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The Rockets Daily – December 11, 2013

The Gift – Kevin McHale was absent from practice on Tuesday for personal reasons, which meant that assistant coach Kelvin Sampson had to step in and run practice and handle interviews. Dear readers, it’s a gift when Kelvin Sampson does interviews. He is candor con carne, and he offers insights about what the team wants to do that McHale and the players usually don’t. A few gems from Tuesday on the teams official site:

On the offense:

“We’re reading that better and we’re learning how to play around Dwight. I thought early on we were probably force-feeding him a little too much. Now we’re being a little bit more selective and Dwight is doing a good job of passing. Dwight can get a lot of touches – that doesn’t mean he’s going to shoot it a lot – Dwight’s a very willing passer. So we’re playing through him (better) and then James – James has just been a lot more efficient.”

On the question of how Jeremy Lin looked in his first practice back from a knee bruise:

“I saw flashes of the old Jeremy, but you can’t be out that long and not have some kind of effect, whether it’s cardiovascular, or trusting his injury, or trusting his physicality. You know, it’s sort of like wading your way into water.  You know, you go from two feet up to four feet, and for him it’s just getting comfortable.”

On chemistry:

I think it’s improving. I think when you add–you know there’s pieces and there’s pieces. You know, we didn’t just add a piece; we added Dwight Howard. And we’ve had to learn to play with him, and he’s had to learn how to play with us. And while we’ve been doing that it created a chemistry issue, but I think our chemistry is better today than it has been at any point. I feel good about our chemistry.

Injury Statuses – In case you didn’t click on the link above, Jason Friedman reports that Lin is back and feeling pretty good, Omer Asik and Greg Smith will still be out against Portland, and Chandler Parsons is only partially participating in practice because of his back spams.

Omer Asik: Hardballer – CBS’s Ken Berger reports that Omer Asik has switched agents from Andy Miller to Arn Tellem. Tellem is one of the NBA’s most powerful agents, with a client list for miles, which includes another Rocket: Donatas Motiejunas. This year, he was ranked the third most powerful agent in sports by Forbes magazine (no. 1 in basketball). In other words, be very, very, very surprised if Asik doesn’t get what he wants, which is a ride on the first trade out of Houston.

Loweball – Zach Lowe touched on a couple of things about the Rockets that he doesn’t like in the “Things I Like and Don’t Like” segment of his most recent column. The first involves Terrence Jones:

7. “T. Jones”

Terrence Jones has been a wonderful, springy two-way force filling the power forward spot next to Dwight Howard. He’s fun to watch, capable of rejecting a shot at one end and sprinting all the way to the other end for the fast-break dunk finish. But for reasons I can’t quite explain, I find it irritating that Houston’s play-by-play voice, Bill Worrell, insists on referring to Jones as “T. Jones” on almost every mention. I get that it’s Jones’s nickname, but it’s not really a nickname at all. It’s just a useless, additional syllable, and there are no other “Joneses” with whom we might confuse Terrence.

There’s an easy solution to this. Stop calling him “T. Jones,” and call him “The Katana.” The man cuts hard.

The second thing involves Dwight Howard:

10. Dwight Howard’s Dumb Goaltends

In Howard’s 10th season, on his second max contract, he still commits more dumb and obvious goaltends than anyone in the league. It’s maddening.

I agree. Howard is often going for the intimidation factor with those goaltends, but still. I agree.

Roots – So here’s something you don’t see every day unless you’ve set Google Alerts for the Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard talked about his faith at a Houston megachurch last Saturday. The Christian Post reports that Howard says God spoke to him when he was in a bathroom at age 12:

Sure enough, said Howard, while at the altar for prayer hours later at church, the pastor prayed with him and told him “the exact same thing” he heard in the bathroom at home.

“The pastor said, ‘Your purpose is to preach God’s word in the NBA’ and bring light to Him and what He’s doing for me and for everybody else,” said Howard.

“After going to the NBA and being here for 10 years, it’s tough, it’s very tough. God has really brought me a long way,” he added.

I always found it interesting that Howard, prior to being drafted, said that he wanted to”raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world,” sounding and looking like like the second-coming of David Robinson, but then it seemed like years went by without a peep about his faith. Maybe being in Houston, with it’s sizable evangelical community, will help Howard focus on the things that made him want to be an NBA player to begin with.

Silly – Dwight Howard turned 28 on Sunday, so his teammates attacked him with silly string, which seems like a very Dwight Howard way to celebrate your 28th birthday.

I’ve never had a 28th birthday party, but I have had an entire bottle of silly string emptied on me by Rufus, the Charlotte Bobcats mascot, for wearing a Rockets jersey and waving signs at their game a couple years ago. Didn’t seem that fun, but to each his own.

Contributor Needed - I’m still taking applications for someone to replace me as news editor, which mostly involves writing the Daily. I’ll be writing less starting around Christmas. Email me at jeby901@gmail.com if you’re interested.

About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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