To Rockets coach Rick Adelman, consistency trumps contrast.
When fans initially heard the Rafer Alston trade Thursday afternoon, much of the immediate reaction was negative.
In addition to questioning the team going forward without an experienced starting point guard, many wondered why the team would trade away Alston's size for Kyle Lowry, another 6-foot jitterbug of comparable height and style of play to Brooks.
According to Adelman, that's exactly the idea.
Adelman doesn't want one point guard to push the tempo and the other to play in the halfcourt. He wants to push the ball for 48 minutes and hopes the rest of his team -- including traditional halfcourt players such as Yao Ming, Ron Artest and Shane Battier -- can adjust to a quicker-tempo offense.
"Everybody thinks it's fast break basketball, but it's really not," Adelman said last night. "You need to flow into a transition game where the other team can't pick up what you are doing.
"If you're always making a (delayed) play call, everybody in this league is too good. They know what's coming. We want to have a transition-type game that defenses have a hard time covering."
After one game, Artest was already a fan of the new emphasis.
"It was bad enough that we had Yao attacking, now we have a point guard that can get in there whenever we wants to, and we have Von who can get in there anytime he wants to, and me who can get in there anytime I want," Artest said. "It's going to make it harder for the other team and take a lot of pressure off us."
Third-quarter turnaround: The Rockets got off to a sluggish start Friday night, falling behind by 16 and taking a 51-44 deficit to the half.
But in the third quarter, the Rockets stifled the Mavs defensively to go on a 24-6 spurt and take a 68-57 lead. They would never trail again.
"I think we settled down," Battier said. "We were all a little anxious early on and we tried to cram 50 games of chemistry into two quarters of basketball. We were all a little nervous and it showed out there.
"Once we settled down, we came out and played much better defense... and we were able to make a run there. It was a great way to respond from a subpar first half."
The other addition: A day after acquiring Lowry in the Alston deal, the focus was on the Rockets' new situation at point guard.
However, in addition to getting Lowry, the Rockets also acquired power forward Brian Cook from the Magic. Cook has played sparingly this season, but has power legitimate size at 6-foot-9, 250 pounds and a tremendous outside stroke, hitting 44 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
While he didn't play Friday night, the team is hopeful he'll be able to play in spots to prevent other big men from sagging down low and double-teaming Yao, much the same way Matt Bullard took heat off Hakeem Olajuwon more than a decade ago.
"I'm coming in to work my tail off," Cook said. "It's not Yao's job to help me; it's my job to help him. I'm here to spread the floor and give him some more room."
Injury update: Carl Landry sat out Friday's game after spraining his ankle earlier in the week against the Nets.
However, the reserve power forward said he was feeling much better and anticipated being able to play on Sunday, when the Rockets take on Charlotte.
Chuck Hayes took Landry's spot in the rotation, playing 12 minutes in relief of Luis Scola and grabbing two rebounds.
-- Ben DuBose
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