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News » Adelman, Rockets rely on bench Reserves give edge in scoring over counterparts

Adelman, Rockets rely on bench Reserves give edge in scoring over counterparts

Adelman, Rockets rely on bench Reserves give edge in scoring over counterparts Rockets UPDATE

Friday: Rockets 105, Thunder 94.

Record: 4-2.

Tuesday: At Dallas Mavericks , 7:30 p.m.

TV/radio: FSH; 610 AM and 850 AM (Spanish).

Of all that had been worthy of Rockets coach Rick Adelman's concern, the production of his bench seemed down the list.

He worried about that, anyway.

With his top three scorers from last season, Yao Ming, Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady, out or elsewhere, and his sixth man, Von Wafer, allowed to walk, depth did not seem likely to be a strength. It is not easy to be short-handed and deep at the same time.

The play of the bench has gone from a presumed liability to a strength. The Rockets' second unit has outscored its opponents by an average of 36 to 26.8. In the three games last week, the bench outscored the Jazz, Lakers and Thunder by an average of 37 to 16.7.

The Rockets have done that going with three players - point guard Kyle Lowry, shooting guard/small forward Chase Budinger and power forward Carl Landry - with center David Andersen mixing in for cameos.

Each position covered

"Our bench comes in, we have Chase scoring points, Carl scoring big points," Lowry said. "It works because we have great balance. Up front, Carl and Dave coming off that bench are pretty effective. Chase and myself, we're out there pushing tempo and making plays. I guess it's working."

With a short bench, the Rockets don't give their reserves extensive minutes. But they have produced enough in the time they have gotten to rank third in the NBA in points per minute, less than a point shy of league leaders Atlanta and New York. The Rockets are eighth in bench scoring.

Especially against Oklahoma City on Friday, the bench has brought needed energy, with Adelman saying Lowry "really kind of changed the whole tempo of the game for us."

"He's always looking," Landry said. "When Kyle has the ball, I'm running, I'm cutting. But I'm keeping my eyes on him all the time because you'll never know. He'll throw a pass on the side of your defender's ear, right in your hand. He's a great point guard. He'd be a starting point guard on almost every team in the league."

"The Rockets will not be anywhere near as deep as some of the Western Conference contenders, particularly Dallas, Tuesday's opponent. But because their three regulars off the bench cover each area, with a point guard and a wing and a power forward, the bench can be one or two players shorter than others and provide significant playing time and production.

Asked if he expected this, Adelman charitably said, "Not really.

"Kyle and Carl and Chase have been very consistent," Adelman said. "David has given us some stuff. I feel very comfortable with the guys off the bench. I was trying to feel it out and see how the rotation was going to go. But when they give you production, I was able to leave them in there for long periods of time, rather than get the starters back in, so that's nice to see."

The offense off the bench also has been efficient, with the reserves making 47.5 percent of their shots, sixth best in the NBA, and 40 percent of their 3s (seventh best).

Mesh efficiently

"We're working well together as a team," said Budinger, who has averaged 10.6 points per game. "We play really unselfish. I think that's leading to our success right now.

"I think the scoring the bench has been doing with me, Carl, Kyle, DA coming in, it makes it tough for teams to play us."

Even for Adelman, that was tougher to predict.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 10, 2009


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