Fer­titta’s first act as owner: En­joy the an­nual Fan Fest

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - PRO BASKETBALL -

Til­man Fer­titta spent a part of his first full day as Rock­ets owner at Toy­ota Cen­ter be­ing what he has al­ways been — a fan.

Fer­titta took in the an­nual Fan Fest and open scrim­mage, get­ting an­other re­minder of how his life had changed Fri­day when the trans­fer of the Rock­ets’ own­er­ship was ap­proved and he closed the deal to pur­chase the team from Les­lie Alexan­der.

“It just feels dif­fer­ent, even since I signed the con­tract,” Fer­titta said Satur­day. “And I’ve had full ac­cess with Les since he’s owned the team and be­fore that with Char­lie Thomas back in ’84-85. But there is a def­i­nite dif­fer­ent feel­ing to­day than any other day.

“I just wanted to stop by Fan Fest for a few min­utes and see how ev­ery­thing is go­ing and just show the City of Hous­ton, gosh, I love be­ing a part of this. There’s noth­ing with­out our fans. We don’t have any fans, we all have an is­sue.”

Though it had been a cer­tainty he would be ap­proved and that he would close the $2.2 bil­lion deal Fri­day, Fer­titta de­scribed the start of his ten­ure as Rock­ets owner as a part­ner­ship with Hous­ton.

“It felt great,” he said. “It was def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent feel­ing this morn­ing. It’s a great day and it feels good. Ev­ery­thing is a re­la­tion­ship, in busi­ness and ev­ery­thing. This is a great re­la­tion­ship that I hope the City of Hous­ton is as happy as I am. They’re my part­ner, and I’m their part­ner.

“I’ve been around a long time. I’m see­ing (se­cu­rity) guys that ush­ered me around (in Paul Ne­veaux) that ush­ered me around when I was a mi­nor­ity part­ner back in the ’80s. To­day is def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent day, this Satur­day morn­ing.”

An­der­son likely to re­turn Sun­day

The Rock­ets hope to have Ryan An­der­son back from a bruised hip Sun­day, in time to play in the fi­nal three pre­sea­son games. Cen­ter Tarik Black, who was held out with sore­ness in his left knee, was away Satur­day fol­low­ing the birth of his child Fri­day.

The Rock­ets’ starters won Satur­day’s Fan Fest open scrim­mage when James Har­den hit a one-legged 30-footer at the buzzer, over­com­ing a late rush from Troy Wil­liams who had hit a 3 and fin­ished a put-back dunk.

The scrim­mage was, as is cus­tom­ary, more of an ap­pear­ance than a game, but most of the reg­u­lars played.

“It’s an op­por­tu­nity for the kids and every­body, the Rock­ets fans to see a pre­view of us be­fore we play,” Har­den said. “The sup­port since I’ve been here has been un­be­liev­able.”

Gor­don siz­zling in pre­sea­son

Rock­ets guard Eric Gor­don was greeted with “Sixth Man of the Year” at the team’s an­nual Fan Fest on Satur­day. He could have an­swered to an­other de­scrip­tion, as the Rock­ets’ top scorer of the pre­sea­son’s first two games.

Gor­don has av­er­aged 19 points per game on 60 per­cent shoot­ing, split­ting most of his play­ing time as shoot­ing guard with ei­ther James Har­den or Chris Paul at the point. Gor­don has been check­ing in for Paul mid­way through the first and third quar­ters, stay­ing in the game when Paul re­turns with about two min­utes left in each quar­ter.

“It just cre­ates … eas­ier looks for me as they are on the floor,” Gor­don said. “As long as every­body is knock­ing down shots, it’s go­ing to be eas­ier for ev­ery­one. When Chris and James play-make and us knock­ing down shots, it’s go­ing to be a nice flow through­out the whole game.”

Paul has grown so ac­cus­tomed to look­ing for Gor­don, he called a play for him in the scrim­mage.

“We’re not used to call­ing plays,” Gor­don said. “He’s still ad­just­ing, but he’s catch­ing on quick.”

Jonathan Feigen

Yi-Chin Lee / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Rock­ets point guard Chris Paul, right, goes one-on-one with a young fan dur­ing the team’s an­nual Fan Fest at Toy­ota Cen­ter on Satur­day.

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