ockets trainer Keith Jones was offering a pregame update last week, but he brought little news. “James Harden – game-time decision,” Jones said. “Chandler Parsons – game-time decision.” Hearing this, Aaron Brooks lifted his head from the training table and added, “Aaron Brooks – coach’s decision.” In most games, Kevin McHale’s decision was to keep Brooks close by on the bench, but with Harden out Saturday (and likely Monday in Memphis) with a sore left foot, Jeremy Lin started and Brooks stepped into Lin’s usual role off the bench and then stepped up, leading the Rockets past the Timberwolves 112-101 at Toyota Center on Saturday. Brooks likely will get more opportunities, and not just because of his performance – as stunning as it was crowd-pleasing – on Saturday. The Rockets have not completely ruled Harden out Monday or beyond, but they do not expect him to return that quickly either. After nearly three weeks of struggling with the injury, the hope is that a change in treatment will bring a solution, though it might take more than a few days off. Harden’s status in limbo “He went and saw the doctor today and they were going to change up the treatment a little bit and we’ll kind of see where it goes from there,” McHale said. “That’s the plan (to have Harden sit out Monday) as of right now, but again, we’ll see what this new stuff does. It’s all pain relevant. When the pain goes away, he’s going to play. Maybe the new treatment will alleviate (the pain.) We don’t know.” As with the other game Harden missed with the injury – last week’s overtime loss at Philadelphia – Lin started and the Rockets got a much-needed burst of scoring. But this time, Brooks took over, breaking through the Rockets’ early misfirings and tidal wave of turnovers to carry them until things settled down in the fourth quarter. The Rockets never trailed, and had not in their previous two wins, either. But this was different, if only for Brooks’ blast-from-the-past show with his former Rockets coach, Rick Adelman, on the Timberwolves’ bench. Brooks’ 26 points in 24 minutes were his most since he had 28 late in the 2009-2010 season, his first stint with the Rockets. He was 6-of-7 on 3-pointers, tossed in a pair of running hooks over Nikola Pekovic, added five assists, including an outlet pass that covered three-quarters of the court to set up Omri Casspi on a break. He also might have settled nerves as the Rockets face a potential stretch without Harden. “We got a great team,” Chandler Parsons said. “Guys step up. Aaron Brooks was unbelievable. … He’s a proven player in this league. … He’s so cool, so smooth, it does looks really easy. That’s his type of game.” Brooks’ training room comedy aside, he had grown accustomed to his place on the bench. He knew that was a strong possibility when he chose to sign with the Rockets. He had struggled in Phoenix and Sacramento, agonized for a season in China. He chose Houston to return to the scene of his success and a city he have grown to consider home.
Brooks’ 26 points off bench lift Rockets past Timberwolves
Houston Chronicle | Nov 24