Rockets shooting stars and rookie returns

Rockets Notebook

UPDATE: Starting point guard Pat Beverley is considered day-to-day with a strained left hamstring. He was injured during the fourth quarter of the 104-93 win over Utah on Wednesday. His availability for Saturday’s home opener against Boston has yet to be determined. He told the Jenny Dial Creech, Mark Berman and other local media at Friday’s practice he felt good, but wasn’t sure about playing on Saturday.

Shooting stars
The Rockets can go ahead and punch their ticket to the second round of the playoffs if they keep shooting 3-pointers as they have in the first two games. They are making an incredible 46 percent of their 3-pointers through two games. They’ve made 26-of-56 3-pointers and that’s with Troy Daniels starting the season 0-of-5. Trevor Ariza had made 9-of-15 3-pointers, while Jason Terry, who played very little in the preseason has made 4-of-6 3-pointers. Additionally, Pat Beverley, Kostas Papanikolaou and Terrence Jones have each made half of their attempts

James Harden deserves a ton of credit for the high accuracy rate because he’s been dishing the ball out exceptionally well. All 10 of his assists in the win over Utah were on 3-pointers for his teammates. On the season, Harden has assisted on 12 of the Rockets 26 3-pointers made this season and he’s made four of the others.

While facing two of the league’s worst team’s in the Lakers and Jazz clearly is a factor and the team’s percentage is sure to drop, if they keep getting the shots they have been getting, it might not drop much.

Early rookie returns
While rookies Clint Capela and Nick Johnson sit on the sidelines, two other rookies are important parts of the second unit. I wouldn’t expect  Papanikolaou to start banging home four 3-pointers in a game with regularity, but the more he’s played, the better he’s been able to find the range on his long-range shots. What has remained fairly constant is his that he knows what he is doing. He looks like he will be able to provide the Rockets some of what they lost with Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin when it comes to play-making. He had four assists in each of the first two games and is making solid entry passes into the post, which is hugely important for Dwight Howard to take advantage of teams that do not bring double-teams to defend him.

Tarik Black is the back-up center and he has been needed a lot already since Howard can’t seem to stay out of foul trouble. While he effort and energy has remained consistent with what he offered in the preseason, his positive effect on the games has waned. He’s no longer playing against players like himself hoping to make a roster, thus even against two bad teams in the Lakers and Jazz, the opposing front court players have been a bit too much for him. In 40 minutes, Black made just 2-of-7 shots and has grabbed only four rebounds. Black, though listed at 6-11, is well short of that and is going to have to learn quickly how to overcome the height disadvantage. It wouldn’t hurt if Howard stopped committing avoidable fouls.

Here’s the accompanying podcast as they prepare for the home opener against the Celtics.

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