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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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PJ Tucker: "I feel good. I'm super excited about it." - Rockets 5th Day of practice at NBA Restart
Posted: July 16, 2020 -- 7:46 a.m. CT
After 5 days of practice, a couple of common themes have been mentioned by the Rockets' players: the players arrived to Orlando in good shape and defense has been solid.
P.J. Tucker and DeMarre Carroll spoke with the media Wednesday afternoon after practice.
Tucker is excited about the potential of the team's defensive capabilities.
"I feel good. I'm super excited about it," Tucker acknowledge. "We're working. Everybody is working really hard. Everybody's come in in pretty good shape. Everybody is super focused. I like our focus right now. Everybody is really focused and trying to get better; and, that's tough right now - especially to do it after having so long of a break. Everybody is super positive. Everybody is helping everybody out; and, that's all you look for -- everybody trying to be the best they can. Chip away it and make themselves as good as possible; so, we all, collectively, can be that way as a group."
DeMarre added, "It's actually been great. Especially yesterday. I think yesterday was our first time playing 5-on-5. Guys looked like they really took it serious during the quarantine; getting ready and getting prepared for this."
"PJ is going to always be active on the defensive end," DeMarre said. "You got long guys like Robert Covington who sticks out there. Danuel House. Those guys are really active on the defensive end. So, I think if we can all play together and gel; everybody compete on the defensive end; our offense is going to take care of itself. Everybody on the team can shoot threes; so, that's not going to be a problem. The main problem is we just got to be active on defense. We've got to rebound collectively because we're a smaller team. We're going to play small ball. Those are things that we really gotta focus on."
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Despite James Harden's missing the first few days of practice, Rockets Head Coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't believe Harden will need much time to get ready for the Rockets' first scrimmage on July 24th when the Rockets face the Toronto Raptors. Tip set for 6:30 p.m. Central Time.
"James loves to play. I would expect after the first couple of days we'll get him geared up; then, starting probably around Sunday, he'll start scrimmaging with the guys. Maybe even before. He loves to play; so, it wouldn't surprise me he comes right out of the chute ready to go. But, definitely by next Friday, he'll be all 100 percent."
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