The Houston Rockets experienced a Murphy’s Law season in which everything that could go wrong virtually went wrong. This article we’ll take a step back and review some of the worst and most disastrous games played by the Texan team this year.
Let’s be honest: the Rockets had some ugly games this season. The undeserving year was somehow crowned by a spot in the post season as the 8th seed. Whenever the team had a chance of cementing a commanding spot in the Western Conference, the Rockets reverted to their lazy ways and gave up a few games.
That’s not all as the team couldn’t mount any respectable runs or win streaks throughout the year as the most consecutive victories Houston had this year was 5.
Further every decisive game and opponent that the Rockets faced coming to the end of the Regular Season they managed to lose.
Therefore this article intends to revisit and relive some of the most emblematic and catastrophic losses of the year, not only due to their final score but also general performance and overall game significance. Hopefully it will serve as a way to pinpoint the areas needing attention this summer.
So buckle up Red Nation it’s time to look back at some serious ugly stuff!
Next: Number 5: A Critical Loss to a Rival
Apr 6, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; The Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets fight for the loose ball during the second half at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeat the Rockets 88-86. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets 86 – 88 Dallas Mavericks – April 6th, 2016 @ American Airlines Center
This one’s gotta hurt.
The Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks faced each other with less than 5 games to end the Regular Season with a lot at stake:
The Rockets entered the contest leading the season series 2 games to 1. This was H-town’s opportunity of winning the tie-breaker against Dallas and consolidating themselves in the running for a spot in the postseason.
With Houston’s record at 38-39 and Mavericks’ at 39-38 this was the ideal scenario and a crucial game for the Rockets to overtake Dallas in the standings.
In addition the Mavs were missing Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams and with J.B. Bickerstaff promoting K.J. McDaniels to Houston’s starting lineup it seemed that Red Nation was in line for a hard fought win.
Instead… it was a back and forth battle that ended with a heart-breaking defeat…
The Rockets who had a thin 85-82 margin with 3 minutes to go in the fourth quarter they just couldn’t hold up their lead.
After some poor decisions and Wesley Matthews playing lock down defense on James Harden, the Mavs fueled by a great J.J. Barea exhibition got the lead and won the game as the Rockets were held to scoring just one point in the last 3 minutes of the game.
The Mavs celebrated as if they had won a title.
Next: Number 4: Scorched by: .... P.J. Tucker?
Apr 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) reacts after a play during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns 124 – 115 Houston Rockets – April 7th, 2016 @ Toyota Center
As if the Dallas Mavericks loss wasn’t enough, the Houston Rockets managed to lose once again the next night to the Phoenix Suns.
Although a defeat to the Suns is not usually a fiasco this one’s got to be one of the most devastating losses of the season. Not only by virtue of coming after the loss to the Mavericks but because the Suns were so amazingly shorthanded that prior to the game it was nearly unthinkable that Phoenix would be able to beat the Rockets away from home.
Meanwhile the Rockets with at full strength, but showed complete disdain to the defensive aspect of the game and simply decided to trade baskets with the fragile Phoenix Suns.
By the fourth quarter when the game got dangerously close after a few runs by the Suns, PJ Tucker who unexpectedly exploded for a career-high 24 points (to go with 12 rebounds) and Mirza Teletovic with 26 points manhandled the Rockets and mauled them to one of the most tragic defeats of the season that could’ve lead to an early season elimination.
Next: Number 3: The Heaviest Defeat of The Season.... To a Texan Rival
Jan 27, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots the ball over Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12, left) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets 99 – 130 San Antonio Spurs – January 27th, 2016 @ AT&T Center
To be fair some context is needed here: The Spurs had just suffered a 30 point demolition by the Golden State Warriors and were looking for revenge. The Rockets were just on the wrong side of a San Antonio Spurs side with wounded pride.
In general it was a fairly easy game for the Spurs who dominated from the get-go and already had a 20 point lead by halftime.
This game also made the headlines due to the very odd strategy employed by Gregg Popovich who hacked Clint Capela while he was out of bounds.
A humbling loss it at least provided the Houston Rockets and its coaching staff with much needed perspective regarding how far they were from being a contender this season.
Next: Number 2: A Season Sweep
Nov 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) defends as guard Randy Foye (4) dribbles the ball against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Nuggets 105 – 85 Houston Rockets – October 28th, 2015 @ Toyota Center
Houston Rockets 98 – 107 Denver Nuggets – November 13th, 2015 @ Pepsi Center
Houston Rockets 108 – 114 Denver Nuggets – December 14th, 2015 @ Pepsi Center
This one is a masterpiece.
Throughout the season the Rockets only lost three games to the following teams: The Spurs, the Warriors… and the juggernaut that is the Denver Nuggets.
It was so completely unbelievable that the Nuggets would sweep that it highlights how poor the 2015-2016 Houston Rockets season was.
And none of the three games were even competitive affairs. The Nuggets won fair and square without leaving any doubts.
By virtue of the Nuggets finishing the season with a 33-49 record and the Rockets making the playoffs Denver also got the Rockets first round Draft Pick as well as their own.
As for the Rockets, their recently acquired point guard (at that point) Ty Lawson went 4-for-22 from the field good for 18.8% throughout the series against his former team.
Next: Number 1: A Head Coach Casualty
Nov 16, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) dribbles against the Houston Rockets in the second half at Toyota Center. Celtics won 111 to 95. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics 111 – 95 Houston Rockets – November 16th, 2015 @ Toyota Center
And here we have it the defeat that led to Kevin McHale’s firing.
Dubbed by Rockets owner Leslie Alexander as one of the poorest and effortless exhibitions he’d ever seen:
"I’ve never seen my team play as poorly and with less effort. I’m not attributing it to the coach. I had to do something. – Leslie Alexander"
Truthfully the game really started to get out of hand in the last 4 minutes of the third quarter when the Boston Celtics went on a 15-0 run. The final quarter was so bad Leslie didn’t even bother to watch especially since it was obvious the team had no intention of competing.
To be completely fair, the Rockets loss to the Celtics should be seen as a validation of the Boston Celtics defensive prowess more than as Houston Rockets incapacity or lack of effort.
To wit, in that game the Boston Celtics completely subdued the Houston Rockets, outplaying them in every aspect of the game and it was very likely that the Celtics could’ve beaten anyone that particular day.
This defeat simply came at the wrong place and at the wrong time. The Rockets were coming off of 3 consecutive losses including two at Toyota Center and had to put an end to it.
True, McHale’s firing was unexpected at that point. Nevertheless for anyone that seriously follows the Houston Rockets it wasn’t by any means a surprise.
If you check out that game’s Recap, which was written by myself on that same day my feeling was that McHale’s job was hanging by a thread:
"Could McHale be on the hot seat?: Yes it’s still early in the season and it’s very possible that the Rockets could change the tide soon. Nevertheless, coach McHale seems lost. He can’t seem to understand how to change the team’s identity, his rotation minutes are all over the place […] The boos just keep increasing day-by-day and the team lacks any sense of urgency or reaction power. We all know McHale just recently signed a three year extension, yet, something must change and from the looks of the crowd at Toyota Center, something must change fast."
I just had no idea how fast that change was coming.
So there you have it. Do you agree with the selections? Be sure to hit the comments section and give us your list of Rockets worst exhibitions of the year!
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