After a difficult summer at the EuroBasket with the Israeli national team, Omri Casspi is starting to get used to life with his new NBA team. If one can learn anything from the first preseason game, this might be a good year for Casspi. On Saturday night, facing New Orleans, Houston lost 116-115, but Casspi was one of the better players, and might be a significant part of coach Kevin McHale's rotation at the Rockets.
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While all eyes were on Dwight Howard, also debuting for Houston (19 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes), and James Harden scored 21, it was Casspi who kept the Rockets in the game in the last quarter, scoring 16 of his 20 points. His stats were impressive: 9-for-10 from the field, (2-for-3 beyond the arc), two rebounds, one block and one turnover in 21 minutes. “Omri was making shots and he was playing,” McHale said. “He really knows how to get open, does a lot of good stuff for us. Gotta get him up to speed on what we’re doing defensively and get him in better helping-out positions and things. But I thought overall that he played well offensively for us. He gave us a spark. We had a unit out there that didn’t have many scorers on it, so Omri had to score a little bit.”
“Big. Big,” Harden said of his new teammate. “He was very impressive. I think he missed one shot, knocking down threes, getting to the basket, blocking shots, helping his teammates out. He did a great job tonight.”
This is Casspi's fifth season in the NBA after stints with Cleveland and Sacramento.