When the Rockets needed a big performance out of Omer Asik, the backup center delivered. The Rockets hosted the Utah Jazz on Monday night, and center Dwight Howard was a late scratch because of a mild high ankle sprain. Asik, the starter last season, stepped into Howard’s role and the Rockets didn’t miss a beat as they rode his first double-double of the season to a 124-86 win in front of a sold-out Toyota Center. Asik had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the 38-point win, which marked the Rockets’ largest margin of victory this season. “We have a really good backup center,” guard James Harden said. “We know what he can do. He did it all of last year. I wasn’t surprised.” Asik wasn’t the only Rocket who made a big contribution en route to the bounce-back win. In addition to Asik stepping up in Howard’s absence, forward Terrence Jones had a huge offensive impact, leading all scorers with 30 points. “We knew it was important to come out and get a good start,” Jones said. “Being back home after three losses and playing without Dwight. We wanted to be sure we got this win.” After three straight road losses, it was evident from the get-go the Rockets were in search of a win that would wash away the bad taste they had from Sunday’s loss to Miami. Rare morning workout To get the team off on the right foot, coach Kevin McHale called for a shootaround Monday morning — the first time this season the team has had a shootaround on the second day of a back-to-back. “I just wanted it to be a game day and for us to have that rhythm,” McHale said. “I wanted to get them in the gym and get them in the right mindset.” Howard went through the morning shootaround. McHale said he knew Howard’s ankle was bothering him but was surprised he didn’t play. The Rockets will take Tuesday off to rest. Howard is listed as day-to-day, but McHale said he didn’t think the injury was serious.
Rockets destroy Jazz to snap three-game slide
Houston Chronicle | Mar 18