Second-half benching an unexpected first for Rockets' Ty Lawson

HOUSTON -- In a surprise move, backup point guard Ty Lawson was benched in the second half of the Houston Rockets' 102-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Lawson officially played 2 minutes, 41 seconds in the first half and didn't attempt any shots. When Lawson entered the game at the start of the second quarter, the Rockets were down by four points, but Memphis pushed the lead to 36-26 and with 9:19 left and he was pulled and didn't play the rest of the game.

Asked if he ever has been benched in the second half, Lawson told ESPN.com: "Nope."

Asked if he planned to speak with interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff about playing time, Lawson replied, "Man, I'm just down for whatever [it takes] for the team to win. Whatever the coach thinks, whatever my role needs to be or anything like that, I'm down to do."

Lawson said it was hard to find a flow with the limited minutes, and Bickerstaff said he kept a tighter rotation in the second half because the starters were playing much better, though nine Rockets received minutes after intermission.

After Lawson was taken out, the Rockets went on a spurt, cutting into a double-digit deficit to grab a brief lead. A James Harden 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer had Houston within 56-53.

Yet Lawson didn't return as Bickerstaff stuck with starters Jason Terry and Harden, and backups Patrick Beverley and Marcus Thornton in the backcourt.

Still, one of the major additions of the Rockets' offseason not playing in the second half of a close game was surprising. In the past two games, Lawson has played a total of 20 minutes, taking one shot with two assists and four turnovers.

"Our first group came back in and did what we needed them to do and brought us back into the game," Bickerstaff said. "Again, it had nothing to do with Ty tonight. We need to get Ty to be Ty Lawson. Point blank. He is a helluva player, skilled, do all the things that we need him to do, he can push it, he can play it. We've got to give him the confidence and we've got to set him loose. He's got to do things obviously to help himself. In order for us to reach the level that we want to reach, he was brought in here to be the secondary playmaker next to James. We need that. We need him to make those plays."