Rockets Notes: House, Gordon, Tucker, Westbrook

The Rockets will have to sort out their starting lineup and bench rotation due to recent additions and subtractions and coach Mike D’Antoni will do a lot of experimenting, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. The first order of business is to choose between forward Danuel House Jr. and guard Eric Gordon as the fifth starter in the team’s small-ball lineup. House started and played 19 minutes on Thursday against Golden State but Gordon was sidelined by a shin injury.

Gordon hopes that D’Antoni doesn’t waste too much time making up his mind.  “As a player, it’s a totally different mentality when you’re starting or coming off the bench,” he told Feigen. “We definitely have to get our roles set as we go on.”

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Golden State forward Draymond Green believes the Rockets’ small-ball look is working because of P.J. Tucker‘s unselfish play as a very undersized center, Feigen relays in another story. “They look good at it,” said Green, who has played a lot of center in small ball units with the Warriors. “And they have some guys that are good at it. It helps a lot having P.J. because he can anchor that lineup. If you throw another shooter, a guard out there, it’s not going to work. The person that makes it work is P.J.”
  • By trading center Clint Capela, the Rockets opened up more space for Westbrook to operate, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic details. Westbrook believes it has made a difference. “I just try to find ways to make an impact,” Westbrook said. “Obviously, with this style of playing, different guys on the floor have to be able to guard in a lot of space, which is to my advantage. See, internally, we don’t think it’s small ball. We just play our personnel and go compete, and that’s it.”
  • Westbrook becomes nearly as efficient a scorer as James Harden when there isn’t a true center on the floor, as Kelvin Pelton of ESPN details. His true shooting percentage in those lineups is the best in his entire career. Westbrook never developed pick-and-roll chemistry with Capela and he’s benefited from having help defenders pulled away from the basket since he’s surrounded by 3-point shooters, Pelton adds.
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