Minutes — that is the most effective thing a coach can hold over a player’s head in the NBA.
Kevin McHale did that Monday night — he didn’t like the activity level out of his big men against Denver, so he benched them. Samuel Dalembert and Jordan Hill played the first seven minutes of the game, Jordan Hill came in not long after Dalembert went out and played about the same amount of time. Neither saw the court again the rest of the game.
When Hill came out the Nuggets were ahead, by the end of the half the Rockets had taken the lead.
Here is how McHale explained it to the Houston Chronicle’s Rockets blog.
“We had no zip,” McHale said of benching of Hill and Dalembert. “(Jeff Adrien has) been practicing hard. He’s a good kid. He probably deserved to play. Finally tonight, we just had no zip, no energy and we just got big horse in there.”
Adrien was a +15 in the Rockets 9-point win.
Dalembert will get the start again next game — he’s been a quality big giving Houston an efficient 8 points and 8 boards a game — but a message has been sent. The Rockets don’t have the talent to give themselves a large margin for error. They all have to bring it every night to have a chance.