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Capela Comes Up Big When Rockets Need Him Most

Rockets center turns in a 24 point, 12 rebound game one performance

April 16, 2018 - 1:38 am

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- With 6:36 left in the first quarter of the Rockets 104-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night at Toyota Center, Karl-Anthony Towns released a hook shot from the right block. It didn't go through the rim, in fact, it never got close. Clint Capela's right hand swatted it away. In a battle between two of the best young centers in the league, Capela dominated.

"He came out ready to play," Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. "He played unbelievable. He played with a lot of energy. He played aggressive, and that's what we need from him."

Capela finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting while blocking three shots. On the other hand, Towns matched Capela with a dozen boards, but scored just eight on points on 3-of-9 shooting. Before he blocked Towns' hook shot, the Wolves tried to attack him on a couple of different isolations. They were unsuccesful on both, and Capela said that just built his confidence. 

"I feel great whenever I get up on guards or whenever I'm in the post. I just try to focus on what I have to do. I've been studying these guys, so I know what they're looking for, which way they're trying to go, so every single time I'm just trying to be ready and make their job harder."

Ariza and James Harden have been teammates of Capela ever since he joined the Rockets after being taken in the first round of the 2014 draft and Harden continues to be impressed by the Rockets young center.

"I've been here since Clint got here. He's developed, he listens, he works his butt off every single day, and it shows for big moments like that."

Even though only Harden has been with the Rockets longer, Capela is still the youngest member of the Rockets rotation, five years younger than the 28-year old Harden, who is closest to him in age among the nine Rockets that played Sunday, and Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni believes he's seen Capela grow up quite a bit in the two seasons he's coached him.

"He was sitting at the kids table at the wedding for a long time. Now, he's giving toasts and stuff like that. He's up with the guys and they're having confidence in him, so he's matured a lot, and especially in the eyes of the other players, just the confidence they have in him. I mean, he's terrific, he's really good.

Capela will be a restricted free agent whenever the Rockets season ends, and while Towns has certainly gotten top-billing when it comes to the center matchup in this series, D'Antoni believes Capela is about move into that same class.

"I think he's probably underrated, probably won't be this summer when he gets paid. Right now he is and people kind of sleep on him a little bit, but he's one of the best centers in the league."