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Friday March 25, 2011 5:34 PM

News And Notes

Budinger back in action as Rockets ready themselves for big road trip

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - The Rockets received good news on the injury front Friday morning as Chase Budinger returned to practice after missing just a single game due to a sprained left ankle he sustained during last Sunday’s game matchup with Utah.

Budinger took part in the vast majority of Friday’s workout and even went so far as to declare himself ready to roll for the Rockets upcoming 3-game road trip.

“It felt good,” said the second-year swingman. “I pretty much practiced the whole time, went up and down. I wasn’t limping at all. It felt good. I’m definitely going to play. I’ll be ready.”

The assembled media, meanwhile, was still buzzing about Chuck Hayes’ triple-double Wednesday night against Golden State. In the days following that achievement, Hayes has received ample attention; everything from becoming a worldwide trending topic on Twitter to being the source of discussion on several nationally televised sports talk shows.

“It’s funny to me,” said Hayes, when asked for his reaction to the sudden national spotlight. “I think about it, the attention, and I just think about my upbringing and how I came into this game as undrafted, in the D-League and on a 10-day (contract) – just my story. I think about the long road that it took to get that. Coming up, being undrafted, a triple-double seems so farfetched. Like, I would never in a million years think that would happen. I didn’t do it in high school, I didn’t do it in college, so if you told me I was going to get one at the highest level, I would have told you you’re kidding.”

As his recent triple-double would attest to, Hayes has made himself more of a factor on the offensive end than ever this season, posting career-highs across the board in nearly every significant statistical category. He’s become especially dangerous operating from the elbow, where he is exceptionally adept picking teams apart with his precision passing, and even with the occasional foray to the rim – all of which serves as a fantastic, first-person example of how to play the position for Houston’s young bigs like Jordan Hill and Patrick Patterson.

“It’s very important because that makes (opposing team defenders) honest,” said Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman. “The hardest thing is for young guys like Jordan and Patrick, when they’re weakside in our offense they’ve got to take advantage (of the fact that) when we do make cuts, that weakside big is always helping. Chuck takes advantage of that from the elbow because (his defender) is looking around for the cuts and everything else, and then he’ll just go all of a sudden on his own.

“I think you get a feel for it after awhile. Brad (Miller) is really good at it and other guys I’ve had in the past, Vlade (Divac) and Chris Webber, they were really, really good at it. These young guys, they’ll learn. Chuck’s been doing it for four years now so he’s got a really good feel.”

And 1s: Houston’s first opponent on this road trip is the Miami Heat, which should present a fascinating contrast in style. While the Rockets have been winning with superior ball movement and team play, Miami has at times struggled on the offensive side of the ball as the club continues to tinker with the best way to utilize its big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Nonetheless, the Heat still rank No. 3 overall in the league in offensive efficiency and Adelman was quick to point out that putting the ball in the hands of some of the game’s best playmakers and giving them the freedom to weave their magic is rarely a bad option.

“I think if I had the Big Three I’d probably put the ball in their hands,” he quipped. “My offense would be like Phil (Jackson’s): the triangle is good but in the fourth quarter, Kobe’s better.

“This team, our guys are comfortable with what we’re doing and we have a pretty good mix of guys who like it; a guy like Chase or Courtney; Kyle’s really picked it up; Chuck and Luis. We’ve just got a lot of guys who are active and they do the right thing. The offense we run, there’s something there for everybody. You just have to find what your strength is in that offense and take advantage of it – don’t try to do something you can’t.”

Finally, Rockets swingman Terrence Williams continues to experience post-operative issues related to his medical procedure performed on March 15. He is unable to perform basketball activities until he is medically cleared. No further timetable for his return to action is available at this time.

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