Rockets hold off Jazz 104-93 to move to 2-0 on young season

SALT LAKE CITY – When the Rockets starters were together, they generally rolled with relative ease. Dwight Howard was too much to handle in the low post, especially early. James Harden was happy to work as a playmaker. Trevor Ariza poured in 3s for the second-consecutive game. When the Rockets got their starters back on the floor together early in the fourth quarter, they pushed the lead to 16 and then held on to beat the Jazz, 104-93, in EnergySolutions Arena. The Rockets problem, however, was that they just could not keep those often-dominant starters on the floor, which could be as much of a concern as the sweep of [...]

A cool start to deer season, but challenges linger

Patience and a light jacket promise to be a pair of useful items for Texas' 700,000-plus deer hunters to pack as they head afield for Saturday's statewide opening of the general hunting season for white-tailed deer. A late-week cool front is predicted to produce dawn temperatures in the high 40s or low 50s and daytime peaks in the 60s and 70s with calm, mostly clear skies over opening weekend - perfect conditions for the biggest hunting-related weekend of the year for most of the state's million-plus hunters and welcome relief from recent warm, muggy, windy conditions that depress deer movement and hunters' enthusiasm. In much of the state, an abundance of highly prized natural foods such as acorns and forbs is drawing the primary attention of hungry deer, meaning less traffic to the corn-spitting feeders on which many Texas hunters depend to attract deer. [...] while Texas' deer herd, the largest in the nation with as many as 4 million animals, remains almost supernaturally robust across most of the state, the effects the record-setting drought in 2011 had on the buck population could force hunters to take more time studying antlers before they take a shot. "The eastern part of the Edwards Plateau saw more rain than the western part, so overall body condition and antler development look better the farther east you go," said Rufus Stevens, Edwards Plateau district leader for TPWD's wildlife division. Most whitetail bucks don't grow antlers meeting the 13-inch inside spread requirement until they are past their third year, and buck harvest in "antler restriction" counties is usually dominated by 31/2-year-old deer. With 31/2-year-old bucks in short supply, hunters wanting to avoid taking up-and-coming 21/2-year-olds and allow those young bucks with above-average antler development to reach their potential and pass along their genes will have to carefully assess any buck they target.

Early season back-to-back does Rockets no favors

SALT LAKE CITY – As unwelcome as back-to-backs are at any point of the season, they can be especially tough early when teams need time to make corrections and go over game plans still new. The Rockets went from their opener in Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, arriving at the hotel at 3:30 a.m. The Jazz opened a back-to-back against the Rockets at home before flying to Dallas to face the Mavericks on Thursday. “We saw some film on things we want to correct from last night, but a lot of times it takes (being) on the floor,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “By April, I think the guys [...]

Rookies look the part in Rockets’ season opener

SALT LAKE CITY – For all the Rockets’ efforts to add veteran influence with the additions of Trevor Ariza and Jason Terry, they begin the season with two rookies in their rotation. Kostas Papanikolaou has played as the backup small forward and very briefly as a stretch four and Tarik Black has been Dwight Howard’s backup at center. Both looked like rookies in their first stint in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but seemed to settle down later in the game. Papanikolaou finished with six rebounds and four assists, making two second-half shots. Black improved defensively after an especially shaky beginning. “I thought some of the guys had some interesting stints [...]

Rockets like what they see when ‘active’ Terrence Jones is on the court

SALT LAKE CITY – Overshadowed by the angry on-court exchange between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, James Harden’s easy 32 points and the Rockets’ opening blowout of the Lakers, forward Terrence Jones offered the kind of high-energy performance that Kevin McHale said can transform more than his own play. “Terrence does that,” McHale said, “and we look like a different team.” Jones had 16 points with 13 rebounds and two blocked shots, but more than his consistent energy created opportunities around him. “He did a nice job,” McHale said. “He was on the boards. He was running. He was just doing a really nice job. We need that out of [...]

NBA commissioner taking proactive approach with future salary cap

SALT LAKE CITY – The NBA will not wait for the new television rights windfall to kick in or for the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations to begin to open talks with the NBA players’ association. Those talks, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday, have already begun. In an effort to avoid a massive spike in the NBA salary cap when the new $24 billion television rights begin with the 2016-17 season, Silver said that he has already discussed a concept with new NBPA executive director Michele Roberts on a plan to phase in the salary cap increases over several seasons. Silver had previously said he had planned to open [...]