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Rockets Game 2 Notebook: Stephen Silas Draws Inspiration From Ja Morant And Grizzlies

Inside The Rockets on FanNation logo Inside The Rockets on FanNation 10/22/2022 Coty M. Davis
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After Ja Morant scored 49 points in the Grizzlies' win over the Houston Rockets, coach Stephen Silas is hoping to replicate Memphis' success amid their own rebuild.

HOUSTON — When coach Stephen Silas was walking back to the locker room Friday night, he heard the Memphis Grizzlies celebrating their second win of the season. The Grizzlies had spoiled the Houston Rockets' home opener with a 129-122 victory inside the Toyota Center. 

Silas said he heard the Grizzlies celebrate like they were in the playoffs. Instead of feeling dejected as a result of the Rockets losing their second consecutive game, Silas once again found encouragement in defeat.

"I am not discouraged at all by this," Silas said. "I'm encouraged. They felt good about beating us because we played so hard. We want to be a team that's hard to play against, and we were."

The Rockets repeated the same level of fight showcased against the Atlanta Hawks. Instead of turnovers playing a prominent role in the loss this time, the MVP-caliber performance from Ja Morant prevented the Rockets from winning their first game of the 2022-23 season.

Morant fell three points shy of his career-high with 49 points and eight assists. 

Before the game, Kevin Porter Jr. spoke on the importance of closing the lane to prevent Morant from attacking downhill. But Houston's game plan went out the window once Morant began to rain triples from behind the arc. 

Silas said it became harder to contain Morant once he found his rhythm from deep. Morant connected on five out of his six 3-point field goal attempts.

Silas said he gave Morant praise for his impressive performance after the game. But he also told Morant that the Rockets have aspirations to be like the Grizzlies, given that Memphis was a young up-and-coming team a few years ago before breaking into playoff contention last season with a 56-26 record.

"They have a lot of talent — starting with J.G. [Jalen Green], K.P. [Kevin Porter Jr.] and Jabari [Smith]. Morant said. "It's all about coming together and finding what your strengths are and sticking to it. 

"The advice for them is to stick together. Never get too high or too low and just continue to work and get better."

Jalen Green flashes All-Star potential 

For Houston to duplicate the Grizzlies' rebuild, much will be on the shoulders of Jalen Green. The Rockets hung with a team that beat them by an average margin of 21.6 points last season. 

Green went toe-to-toe with Morant through the first three quarters, as he scored 26 points. His efficient shooting became a bit stagnant en route to scoring seven points in the final period.

Silas credited fatigue for Green slowing down a bit during the fourth quarter due to his defensive assignments. But despite the exhaustion, Green kept the Rockets afloat with the All-Star potential he showcased. 

Green finished the game with a team-high 33 points while shooting 13-of-21 from the field, four of five from behind the arc.  

"He's in year four, and I'm in year two," Green said. "I feel like I can compete with anyone out there. Ja is already a problem. But when he starts hitting that jumper, all you can do is pray that he misses." 

Alperen Sengun continues to thrive off the bench 

Alperen Sengun was projected to take the helm as the Rockets' starting center all off-season. But before Houston opened their 2022-23 campaign in Atlanta Wednesday night, Silas started Burno Fernando over Sengun.

Silas said during the Rockets' season opener that he could best utilize Sengun's most suitable attributes off the bench. When Sengun is playing with the second unit, Silas said it allows him to run more plays that result in him having the ball in his hands.

Against the Grizzlies, Sengun continued to flourish in his role off the bench, where he recorded 23 points and a dozen boards in the loss.

"The season just started," Sengun said. "That's my game, and right now, I'm playing my game. I always have confidence. I have to touch the ball."

Quick Hits:

-Fernando played 12 minutes before leaving the game with a knee injury. After the game, Silas said Fernando tweaked his knee but had no further update on his status.

-Without Fernando, Jabari Smith Jr. played as the backup center to start the third quarter. Silas noticed that Smith struggled with their blitzing defensive scheme when trying to contain Morant.

-After a subpar night shooting from behind the arc against the Hawks, the Rockets shot 45.7 percent on 3-point field goal attempts versus the Grizzlies. 

You can follow Coty M. Davis on Twitter at @CotyDavis_24

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