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Mike D'Antoni: "Today was a good day." - Rockets 4th Day of practice at NBA Restart

Posted: July 14, 2020 -- 5:00 p.m. CT

This afternoon, the Houston Rockets practiced for a fourth consecutive day in Orlando. The team spent more time practicing 5-on-5 today than the three previous days. Based on post-practice comments, the 5-on-5 was a success - especially on defense.

"Today, we played a lot more 5-on-5 which is really the first day that we got into it," Mike D'Antoni, Rockets Head Coach told the media via conference call. "So, it was good. They had three days of ramping up; and, then, today, we went after it pretty hard.

"Not a long 5-on-5; but, I thought it was really good. I thought the defensive intensity was super. And, every day, we'll play a little bit more. Do a little bit less individual work in the practice.

Austin Rivers added, "It went better than expected. I thought basketballs were gonna be flying everywhere. We were going to be out of breath. You know, whatever the case may be; but, we actually, looked pretty good.

"Our defense surprised more than anything else. (laughing) I know Rockets and defense don't usually go hand in hand; but, we were a pretty solid team defensively."

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Coach D'Antoni provided more context regarding the length of the 5-on-5.

"But, you know, just to give you an idea: the first three days we keep them around about the equivalent of a 20 minute game. Twenty-two minutes. And, then, today, we probably ramped it up to about a 26, 28 minute game. The next day it will be a little bit more and then just try to get them up to where they feel good."

Rivers mentioned the team moved the ball well on offense.

"Offensively, we moved the ball," Rivers said. "Again, it's quite an adjustment. We're playing without James (James Harden) and Russ (Russell Westbrook) right now which is a lot of our offense. Most of our offense; so, it'll be an even bigger adjustment when they come down here. But, it's actually nice, in some ways, that we're starting without them because the energy is so high right now.

Rivers believes the Rockets will get a jolt of energy when Harden and Westbrook join the team in Orlando.

"I would imagine for most teams probably like around Thursday or Friday that energy will kind of go down because that's a lot of practices in a row," Rivers remarked. "Where ours might go down, we get James and Russ it's going to be like a whole jolt of energy when we have them back; and, we'll have another good practice. Then, we'll probably have a day off or whatever. So, yeah, it's been great."

Veteran center Tyson Chandler likes how the team has looked thus far.

"I like where we're at right now," Chandler said. "I like the energy of guys. Honestly, we're a lot better than I thought we would be. It was a long layoff. I didn't know the type of shape the guys would come in.

Chandler admitted he had some difficulty staying motivated to workout during the long layoff," Chandler remarked.

"I know how difficult it was for myself trying to maintain - not even just staying shape - but, you know, any kind of motivation to work out.

"I was surprised guys came back and it seems like everybody is in decent shape. The movement is good. Now, it's timing. I bet the coaches are kind of surprised we've already kind of picked it up; and, then the scrimmages and things with just a couple of practices under our belts. So, I think it's good; and, it gives us a chance to get rolling and then when those come in. Those guys are working out right now; and, I expect things to pick up and even be better."

D'Antoni was asked who, if any of the players, jumped out to him during today's scrimmage.

"Today, we had a lot of guys because on the defense it's mostly a team thing," D'Antoni acknowledged. "So, the intensity was good from everybody. From both teams. And, then, when we got scrimmaging, probably, Eric Gordon jumped out. He was bombing it. Looked really good.

"Covington looked good as usual. Just a lot of guys. I hate to leave somebody out; but, a lot of intensity and a lot of what we're trying to get done. Today was a good day."

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