement regarding Dwight was given to avoid controversy and that his true intentions were to reward Motiejunas.  If I’m right on that, I love it.  Either way, I love what happened.

As we are all too familiar, Motiejunas is a player who desperately needed something to go right for him this year.  After some nice flashes offensively last season, he’s been chained to the bench since after appearing at times like the worst interior defender in the entire league.  A game like last night is exactly what D-Mo needed to prove to himself that he is capable of playing defense in this league.  He battled Zach Randolph, one of the most physical power forwards in basketball, and survived.  It wasn’t pretty, Z-Bo had his way on a few occasions, and D-Mo took some shots (including an elbow to the throat), but his limbs are still in tact and he’s still alive and standing.  Experiences like that are what cause a player to reflect back and build confidence.  Hopefully Motiejunas now understands the level of physicality he must bring to earn playing time.  And now he knows he’s capable.  Had McHale just pulled him after the Dwight danger had passed (Howard was on the bench due to foul trouble), there wouldn’t have been much to draw upon.  But the former Celtic great left D-Mo in until the very end.  It was a risky move that could have cost the team the game.  But its the type of move that Gregg Poppovich would have made, sacrificing a bit in the present for the sake of the future.  Maybe its a sign that McHale is settling in?

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Sometimes, a contending team doesn’t show how great it is by winning on a last second clutch shot.  It doesn’t show how great it is even by blowing out the other team.  Instead, the Rockets showed their contending ability and talent…by winning against the Memphis Grizzlies despite playing like garbage for the vast majority of the game.

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in game coverage

The Rockets Daily – December 26, 2013

The True Meaning of Chandlermas – In addition to hitting some insane threes last night, Chandler Parsons sacrificed his greatest asset to honor a 10-year-old cancer patient named Patrick Hobbs-DeClaire. Jason Friedman has the skinny:

But it is Parsons who has formed the tightest bond with Patrick, with each providing the other something neither one could have possibly anticipated or foreseen. For Patrick, the hospital visits and in-game, personal gestures from his real life hero produce the kind of eager anticipation and ear-to-ear smiles that can be the nourishing lifeblood necessary for any person or family that finds themselves locked in a perpetual battle between hope and doubt, life and death. Parsons, meanwhile, has been exposed to a brand of heroism that strikingly transcends anything that can be found on a basketball court. He was so moved after visiting Patrick last week, in fact, that he decided to shave his own head as a sign of solidarity. Parsons’ signature locks were shorn last night.

Professional athletes have the means to brighten the lives of kids in a special way. Because of the way kids idolize stars, a gesture from one of those guys has value in the eyes of a child that money can’t match.  Parsons laid it all out there. He let the world know he was playing for the happiness of one little kid. Then he marched out on the court and drilled incredible shots on the way to a win.

LeBron James threw down some amazing dunks yesterday. James Harden had a fourth quarter for the ages. But Chandler Parsons delivered the most this Christmas.  [read more…]






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