News And Notes: No Laughing Matter
Terrence Jones returns and an update on the status of James Harden and Chandler Parsons
HOUSTON - James Harden sat out today’s shootaround with the same sore right foot that forced him to miss Saturday’s game against the Clippers. Chandler Parsons was also given Monday morning off to deal with a bout of food poisoning. All in all, the news had the makings of a pretty lame April Fools’ joke. Only no one wearing Rockets’ red was really in the mood to laugh.
With just nine games left and a matchup with the Orlando Magic mere hours away, the Rockets know they can ill afford any slipups now in the battle for both a playoff spot and postseason positioning. Having all hands on deck this time of year is obviously imperative. But while Houston head coach Kevin McHale sounded more optimistic about the possibility of Parsons being able to suit up tonight, his take on Harden’s status made it seem likely that the Rockets’ All-Star will miss his second straight game due to a lingering foot injury he originally suffered February 12 against Golden State.
“I would say James probably won’t play and Chandler, we’ll see how he feels this afternoon,” said McHale. “I think it’s important that James tries to get this thing to the best level he can considering we’re short on time.
“The longer you have something that bothers you, the more accustomed you get to it and the less you think it bothers you. But then when you actually look at your play or stand way, way, way back you realize, ‘You know, I’m just not doing things the way I used to.’ An injury like he has with his foot, you just get used to playing and all of a sudden you forget, ‘Man, I had a lot more pop and zip.’ So hopefully this will help him.”
Harden says his foot is “getting better every single day” thanks to the rest and treatment he has been receiving. He also lauded his teammates’ effort Saturday night, when they made up for his absence by putting together one of their finest defensive performances of the season while crushing the Clippers 98-81.
“Guys did a good job, especially playing as a team,” he said. “Team defense was amazing. It was a total team effort. A lot of guys scored, the ball moved very well and it was a great home win for us.
"It means a lot. It gives a lot of guys confidence as well. Guys like James Anderson who really doesn’t play a lot, but he got in and played very well. Francisco hit some big shots, Greg Smith came in – just a lot of guys played well and got their confidence up a little bit.
“If I’m not healthy then I’m not helping out on the court and not playing to my best ability so hopefully the guys can keep winning, keep playing the right way and hopefully I can come back in and help them out as well.”
Lastly, the Rockets recalled rookie forward Terrence Jones from the D-League Vipers today. Jones’ latest stint with Rio Grande Valley was perhaps his most productive yet. The Kentucky product played seven games with the Vipers after recovering from a sprained thumb and absolutely stuffed the stat sheet, scoring more than 20 points a game while racking up more than 8 rebounds, two blocks and two steals per contest as well.
“I just take it as a way for me to get better and an advantage for me to try to get playing time,” said Jones of his approach toward his latest D-League assignment. “To come back from an injury and go straight into games is good for me.
“I think I’ve grown a lot, just being able to play against great competition and being able to be a part of something and get an opportunity to shoot and play a lot. It really helped me.”