After the Houston Rockets dropped their fourth consecutive game in a loss to the Blazers, Mike D’Antoni is left searching for answers.
We all knew that getting Carmelo Anthony and the other new players acclimated to the Rockets way of doing things would take some time, but no one expected this.
The Houston Rockets have started the season 1-5, tied with the Phoenix Suns for the worst record in the Western Conference. They’ve lost four games in a row, with three losses in a row by 11 points or more.
It’s hard to believe that this is largely the same team that won a franchise record 65 games last year. Yes, James Harden has missed a little over two games with a hamstring injury. Yes, Chris Paul served a two game suspension. However, last season Harden missed 10 games and Paul missed 24, but the Rockets never looked anywhere near this bad.
We got a glimpse of what was to come in the season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. Nikola Mirotic grabbed 7 offensive rebounds, which nearly equaled Houston’s 8 offensive boards. Anthony Davis finished with 32 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists. Julius Randle dropped 25 points off the bench in his first game in a Pelicans uniform. Elfrid Payton finished with a triple double in his first game with New Orleans. The Pelicans scored 76 points in the paint. They did what they wanted, whenever they wanted against an indifferent Houston defense.
It seems like every game has followed a similar story line for the Rockets.
After losing 104-85 to the Blazers, Mike D’Antoni doesn’t have a lot of answers for Houston’s terrible start. He says the team has simply lost its swagger, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
“Right now, we’re playing like crap. We’re just not playing well. You know, I don’t have a whole lot of answers for you now. We’ll look, and we’ll fight it.
“We’ve lost our swagger and we’re on our heels.”
The start of this season is eerily similar to that of the 2015-16 season. The Rockets had fought all the way to the Western Conference Finals and lost, to the Golden State Warriors, just a year earlier. Houston got off to a rough 4-7 start after having high expectations coming into the season, which led to the dismissal of head coach Kevin McHale.
Although, firing McHale didn’t turn the everything around. Houston finished the season 41-41 as the eighth seed. They eventually lost to that same Golden State Warriors team, but this time in the first round instead of the Conference Finals.
This current Rockets team is better than that 2015-16 Rockets team, at least on paper. This veteran group should be able to turn things around.
Yes, getting back the reigning MVP will help, as will the return of James Ennis. But even with Harden in the lineup, Houston is just 1-3 and has looked downright awful at times. More than anything else, Houston needs to regain their swagger like Mike D’Antoni said. The effort isn’t there and neither is the confidence, and they’ll continue to struggle until they regain those things, no matter who is on the floor.