Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets was not pleased with his team’s lack of effort and focus in their loss to the Utah Jazz in Game 2.
The Rockets big first half in Game 1 led to an easy 110-96 win. Although, in the second half of the first game, Houston let off of the gas just a bit. They relaxed on defense and they turned the ball over more than usual on offense. Mike D’Antoni called his team’s performance in that second half “careless,” but he said that they could play a lot better than that.
Unfortunately, his team didn’t back him up.
The Rockets did limit their turnovers in Game 2, but their defense was horrendous. When the Jazz weren’t driving into the paint for easy lay ins, they were draining wide open 3-pointers. Utah dropped 36 points in the first quarter and they led Houston for the majority of the game.
The Rockets haven’t been challenged much throughout the regular season or the playoffs, and it showed in their effort on Wednesday night. Mike D’Antoni said that his team was “lulled to sleep,” via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
“We can correct our energy and we can correct the necessary focus that we need to have. You get lulled into sleep. You think this stuff’s easy. It’s not easy. This is the NBA. This is the [conference] semifinals. We kind of got lulled into it, and we paid for it.”
The Jazz shot 51.8 percent from the field in Game 2. They also shot 15-for-32 from 3-point range. The Rockets did force Utah into 17 turnovers, but Houston’s poor shooting and the 3-point discrepancy was too much to overcome.
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After Houston eliminated Minnesota, some of the Rockets players talked about how they were proud of the accomplishment. Although, they were quick to say that they weren’t satisfied with a first-round victory because the goal is to win an NBA championship.
In these playoffs, the Rockets have repeatedly been too lackadaisical throughout many of their games. Houston has arguable the deepest roster in the league, but their inconsistency is disconcerting.
When Houston finally faces an elite team, whatever weaknesses they have will be exposed. In order to overcome those weaknesses and advance to the Finals, the Rockets will have to give a much better effort than what we saw in Game 2.