HOUSTON There was an experimental quality to the Houston Rockets' 96-82 win over the Detroit Pistons Saturday night.
Maybe it was because the boss, coach Kevin McHale, was out of the office; he was on leave tending to a personal matter. Maybe it was because they thought nobody was watching; a late-arriving crowd sported a lot of Texas A&M gear, evidence of priorities in these parts. Or maybe it was because they were playing the winless Detroit Pistons, and everybody beats the Detroit Pistons.
In any case, under the direction of Kelvin Sampson, James Harden played the point a little, rookie Terrence Jones played for the first time at all, and reserves Greg Smith, Toney Douglas and Marcus Morris all got a little more time than usual. Even Donatas Motiejunas and Daequan Cook got in.
"We played good, especially the second unit," Sampson said. "I think the second unit came in and really boosted us."
Morris had 12 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes at...