Scottie Pippen didn't expect to feel comfortable immediately with the Houston Rockets' offense. But he didn't expect to be a virtual spectator 22 games into the season, either.
Pippen is getting more frustrated as his offensive production diminishes. The Rockets mostly pound the ball inside to Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon rather than run the ball, which Pippen prefers.
Pippen, who signed a five-year, $67.5 million contract in January, took only five shots and scored four points in 35 minutes Sunday during a 104-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
"I'm frustrated," Pippen said. "Playing the minutes I'm playing, I'm not involved in the offense. It makes the game not fun anymore. My next step is to find why this organization wanted me."
Pippen is averaging 40.6 minutes per game, fourth in the NBA, but he doesn't believe the Rockets are getting the most from his talents. Against the Suns, Barkley took 21 shots and Olajuwon 14.
"We have to get everybody involved," Pippen said. "We have to make the game fun for everybody. There are nights when things are not going right. It's time to go to somebody else and get somebody else involved.
Pippen had similar comments following Saturday night's 100-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers when he had only one point in the first half but ended up with 16 points and 10 assists. The Rockets might have lost without his second half spurt.
Against the Cavaliers, Pippen was 4-for-11 from the field and Olajuwon was 11-of-19. Pippen is averaging 15 points, 5.6 assists and 7.5 rebounds.
"It's been difficult for me," Pippen said. "It's going to be hard for me to find myself in this offense. They've built the offense around getting the ball in to Charles and Hakeem. For me to get shots, that's not going to happen often."
| Scottie Pippen has stumbled so far with the Rockets. (AP)|
Pippen was accustomed to the consistency of the Chicago Bulls, where he was the sidekick for Michael Jordan. The Bulls won six NBA championships in Pippen's 11 years with the team. Pippen is not a pivotal part of the Rockets' offense and some of his teammates are aware of that.
"We just have to do a better job of diversifying," Barkley said. "We've got to do a better job of getting ito Scottie and Michael Dickerson."
The Rockets have struggled to get all their all-star parts working together. They've beaten only two teams with winning records, but guard Brent Price has seen glimpses of what the complete offense can do.
"We've had moments where we clicked on all cylinders and that is exciting to see," Price said. "If we ever get into the flow, we can be dangerous. You don't just have a bunch of good individuals show up and be a good team. It takes time to learn each other and come together."
Pippen is awaiting more of those moments.
"If the opportunities are there, I try to take advantage of them," Pippen said. "I am more accustomed to getting some (chances) throughout the game to see where my rhythm is from an offensive standpoint. You have to be patient."
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