It turns out Omer Asik can still be pretty valuable, after all. Asik had his best game since he was replaced in the starting lineup and asked for a trade, playing the entire fourth quarter and helping the Rockets turn a nine-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
Asik scored just two points, but had 10 rebounds in his 21 minutes. More important, however, he kept Zach Randolph in check, allowing him just two fourth-quarter free throws.
“After I came to the West, we played against them six times,” Asik said. “I know how he plays. I just tried to stop that. That’s it.”
Asked if he was surprised that Kevin McHale never returned to Howard down the stretch, Asik said he had not considered it.
“I don’t think about that,” Asik said. “I just play whenever I get minutes. I just try to play hard.”