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Chuck Hayes Excelling In Increased Role, Faces Tough Test Tonight Against Kevin Love

Since returning from injury on Jan. 14, Houston Rockets forward Chuck Hayes has seen his minutes and productivity increase significantly. The former Kentucky product is averaging more minutes per game this season (22.8) than any other previous year, thanks in part to the 29.3 minutes per game he’s averaged in his past six games since returning to the lineup.

With Yao Ming’s tenuous injury situation, Hayes has been forced to defend players much taller than him, but he’s held his own for the most part. He’s also chipped in nearly 10 points per game, as well as just under double-digit rebounds in his past six outings. The Houston Chronicle has a nice piece on Hayes — his increased role and the importance of his contributions moving forward.

In the article, Hayes explained how he spends extra time in the film room to get an edge and help compensate for his lack of size:

“It’s more about, for me, watching film to see how other people guarded him, who did well and who didn’t,” Hayes said. “If I see … Kevin (Love) going middle and scoring, I’m going to send him baseline. The best shot for me is if I can make somebody take a fadeaway, a turnaround jumper. Nothing to the rim. I try my best to keep them out of the middle of the paint.”

Good stuff. Hayes and the Rockets have a winnable game tonight at Minnesota against Kevin Love and the Timberwolves. Stay tuned here for more updates during and after the game, and be sure to check out The Dream Shake for more Rockets’ analysis and fan discussion.

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