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The Rockets Daily – December 18, 2013

Trade Winds – Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein have the latest rumblings on Asik.

Injury Report – Via the Houston Chronicle: James Harden’s ankle sprain was of the “high” variety, which is not good. Also, Jeremy Lin is now seeing a specialist for his back spasms. If you like watching the Rockets run their offense through Dwight Howard in the post, this week is an excellent time to tune in.

Welcome Back, MacKevin McHale returned to practice on Tuesday, and his players were happy to have him there.

“Not having his voice or his face over there, it makes a big difference,” Chandler Parsons told reporters. “I’m just glad to have him back. He seemed like he was in good spirits today. As players, we’re going to do everything we can to make him feel comfortable and at home and just continue to play hard and try to win games for him.”

Dwight Talk – Dwight Howard goes on the Dan LeBatard Show to talk about, well, a lot of things, but of particular interest were his comments on Stan Van Gundy, who was also on the show.

 “Looking back on the years, you know he’s made me a better player, and maybe at the time I didn’t realize it, but now, you know, I see a lot of things differently.”

And on how Van Gundy prepared the team:

“Playoff games, regular season games, we knew our opponents to a ‘T.’ We could see plays developing. You know, we could–we knew everything.”

Howard also said he’s not 100 percent the player, physically that he used to be, and that doctors/trainers say it will take him “a couple of years” to get there. He also said the game is slowing down for him, which he said would help him later in his career. Howard has the length and strength to be a very good defender even after his mobility is gone, so the fact that he seems to want to focus on the cerebral aspects of defense is a positive.

LoweballZach Lowe’s Tuesday column on Grantland digs into the rise of the 3-pointer, especially as it relates to the Rockets’ D-League affiliate:

No NBA team is doing anything close to what Smith and the Vipes are pulling in the D-League. But it’s not an accident that the Rockets’ D-League team is playing this way. Daryl Morey, Houston’s GM, controlled the search for the Vipers’ coach, and Morey made it clear he liked the run-and-gun style Smith’s teams played at Ithaca College and Keystone College, Smith says. “They wanted someone whose teams would play in the 130s,” Smith says. “I don’t think they’d ever hire someone who played in the 80s.”

Missed Opportunity – With Anthony Davis injured, Terrence Jones had a chance to climb up the Sophomore 20 Rankings on ESPN. Instead he slipped a spot, not so much because of anything bad he did (although he hasn’t shot well recently, and he’s recovering from the flu), but because John Henson is coming on strong. David Thorpe writes:

There are those who think that Dwight Howard is best complemented by a power forward who is just a pure 3-point threat to help spread the court as much as possible. That is not Jones, who is struggling from 3 in December after shooting well in November (9-for-21). Yet there are things Jones can do that help a team featuring Howard. Jones has great hands, which help him excel in transition, and he’s skilled with the ball, so he can beat defenders off the dribble from the perimeter.

He’ll turn 22 next month, giving him ample time to develop as a shooter and overall player. It would not be a surprise to see Houston anoint Jones as the permanent starter next to Howard — it’s also possible they find that person as part of an Omer Asik deal. But Jones has played well enough to allow management to fill other holes.

Jones’ ball skills are the most underrated part of his game as a stretch 4. When guys like Ryan Anderson or Ersan Ilyasova get the ball on the perimeter, there is only one result: shot’s going up. While Jones isn’t a sniper on the level of those players, he has the full compliment of small forward skills to beat his man off the dribble. He’s like a pre-Kardashian Lamar Odom.

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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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