How the NBA’s last hiatus set the stage for the Rockets’ future

Houston Rockets Kyle Lowry Kevin Martin (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Kyle Lowry Kevin Martin (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

With the NBA on an unspecified hiatus, let’s take a look at how the last hiatus helped solidify the Houston Rockets’ future.

With a shortened season appearing inevitable, now’s the perfect opportunity to re-examine how the Houston Rockets fared during the NBA’s last hiatus, which took place during the 2011-12 season. This, of course, is when the lockout took place, as the owners and the players weren’t able to agree to terms at the onset of the season, which pushed the Rockets’ first game back to December 26th.

The season was quite different, as the Rockets had spurts in which they played four games in six days on multiple occasions, and even had a back-to-back-to-back sequence of events early in the season. Although the Rockets went 2-1 during those three consecutive games, the demands of the shortened season was certainly taxing on the players’ bodies.

This isn’t necessarily surprising, as the NBA was forced to squeeze 66 games into a span of four months, as compared to the normal 82 games into a little less than six months. That particular season was before the James Harden era and after Tracy McGrady/Yao Ming were no longer donning a Rockets uniform, which meant the Rockets didn’t have a star player. Granted, the Rockets had Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry, who both became All-Stars later in their careers, but the Rockets had each player well before that.

What also complicated matters was the fact that the Rockets had decided to part ways with former coach Rick Adelman that season to bring in Kevin McHale, which isn’t exactly the best way to start the season as a new coach. For as many obstacles as the Rockets faced during that season, they found themselves in the middle of the playoff race with nine games to go, as they were 32-25 at the time.

The Rockets were coming off a four-game winning streak and appeared primed and ready to make a run in the postseason, as they had seven double-digit scorers, and relied on Kevin Martin and Luis Scola as their leading scorers. Unfortunately the Rockets lost six consecutive games down the stretch, and seven of their final nine, which prevented them from making the playoffs, and gave them a record of 34-32.

Although this certainly wasn’t the goal, this was an over-achievement in the eyes of many, as the Rockets didn’t have a star player and were also in the first year of McHale’s regime. The Rockets finished ninth scoring that season, as they averaged 98.1 points per game, and also finished ninth in 3-point shooting, as they made 35.9 percent of their triples.

The Rockets didn’t even have a 20-point scorer that season, which changed in the offseason when general manager Daryl Morey went and acquired James Harden, which took the franchise to new heights. The Rockets also parted with Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Chase Budinger, and Courtney Lee, which represented each of the Rockets’ top-six scorers from the 2011-12 season.

The Rockets added Harden, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, Carlos Delfino, Terrence Jones, and Donatas Motiejunas, which was quite an overhaul. This doesn’t even include Francisco Garcia and Thomas Robinson, who were both acquired at the trade deadline.

Next. Will Tilman Fertitta ever get the big picture?

It was clear that the Houston Rockets had identified their star in Harden, and were trying to surround him with the necessary supporting cast, which moved the franchise forward. Unsurprisingly, the lockout-shortened season proved to be the last time the Rockets missed the playoffs.