Bickerstaff happy to be with Grizzlies
As Memphis assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff made his way around Toyota Center on Friday for his first game in Houston since his season as interim coach, he was stopped for well wishes by everyone from security to the top levels of Rockets management.
Bickerstaff, 37, had been a Rockets assistant for three seasons when he was made the interim coach 11 games into last season, going 37-34 before a first-round playoff exit.
He would like to be a head coach again, saying as trying as last season was, there were lessons that can help.
“Last year taught me a lot,” Bickerstaff said. “Going to a new environment with a new staff taught me even more. The next time it becomes available, I think I’ll be better prepared.”
Bickerstaff was made the lead assistant on David Fizdale’s staff with the Grizzlies, just as former Memphis assistant Jeff Bzdelik moved to that position with Mike D’Antoni‘s Rockets.
“It’s fun,” Bickerstaff said. “We have a great coaching staff. We have great guys on the team. The locker room is great. It’s a positive environment, so it’s fun to be a part of. It’s fun to be working.
“All of our experiences influence our next decision. The same thing you look for in a team you look for in a staff, to work with people who are like-minded, approach the job the same way, guys you want to be around as much as we are. With the team, from the outside I always had a ton of respect for the way they played, the way they approached the game. And it’s a really good roster with a good opportunity to win.”
Gordon playing through pain
Rockets guard Eric Gordon returned to the floor Friday against the Grizzlies after missing two games with a sprained left big toe, but said he has to play through the pain.
“I just started running a little bit for the first time (Thursday),” said Gordon, who was 4-for-11, including three 3-pointers for 13 points in 31 minutes. “It’s still painful a little bit. You got to play with some kind of pain. You have to deal with it. You just have to try to find ways to push through it.”
Gordon said the pain increased during Sunday’s game in Toronto when he made 1 of 9 3-pointers and worsened in the following days.
Parsons chafes under limits
After three seasons ended or shortened by knee injuries, former Rockets forward Chandler Parsons returned to Toyota Center 20 pounds lighter than when he played in Dallas and working his way back from the bone bruise that stalled his first season with the Grizzlies.
“They’re taking it obviously really slow,” Parsons, 28, said. “It was frustrating in the beginning playing 12 to 15 minutes. It’s brutal. Now, I’m up to 18. Still no backto-backs. I think their plan is to keep going up a couple minutes every two or three games just based on how I’m feeling.
“The last three games I’ve been feeling much better, less soreness, finding more of a rhythm playing longer stints, instead of doing four (minutes) in, four out. Playing seven- to nine-minute stretches I’m able to get in a little better grove there, get in a rhythm, get my legs back and definitely try to build off the next three.”
Parsons’ two seasons with the Mavericks were ended by surgeries to his right knee.
He went out early this season with an injury to his left knee. Since returning, he said he has been better about not trying to force things because of the limitations on his playing time.
“It’s not fun being hurt,” he said. “It’s not fun having a minute restriction, doing hours and hours of rehab every day.”
Rockets guard Eric Gordon missed two games with a toe injury.