The Houston Rockets faced state rivals Mavericks in Dallas for their first preseason game yesterday. The Rockets walked away with the win after three successful free-throws made by rookie Kostas Papanikolaou.
A lot has been said about the two teams this summer, especially after the dramatic transfers of Chandler Parsons from Houston to Dallas and Jason Terry who took the opposite route.
However, it was the Greek rookie that made a more notable presence by firing up in the fourth quarter and helped the Rockets beat their disliked neighbors with three free throws at .2 seconds left for the game.
Showing excessive courage for a rookie, “Big Papa” owned the last attack and while the score saw both teams at 108, jumped up for a beyond-the-arc shot only to be fouled by Jae Crowder.
Patience is a virtue and Papanikolaou lacks none of it, so in remembrance of the Euroleague finals, twice in a row with Olympiacos, the Greek calmly made all three free-throws, taking home his first thumbs up performance for the season.
Even though his start was rusty, in the end Papanikolaou scored 12 points and 6 rebounds in 26 minutes.
The game itself was a travesty with 81 (!!) fouls committed in an almost three hour game. Donatas Motejiunas lead the scoring for the Rockets with 17 points followed by James Harden (12) and Trevor Ariza (11).
On the Dallas side, Chandler Parsons scored 14, with Monta Ellis and Charlie Villanueva at 13.
Both sides will meet again on October 9th at the Toyota Center in Houston.