Rockets offense improving after two games

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HOUSTON -- After just two preseason games, the Rockets' uptempo offense is getting better.

It’s the same offense the Rockets used last season to win 56 games and advance to the Western Conference finals, but with the addition of a new point guard, Ty Lawson, and with a goal of pushing the pace faster than last season, adjustments are needed.

In the first preseason game, the Rockets received plenty of open looks against Memphis but shot a dismal 5-for-30 from 3-point range and 36 percent overall. The ball movement was just okay and resulted in 17 assists in the 92-89 loss.

Wednesday night against Dallas, the ball movement improved, despite coach Kevin McHale resting four starters. The Rockets made 12 of 37 3-pointers, shot 43 percent, produced 24 assists and cut down on the number of turnovers from 18 against the Grizzlies to 14 against the Mavericks.

James Harden and Patrick Beverley started in the backcourt and made sure to distribute the ball evenly. The pair combined for seven assists and 31 points against the Mavericks.

“That comes with playing with each other for a while, and we got 10 guys who came back who are used to each other,” Beverley said. “We’re really good when the ball pops, when the ball pops everybody can score and everything like that.”

McHale is mixing up his lineups. In the first preseason game, the Rockets had a three-guard alignment of Lawson, Beverley and Harden with bigs Dwight Howard and Clint Capela.

“Three ball handlers and two guys who are great in pick-and-roll,” Beverley said. “I can guard the one and the two, so I can play point guard. It’s been great, we play real well. The ball moves -- that’s the biggest thing is when the ball moves, we’re a dangerous team no matter who is out there.”

The Rockets finished second in the NBA pace last season to Golden State, yet the team would like more possessions to put the defense at a disadvantage. In their first two games, the Rockets attempted 179 shots, including 67 3-point attempts. Houston set an NBA record last season for 3-pointers in a single season, and with the way this team is going, that record could be taken down.

Chemistry is the key.

The Rockets have to make sure Harden jibes with Lawson and the pair are able to produce positive plays out of side pick-and-rolls and get clean jump shots when the ball is swung around the court.

“Our offense is good right now,” Corey Brewer said. “We’re moving the ball, we’re cutting hard, and when we do that, we’re going to get a lot of wide-open shots. We just got to make shots.”

McHale said the team isn’t running a lot of set plays yet. That will happen as the preseason goes on, but he is pleased with what he's seeing so far.

“You got to be really solid with the ball,” McHale said. “You can’t turn it over. You can’t make mistakes when you play out there. You just got to be really solid and impactful.”