Rockets rookie TyTy Washington finding his voice, building confidence
As the Houston Rockets prepare to take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, they expect to again be without the services of Kevin Porter Jr. (toe) and Jalen Green (groin). According to the NBA’s injury report, both guards have been ruled out for the game.
Their absence will provide another opportunity for rookie point guard TyTy Washington to showcase his skills, as he is more than likely to be named a starter by Rockets head coach Stephen Silas. It will be Washington’s second career start after he was inserted into the lineup against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
“I was excited,” Washington after making his first start. “This morning (Friday) at shootaround, when I seen my name up with the starters, I was like, ‘Oh, wow.’ Everybody dreams about it (first NBA start), and I am happy to say that I accomplished that one dream.”
Washington finished the game with 15 points, four assists, and two steals in 34 minutes of action. The Rockets were +2 in those minutes, as compared to -17 in the 14 minutes that Washington was on the bench. Although he wasn’t responsible for all of the ball-handling duties, he was clearly an intricate part of getting his teammates involved and in the right spots on the floor.
“I just went out there and used my voice,” Washington said postgame. “Those two days we practiced before this game, Coach and the rest of the guys in the starting rotation were just encouraging me to use my voice. They are going to listen to me because I am the point guard. Going into the game, my biggest focus on the offensive end was just getting us out into transition, pushing the ball up the court, and just really being vocal.”
One aspect of Washington’s game that Silas wanted to see the rookie improve on is his confidence to take shots. In previous games, the coaching staff noticed that Washington was passing up open looks, which Silas did not want him to do.
“I want him to shoot the ball,” Silas said after Thursday’s practice. “I want him to be free to shoot it. I know he has not shot it as well as he wants to or expects to. He’s been pressing a little bit, and I told him not to press and shoot the basketball because he can really shoot; he’s not (really) 9-for-50. He can really shoot the basketball.”
A day later, Washington took that advice and attempted a season-high 12 shots. He hit five of those attempts, with three coming from beyond the 3-point arc. Those attempts will likely increase in Portland, as he gets more acclimated to playing with the starters.
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