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Rockets Start Summer League On Winning Note

July 07, 2013 2:11 pm EDT

Terrence Jones leads the way as Houston cruises to 88-80 win over Philadelphia in summer league opener

ORLANDO - What a difference a year makes.

Last July, the Rockets’ summer league roster figured to look a heck of a lot like the regular season roster they’d be sporting come the fall. The team was in the process of undergoing a massive transformation and, at the time anyway, it didn’t seem farfetched to assume that many of the same faces hitting the floor in Vegas were also going to figure prominently in Houston when the real games began. Of course, that was before the arrival of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Carlos Delfino, too. And oh yeah, that bearded fellow who went on to become an All-Star. In other words, four of the Rockets five most impactful players during the 2012-13 season weren’t even on the team yet when summer league began (Chandler Parsons being the lone exception, of course).

Fast-forward to the present day and the team doesn’t just look dramatically different, it’s also changed up its summer hoops locale. The Rockets traded desert dwelling for Disney this year while making their initial foray into Orlando summer league basketball. Some things, however, do actually stay the same. Houston’s annual summer league domination tour continued Sunday morning when the Rockets raced out to a 19-point first half lead before ultimately recording an 88-80 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers – a win that improves Houston’s summer league record to a ridiculous 30-6 since 2005.

Terrence Jones was positively beastly en route to pouring in 24 points and corralling a game-high 12 rebounds. Patrick Beverley looked as composed and in control as one would expect after seeing the way he performed down the stretch and during the playoffs last season. And “veterans” Greg Smith and James Anderson provided positive contributions as well.

It was, however, Houston’s defense that really stole the show during an opening half that saw the Rockets outscore Philly 48-33. With Beverley, Jones and Tyler Honeycutt using their quickness and length to great advantage, Houston made life miserable for the Sixers’ rather inexperienced squad. The Rockets allowed Philadelphia little in the way of quality looks, resulting in a smorgasbord of run-outs and easy transition buckets for a Houston team eager to feast off such opportunities.

“I think we got after it,” Jones said after the game. “We got off to an early lead and everybody seemed to be playing hard, running the floor and getting the job done on defense which was creating some easy buckets for us on offense.”

That Jones frequently stood at the center of it all was hardly a surprise given the fact he stuffed the stat sheet in similar fashion last year in Vegas where he averaged 18 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game. The coaches have raved about his conditioning this summer and with a year of NBA experience now tucked beneath his belt, he’s wasted little time showing off an improved jumper and attention to detail on defense as well.

“I just went out there trying to play defense and communicate,” he said. “I’m more worried about defense than offense at this point. Offensively, I just took whatever the defense gave me. I didn’t want to force anything.

“I’m just trying to put in work to be ready for next season and just concentrating on getting better every day.”

And-1s: Rockets rookie Isaiah Canaan did not play in today's game due to a sprained right ankle. He is being listed as day-to-day. Houston's next game is Tuesday against Utah at 2PM CST.