NBA: Tinkering Rockets test style against stumbling Warriors

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Feb 20 2020 09:51 AM

Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington (33) and forward P.J. Tucker (17) celebrate the three point basket scored by guard Eric Gordon (10) against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center. File photo. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.

The Houston Rockets are expected to trot out an even newer lineup Thursday night when they return from the All-Star break to face the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

Since last seen beating the Boston Celtics 116-105 on Feb. 11, the Rockets have agreed to terms with forwards Jeff Green and DeMarre Carroll, each of whom had been cut by a fellow Western Conference playoff contender.

Green signed a 10-day contract Wednesday, giving him in essence a four-game tryout to see how well he fits into the Rockets' system. He practiced with his new team for the first time Wednesday in San Francisco.

Green was waived by the Utah Jazz in December after averaging 7.8 points in 30 games.

Carroll was waived by the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week after agreeing to a contract buyout. Carroll (2.2-point average in 15 games) had to clear waivers before signing with the Rockets. That announcement is expected by Thursday.

Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, whose team has the fifth-best record in the Western Conference (34-20), admitted there might be a feeling-out period for his rearranged cast.

"We're trying to get better. At the same time, we have to win games," he expressed to reporters Wednesday. "We want to get a good seed if possible. The most important thing is to get the team right and playing well as we go into the playoffs. The second thing is to get a good seed. Our objective is to do both."

The Rockets went into the break having won five of seven to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. They've gone 2-2 since trading big man Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks in a four-team deal that netted forward Robert Covington from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Covington averaged 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in those four games, shooting 11-for-32 (34.4 percent) from 3-point range.

The Rockets have attempted 40 or more 3-pointers in nine straight games, including all four since Covington has been adding an average of eight per game to the total.

They made 21 of 45 when they beat Golden State 129-112 at home in November but then made just 16 of 51 in a Christmas Day loss in San Francisco.

The Warriors took a four-game losing streak into the break, and due in part to having had the past seven days off, haven't won a home game in over a month. They've gone 0-4 at their new home venue since beating the Orlando Magic on Jan. 18.

Golden State (12-43), which has two fewer wins than any other team, enters the final 27 games counting the days until the arrival of three key players -- Stephen Curry from his broken hand, Klay Thompson from his torn ACL, and an expected high draft pick in June.

Curry, who sustained his injury in the fourth game of the season in October, is scheduled for an examination next Friday. He is expected at that point to get a green light to return to practice, and shortly thereafter to games.

Thompson probably won't be back this season.

The recent addition of Andrew Wiggins and the upcoming draft pick, whoever it might be, had Warriors owner Joe Lacob gushing about a bright future during the All-Star break.

"You add one guy and it can change everything," he said. "We already happen to have two of the greatest shooters of all time. Look at the games. We've only been losing by six or eight points. But add those two guys, and we're already pretty good."

While the Rockets were adding players over the break, the Warriors were subtracting. Jeremy Pargo and Zach Norvell Jr., signed to 10-day contracts earlier this month, were not retained.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).