Dwight Howard dropped into the low blocks and waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually the ball found him as it has reliably through the preseason’s first four games. But the portions of the Rockets’ offense built around him never looked right. Passes have come his way but often too late. Some were on time but missed their target.

None of this was considered to be much of a concern after the Rockets finished off the Orlando Magic 108-104 at Toyota Center with Howard and James Harden playing just a half and Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons not playing at all.

But Rockets coach Kevin McHale did not need to see Wednesday night’s game to know what would be on Thursday’s practice agenda.

“We’ll start tomorrow” McHale said before he added 18 minutes of video of the Rockets’ struggling to smoothly run the post offense.

“We got to work out some stuff” he said after Howard made two of six shots for eight points. “They fronted and we did a very poor job of getting the ball into him. I’m sure he’ll be fronted a lot during the year so we have to look at that. We have to improve our angles on the pass.

“We have to move a little bit more try to get him off of some action. Sometimes we came down and just kind of stood there and pump pump pump pump just looked at him. By that time the whole defense just sagged on him.”

A learning curve

When it came to doing the things the Rockets did before they had Howard – Harden scoring Patrick Beverley defending everyone running – the team looked a lot like last season’s squad. When it came to getting the ball to Howard in position to do damage they remained a work in progress with a long way to go.

“I just think guys got to learn when and where to pass” said Howard who was weighed down by jet lag and sleep deprivation more than the Magic big men who kept him surrounded. “It’s not something that comes easily especially in the post because guys are always playing different ways. We just got to work off the defense. We’re learning. It takes a while. We have two weeks before the season starts so we should be fine.”

While the Rockets enjoy touting their history of big men their players can describe long hours spent building those post offenses with Rudy Tomjanovich incredibly particular about the spacing and Hakeem Olajuwon even clearer about when and where he wanted the ball.

Howard the Rockets have learned gets his work done early sealing his defender before the swarms can surround him. But that requires that the ball find him on time. Increasingly he has had to get position inside and then battle to keep it.