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- The Rockets announced moments ago that they have lifted rookie Royce White‘s suspension. A team spokesman said White, who was suspended Jan. 6 for refusing to report to the club’s Developmental League affiliate — the Rio Grande Valley Vipers — is expected to report to the D-League on Feb. 11. White and the club released a joint statement that states, “The Houston Rockets and Royce White have today reached an agreement that addresses the major issues that they have been discussing, provides a new start, and gives Royce the best opportunity for long-term success as a Rocket. … The NBA and NBA Players Association have approved the settlement.”
- Veteran wing Carlos Delfino has provided the Rockets with productive minutes off the bench over the last five games, averaging 15.4 points and 3.0 rebounds while knocking down 45.9 percent (17-for-37) of his 3-point attempts. Delfino’s efficiency comes as no surprise to coach Kevin McHale, who said the eighth-year player’s experience in big games on various stages makes him a vital member of the youngest roster in the NBA. “Young guys are inconsistent. Young guys are finding out their game,” McHale said. “It’s a constant work [to improve and adjust], and that’s why veteran guys just come out and play the game easier. … You handle situations better … and you already have all your counter moves built in.”
- Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said he is looking for a stronger effort from his bench, which has been outscored by opponents’ reserves by an average of 36.0-24.3 over the last three games. Improvement in this area may hinge on the performance of Andray Blatche, who has poured in only 5.7 points per game on 33.3 percent (6-for-18) shooting in his last three outings.
- Carlesimo prefers to play with larger lineups, but that does not mean he does not admire Houston’s up-tempo, small-ball style. “I don’t like playing against them. I love watching them play,” Carlesimo said. “I just think that the way they put the team together and the way Kevin [McHale] has them playing is very well suited for their personnel. … He’s doing a really good job of utilizing the talent he has.”
- The Rockets, who are 8-1 at Toyota Center this season against Eastern Conference opposition, have defeated the Nets 11 times in a row. Brooklyn will attempt to avoid suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since Carlesimo replaced Avery Johnson as head coach approximately one month ago.
– Matt Miller