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Rockets’ Gary Clark explains how he went from undrafted to taking Carmelo Anthony’s minutes

Gary Clark, Carmelo Anthony, Rockets

Two-way player Gary Clark has made the splash the Houston Rockets needed to dig themselves out of a poor start to the season, going from being a hopeful undrafted rookie in the league to the rookie taking the bulk of Carmelo Anthony’s minutes.

“I used to hear it all the time,” Gary Clark told Maurice Bobb of Bleacher Report after Houston’s 132-112 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night. “They didn’t think I could play in the NBA. That was the one thing that I heard more than anything else: ‘This kid, he’s too small, he’s not long enough, he’s not athletic. He can’t shoot it that well, so he can’t play in the NBA.'”

Criticism, like it is for some in the NBA, turns into liquid fuel, one Clark has burned up during his short stint with the Rockets, quickly ascending as one of Mike D’Antoni’s favorite cogs off the bench.

“Gary Clark’s a player,” D’Antoni said after Clark posted a six-point, eight-rebound performance, sprinkling a steal and a block in 33 minutes in Houston’s 115-103 win over the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 11. “He’s a player. His defense, his rebounding—smart, right position, shoots the ball. I mean, he’s a player.”

Clark isn’t a show-stopping scorer or a deadly 3-point marksman, but he has managed to do the right things to keep himself on the floor.

“When it comes down to winning, I do the things that a team needs,” Clark said. “I don’t always score. I will never complain about scoring or shots. But you’ll see me getting steals, rebounds, blocking shots, getting other guys opportunities to score. All I’m about is winning.”

The rookie is a low-maintenance player, one who will get his elbows and knees dirty and be content with his play as long as the team wins, which is the unselfish attitude the Rockets had long been looking for during their early struggles.

His play has already been noticed by the team’s biggest stars, as James Harden didn’t take long to see his contributions.

“You can just see it,” Harden said. “From blocking shots to running the floor to rebounding the ball and grabbing offensive rebounds — just the way he plays — that’s what we need from him.”

Gary Clark has soaked up most of Anthony’s minutes since the team cut ties with him and sent him to basketball limbo, still a part of the roster, but away for the team as both sides work on a way to allow him to continue his career in the NBA.