Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rockets Boosted by Bench Support Cast Helped Houston Get on Course

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rockets Boosted by Bench Support Cast Helped Houston Get on Course

Article excerpt

Chucky Brown was on his way back to Yakima, Wash. Charles Jones was about to take a vacation.

But each received a phone call in February from the Houston Rockets, and look at them now. They've caught a ride to the National Basketball Association finals.

Along with Mario Elie and Sam Cassell, Brown and Jones have formed a closely-knit support group that has helped the Rockets turn their season around in the playoffs and make an improbable return to the NBA finals.

Brown gained national recognition when Charles Barkley asked, "Who's Chucky Brown?"

In February, no one knew Brown. He was about to resume his Continental Basketball Association career with the Yakima Sun Kings after being named to the CBA All-Star team when he learned his fate.

"I'd already packed my clothes and told my CBA coach I'd be back on a Friday," Brown said. "Last year, I made the mistake of hoping to get out. This year, I just didn't think about it. I just played and had fun."

But the phone call came this time, and Brown has made the most of his opportunity. He scored a career playoff high 15 points in Game 5 of the Rockets' comeback against Phoenix.

He played a key role in Game 4 against Utah in the first round with seven points and seven rebounds.

Barkley's prickly comment had no effect on Brown's playoff psyche.

"If I need him to motivate me, I don't need to play," Brown said. "My motivation is just playing and knowing where I've been and knowing what I've been through, and not wanting to go back through the same thing."

Jones played 11 seasons in the NBA for four teams, but he was released by Detroit last season. Now he finds himself backing up Hakeem Olajuwon instead of visiting his brother in Georgia.

The Rockets are back in the finals because they check their egos at the door, Jones said.

"It's the attitude of the team, the guys on the bench and the starters. Everyone gets along with each other," Jones said. "That's the starting point. There's no problem on the court about minutes. Whatever time we get that's fine, just do the job."

Jones, 38, doesn't have impressive stats. His value is the rest he gives Olajuwon. …

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