As much as Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said about Thomas Robinson’s ability to rebound and run while repeatedly describing Francisco Garcia as a “great guy,” when he spoke about “who was going to come in and play” he cited the players he had.

The Rockets changed a third of their rotation with their trade deadline moves. But before the players acquired generated their first drops of sweat, the rotation was radically changed with the promotions of Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas.

With a two-game rush, they offered glimpses of why, going from rarely used rookies to keys for the radically retooled second unit.

“They played well,” coach Kevin McHale said, in what amounts to a gushing review following a loss. “We’re going to need them. We moved a lot of guys.”

He had made a greater statement during the game when he played both down the stretch against the Wizards. In the two-game road trip, they averaged a combined 22 points on 68 percent shooting. In Washington, Motiejunas had six rebounds, Beverley four with three assists. Both expect much more.

The next level
Beverley cited the ways he has improved and the strides still to be made, then added, “For me, I think the sky’s the limit.”

Motiejunas went at least as far, while acknowledging he has a long way to go to get where he plans.


“My goal is not to be a starter,” Motiejunas said. “My goal is to be the best I can possibly be. I want to develop some of my skills that no one has developed in their lives. I want to develop something that no one has. I don’t know what. I’m working at everything. I want to be good at everything. I want to be the best at my position. I’m a long way from that. I’m taking the challenge.”

Both paid unplanned dues overseas. Beverley spent five seasons Europe after leaving Arkansas, finally getting the call while playing in Russia. Motiejunas played in Poland last season while waiting out the lockout season. Both served apprenticeships in the D-League this season. But both showed enough that the Rockets felt comfortable dealing backup point guard Toney Douglas to move up Beverley and backup power forward Marcus Morris to promote Motiejunas.

Motiejunas had not hidden his frustration, but had impressed coaches with his work ethic and attitude, and eventually with his play.