Bick­er­staff happy to be with Griz­zlies

Houston Chronicle - - PRO BASKETBALL - Jonathan Feigen

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.

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