The Houston Rockets dropped a winnable game on Saturday in losing to a depleted Denver Nuggets outfit. Houston seems set to make its first playoff appearance since the 2008-09 season, but is the team’s power forward by committee approach enough to get the job done in the post-season?
The 132-114 loss to Denver was painful, if understandable, for Rockets’ fans. The game signified the end of a three-game Western Conference road trip and although the Nuggets were without two key starters, the altitude advantage and Houston playing on a back-to-back would have definitely played into Denver’s favor. The power forward position wasn’t the reason the Rockets lost on Saturday, but it may not be enough to keep the team in a first-round playoff series.
Starter Greg Smith (six points, four rebounds) was the least effective of the Rocket forwards against Denver. However, solid outputs from Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas (12 points) maybe would have been enough to supplement wing scorers James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino on a night where all three were healthy and in sync. Receiving consistent contributions from any of the Rockets big men is the problem Houston will experience against either San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the team’s opening playoff series.
Jones stood out for the second time in a week after having spent significant chunks of the season in the D-League. Against Denver, he showed some important outside touch the Rockets love to use from his position to space the floor and was active on the glass with four offensive rebounds. When used at appropriate times, Jones’ ball handling is also a dangerous trait.
Jones clearly has the most potential of the Rockets power forwards, but he is maybe the least consistent. Houston doesn’t have too many options and will not be able to establish a true full-time starter by the time the playoffs roll around. On most nights, it will be a role of the dice. However, if the committee can score and at the same time play solid defence, it may be enough for the Rockets to threaten its first round opponent.
Robert White covers the Houston Rockets for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.