Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni plans to play 2 bigs vs. Lakers, give PJ Tucker around 30 minutes
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni plans to switch it up against the Los Angeles Lakers, going with two big men to match up against their dominant size, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The coach also plans to give the team’s usual starting power forward, PJ Tucker, around 30 minutes per game from here on out, hoping he will save some legs for the postseason.
D’Antoni is likely to pair Clint Capela with Isaiah Hartenstein, a 7-foot stretch big who can block a few shots and put a body on the likes of JaVale McGee while Capela throws down with Anthony Davis, who has yet to be cleared for action after missing the last four games with a tailbone injury.
Even if Davis doesn’t suit up, D’Antoni will need a second big to counter Dwight Howard, who has been a monster off the bench and a huge part of the Lakers’ second-unit success.
Tucker played 37.7 minutes per game in December, but he has been thoroughly burned out lately. He notched a mere 14 points over the last seven games — an average of two points per game since Dec. 31.
The 6-foot-6 Rockets forward has been worn down by playing at power forward on a full-time basis — a position he’s capable of playing but far from his natural one as a perimeter hound.
D’Antoni is hoping that preserving Tucker’s legs will lend for better performances in the playoffs, having burned through his veteran 3-and-D ace through the first half of the 2019-20 season.