Rockets' Green, Smith Jr. explain what they've learned facing Suns before 2nd matchup in Phoenix

The NBA Western Conference's last-place Houston Rockets (5-16) are back in Phoenix for the second time in just over a month to play the first-place Suns (15-6) on Friday. Houston enters the game after losing two straight in Denver.

Before the Suns cruised to a 25-point win over Houston on Oct. 30, they explained how the Rockets are one of the league's dangerous, young teams led by their top scorer Jalen Green (21.3 points per game). In addition, last June's third overall draft pick Jabari Smith Jr. is their second-best at 7.0 rebounds per game and his 11.7-point average is currently fourth in this season's rookie class.

The Republic spoke to Green and Smith at their team's Friday pregame media availability on what they've learned about the Suns, and the Rockets' team and individual player development.

What Green and Rockets coach Stephen Silas meant after they recently said their team's "togetherness needs to be more cohesive."

Green: “It means pretty much everything on the court. Just talking, being there for each other, helping each other out, moving the ball, lock in on defense, things like that to get a win in a basketball game."

What Green and Smith Jr. have noticed about the Suns.

Green: “They got so much good chemistry. They execute their plays very well. Everyone (on the Suns) knows what they’re doing at the end of the night what they’re bringing to the table. I think that’s why they’re so good."

Smith Jr.: “Just how smart they are. You can tell they’ve been playing together for a long time and just that chemistry, their togetherness and how hard they play."

How Smith Jr. feels acclimated playing in the NBA after 20-plus games.

"I feel like I’m growing in the right direction. I feel like I’m learning and the game’s slowing down for me, so I feel like I’m feeling good."

Green's understanding of matching up against Devin Booker.

Green: “He’s shooting coming off the ball. Every play that’s ran for him, he’s coming off it, shooting it. So I think we just gotta lock into the plays at the end of the day, try to get the ball out of his hands, and try to defend the best we can."

Smith's biggest takeaway about facing Suns' top duo Booker and Deandre Ayton after Rockets faced them earlier this season.

“The first time I felt like I was still learning a lot. I feel like I’m a whole different player now. I feel like I know where my shots gonna come from more. I know how to guard more. I just know different things. I feel like I’m more prepared going into this game.”

Green, who was drafted out of the G League in 2021, offers advice to his rookie teammate and Phoenix native TyTy Washington Jr., who was assigned to G League in November.

Green: “I think he should just keep working. He’s really talented. He has a lot in his skill set. He’s a really good point guard. Obviously, I’ve seen him play when he was in practice and stuff. He’s very pass-first, and he can score at will, too. I think just have fun down there, take his time and his time will come soon.

Oct 30, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots the ball over Houston Rockets guard Jabari Smith Jr. (1) at Footprint Center.
Oct 30, 2022; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) shoots the ball over Houston Rockets guard Jabari Smith Jr. (1) at Footprint Center.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Rockets' Green, Smith Jr. on facing Suns before 2nd matchup in Phoenix