<
>

Rockets slot Ty Lawson into lineup for injured Patrick Beverley

HOUSTON -- Houston Rockets guard Ty Lawson will return to the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons.

Lawson starts in place of Patrick Beverley, who will sit out with a sprained left ankle.

As general manager Daryl Morey's major offseason acquisition, Lawson opened the season as the starter but lost the job to Beverley. He has struggled most of the season and hasn't started since Nov. 16, which was the last game before coach Kevin McHale was fired on Nov. 18.

"Just see if we can put a little boot in there and give Ty an opportunity to play extended minutes," interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "See if that helps him, see what the dynamic looks like now with he and James (Harden) on the floor together a little bit more. I think there's a little bit more comfort."

Lawson was acquired primarily to bring the Rockets another playmaker in the backcourt and take pressure off Harden, the team's leading scorer. So far it hasn't happened.

When Bickerstaff took over for McHale, he went with Jason Terry over Lawson as the starter and later moved Beverley into the starting lineup.

Of late, Bickerstaff has seen enough of Lawson to give him another chance at being a starter, but it's likely to be temporary. Bickerstaff said Beverley will return as the starter when he's healthy.

Lawson has averaged just 5.0 points per game in his last six, and overall this season he's averaging just 6.3 points in 24.3 minutes played.

He was suspended twice this season because of two DWI arrests last year, and he missed one game with a sprained left ankle. He also sat out because of a coach's decision on Nov. 29 at New York.

"As we've gone along, I think (Harden and Lawson) had moments where they have played well together," Bickerstaff said. "But they just haven't had the opportunity to have long minutes together.

"I think now, with Pat being out, it gives us an opportunity to give them extended minutes with them two on the floor. Hopefully we can get what we expected from him in the beginning (of the season) now that there's more of a comfort level with the two of them. There are two dynamic guys on the floor now."