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Rockets’ James Ennis returns, Carmelo Anthony to the bench

Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis

After missing three games in a row, Houston Rockets forward James Ennis is set to return to action Friday against the Brooklyn Nets on the road. With Ennis back, forward Carmelo Anthony will revert back to a bench role, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Anthony was plugged by Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni into the team’s starting five unit in each of the last two games in part because of the absence of Ennis, who was then nursing a hamstring injury.

The Rockets did not have much success in those two games with Anthony on the starting lineup. Against the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 26, Anthony’s first start of the season, the 10-time All-Star scored 24 points on 8-for-18 shooting from the field and played 34 minutes, albeit in a lopsided 133-113 loss at home. Anthony started again in the next game, but faltered mightily on offense, making just two of his 12 shots to finish with eight points along with four rebounds, two blocks, and a steal in 31 minutes during a 104-85 defeat at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center.

Although Anthony provides a steady scoring source for the Rockets, he’s been a great defensive liability so far this season. Opponents are scoring 116.5 points per 100 possessions when Anthony is on the floor. Ennis should be able to add stability to that end of the floor, as he has a much better defensive rating (106.5) than Anthony.

The Rockets’ matchup with Brooklyn is the first in a lengthy five-game road trip for Houston.