Rockets center Isaiah Hartenstein may have moved up in the rotation with a strong performance against the Nets last night, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. With Clint Capela sidelined by a heel contusion, veteran Tyson Chandler started Saturday’s game, but Hartenstein saw more than 24 minutes of action. He wound up with nine points, 13 rebounds and a pair of dunks that electrified Houston’s bench.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “Especially just waiting for my turn and just being ready. I took the opportunity I got today and made the most of it. … I’m just doing my role. It’s not much out there, just setting screens, rebounding and just play hard. I think I’ve done a good job doing that.”
Hartenstein had been stuck on the end of the Rockets’ bench, seeing brief minutes in just two games this month prior to Saturday. Houston tends to employ a smaller lineup when Capela rests and often uses P.J. Tucker at center. Hartenstein will get another chance to change that philosophy tonight with Capela unavailable again.
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- The Rockets are well into their second season without Trevor Ariza and still haven’t found a reliable replacement for the versatile forward, Iko observes in a separate story. Ariza signed with the Suns last summer, then joined the Kings in July. “He’s more than just a three-and-D guy, although he’s really good at that,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That’s probably what we need more than anything, but I think he can do a little bit of everything.”
- After a slow start, Tyus Jones is looking like the player the Grizzlies expected when they gave him a three-year, $26MM contract this summer, notes David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jones had eight points and seven assists off the bench yesterday in Denver, continuing a string of strong December performances.
- Pelicans fans don’t know when they’ll see No. 1 pick Zion Williamson in action, but he put on a show last night in warmups, relays William Guillory of The Athletic. Williamson excited the crowd by throwing down a few signature dunks, although he constantly jumped off his left leg, taking it easy on the right one that is still recovering from meniscus surgery in October.