Rockets Notes: Motiejunas, Beverley, Smith

The Rockets scored 64 points in the paint in the win over the Suns on Friday night but their strategy isn’t new, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle“We push the ball into the paint off the dribble, off of offensive rebounding and off of passing. That’s what we try to do. We try to get the ball into the paint. If you’re pretty committed to getting the ball into the paint, you can get some fouls on your way there or once you get there,” coach Kevin McHale said. Houston, with a record of 30-14, is seventh on the season in scoring, averaging 103.1 points per game.

Here’s more from Houston:

  • Donatas Motiejunas is one of the league’s more valuable trade assets, writes Bill Simmons of in part 1 of his nearly annual trade value column. Simmons believes that Motiejunas is one of a few young big men who could play heavy minutes in the playoffs. The Lithuanian power forward is scoring 10.9 points in 27.7 minutes per game this season, both career highs.
  • Patrick Beverley has taken it upon himself to carry more of the team’s offensive burden, writes Feigen in a separate piece. “James gets so much attention so just kind of trying to take some pressure off him to make every play. He’s a human being, gets tired sometimes. I take it upon myself to be aggressive and it worked out,” Beverley said. The point guard is averaging 11.5 points per game and sporting a player efficiency rating of 13.4 this season, which is below league average.
  • Inconsistent play has plagued Houston in recent weeks but fans should expect better play to come internally rather than from new additions to the team, writes Feigen in a separate piece. “We’ve been up and down the last four or five weeks,” McHale said. “We’ve got to settle in and start playing better basketball. One thing we’ve been the last four or five weeks is wildly inconsistent. We have to shore that up.”  The team is 7-6 in January and only 10-7 since acquiring Josh Smith in late December. It seems as if the team needs time to gel with all of its new parts and with a seven and a half game lead over the Pelicans and Thunder, who remain out of the playoff picture, the Rockets’ playoff chances do not yet seem to be in jeopardy.

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