Posts Tagged ‘Keith Jones’

Rockets Get Moving To Ditch Jet-Lag Daze After Long Jaunt To Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — When the cabin door on the chartered 747-700 jumbo jet at long last swung open at Ninoy Aquino International Airport following a 8,534-mile, the Rockets stepped out into the smog-filled sunshine and just might have wondered if they’d ever left home.

2013 Global Games - Philippines

Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and the rest of the Rockets got in a cardio-heavy workout after arriving in Manila.

Dwight Howard, James Harden, Jeremy Lin and their teammates were immediately wrapped in the 87-degree heat and bear-hug humidity of what could have been another morning on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

That would be just as well to the coaches, athletic trainers and support staffs of the Rockets and Pacers teams that will play a pair of games this week in Manila and Taipei. For while the annual Global Games that dot the planet during the preseason schedule are part of the important growing business of the NBA, it is the business of those who handle the players to make sure all that surrounds these barrier-breaking stops in exotic locales is as close as possible to another night in an NBA city.

The phalanx of police officers, security personnel and airport workers that lined the tarmac to see the NBA stars disembark was enthusiastic, yet polite while wavering, jumping up and down and snapping photos with their smart phones. But the interactions with the public in this basketball-mad nation would wait for later as the Rockets boarded their team bus and headed straight to the new Mall of Asia Arena for an immediate practice before even checking into their hotel.

“It might sound crazy, but it actually felt really good to get out there and run up and down the floor and kind of clear out some of those clogged pipes after spending more than 20 hours on an airplane,” said Rockets forward Chandler Parsons.

That was exactly the intention of Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones, who wanted to shake the players out their lethargy and begin to fight the effects of jet-lag right away.

“The old saying is that it takes you roughly one day to adjust for every time zone you go through,” Jones said. “We jumped ahead 13 hours, so there’s really no way that we’re going to catch up over here. The trip is only eight days long and we’ll be back at home while most of their bodies are trying to figure this out.

“What we want to do is keep them hydrated, fed properly and try to get them as close as possible to a normal sleeping schedule.”

Eddie Romero, executive chef at the Toyota Center, has made the trip and is monitoring the four meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner and a late snack — served. No dairy, no heavy sauces. Mostly grilled fish, beef and chicken with vegetables, usually cooked in olive oil.

On their short trip to the practice arena, most of the Rockets got their first glimpse of this congested, chaotic capital city. It’s a population of 12 million where a crowded intersection of two six-lane thoroughfares often shares space with tattered laundry hanging from a rope line while a single file line of eight goats come out of some tall weeds and prance into traffic.

It’s a tropical climate where palm trees are found on virtually every block of downtown, sharing space with basketball hoops — some of regulation-sized fiberglass backboards, others nailed haphazardly to poles — around the turn of almost every corner.

“I was in Taiwan just a couple of weeks ago and so I know how crazy, from first-hand experience, those people can get about basketball,” Parsons said. “And from everybody I’ve talked to and the things I’ve heard about, the passion is even more intense here in the Philippines. So, yeah, it’s a little bit inconvenient to make a trip like this at a time when we need every day to build some chemistry and try to come together to challenge for a championship.

“But you know what? This is a special cultural experience. There people love our game, love our league. So the least we can do is suck it up and make the most of it. I’m sure by the time Thursday comes and we’re ready to play that first game over here, we’ll be ready. But right now, on this first day, I’m really just trying to stay hydrated, stay fed and stay awake until after the sun goes down. Because right now I’m out on my feet.”

Yao’s Limit? 24 Minutes!

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Just so we are clear on this one, Rockets center Yao Ming plays 24 minutes a night this season and not a second more?

That’s the word from the brass in Houston, where the prospect of another injury-plagued season for the franchise center has led to this somewhat perplexing move.

We understand the sentiment, preserving the big fellas body until the playoffs.

We just don’t understand how anyone is going to be able to enforce this mandate when Yao is at 23 minutes and 57 seconds with two minutes to play in a crucial, must-win game.

Does anyone really expect the competitor in him to simply abide by this rule and take a seat when his team needs him most?

According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. And there’s little to no room for debate:

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey pledged that he and coach Rick Adelman will not come to blows over a star center’s playing time, something Bulls vice president John Paxson and former coach Vinny Del Negro did when limiting Joakim Noah’s minutes last season as the Rockets will Yao’s this season.

Yao will play no more than 24 minutes per game, Rockets vice president and athletic trainer Keith Jones said. There will be no exceptions. If Yao has played his 24 minutes and the Rockets have the ball and eight seconds on the clock to make up a one-point deficit, Yao will not play those eight seconds.

Yao’s playing time will not average 24 minutes; it will end there. If he plays 22 minutes in one game, he will not play 26 the next. For that matter, if he plays two minutes one game, he will not play 26 the next. When Yao reaches his 24 minutes, he will be through for that game.

Again, the theory is relatively sound.

Executing this plan, however, won’t be nearly as easy it seems on paper. Things didn’t exactly work out in Chicago, hence Del Negro eventually being shown the door due in large part to his strained relationship with Paxson.                   

And that’s why the Rockets left some wiggle room to tweak this system as the season wears on.

But they are standing on the mountain of research that led them to this point, including the sobering history of Yao’s past five seasons — the big fella has missed all or part of those five seasons with bone-related injuries.

Morey explained:

“We’re going to take what we think is a cautious approach to try to make sure he is healthy throughout the playoffs,” he said. “Does anyone know for sure what that best approach is? No. The question then becomes who is best to make an educated case, so given that criteria, you go with our medical staff.

“We have evidence that when he played 35 to 40 minutes he averaged two years ago there was a buildup of stress on his foot that led to it being injured in the playoffs. On some level, we have at least one indication 35 to 40 minutes might be too much. That would lead you to choose to look at having a limit.”

It’ll be interesting to see if this approach changes if Yao’s limit has a negative impact on the Rockets’ ability to compete for the playoff spot everyone seems to be taking for granted.

Last we checked, the Rockets missed the playoffs without Yao last season.

So there’s no guarantee they make it this year with a part-time Yao!

And no, having Erick Dampier on retainer doesn’t make up for the time spent playing without Yao.

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