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Houston Rockets hope to find more minutes for Nene

From NBA media reports

* Recap: Rockets 124, Blazers 117

No one wants to upset the order of things when a team is playing the way the Houston Rockets are currently. Winners of nine straight games with James Harden and Chris Paul both operating at their comfortable best, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has to figure out how best to reintegrate Nene into the mix.

And this isn’t just some regular rotation player. Nene was critical to the Rockets’ cause last season, playing crucial minutes off the bench for a Rockets team that put together an impressive season before Harden ran out of gas in a playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs. Now D’Antoni has some decisions to make, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Nene had played just three of the Rockets’ past six games. He has played 19 minutes, the playing time the Rockets target for him, just once this season, averaging 14.4 minutes going into Saturday’s game against the Trail Blazers.

“I don’t know how important it is right now,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “The biggest thing is just to make sure he’s healthy going into the playoffs. That’s the biggest thing we want to do and getting his rhythm before that happens. But that’s a long time from now. I’m not worried about that right now.”

Still, that can be a longer process even for regular-season games with Clint Capela earning more playing time, the Rockets often going to small lineups, with either Ryan Anderson or P.J. Tucker at center, and D’Antoni trying to give Tarik Black some playing time to stay sharp.

“We want to keep (Nene’s playing time) to 20, 19,” D’Antoni said. “That’s a little (because) of Clint playing really well, a little bit of (Nene) being out of rhythm and to get back in it just takes a little while. If he’s in the 15 to 20 mark, that’s about right.”

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