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Daryl Morey says Rockets have made strategic changes on defense

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey says the Rockets have been focusing on shoring things up on the defensive end.

Heading into the season, the Houston Rockets faced questions about how they would fare on the defensive end of the court, as they parted ways with Jeff Bzdelik. Bzdelik was the defensive coordinator for the Rockets and the architect of the switch-heavy defense the Rockets employed.

The early results made it clear that the Rockets’ defense wasn’t the same as the 2018-19 season, in which the Rockets ranked 10th in points allowed, and especially not as good as the 2017-18 season, in which the Rockets ranked sixth in points allowed and sixth in defensive rating.

The Rockets allowed at least 110 points in 31 of their first 50 games, including 158 points to the Washington Wizards, drawing criticism from ESPN analyst Jay Williams.

Everyone talking about James Harden & his 59 pts this am.. why? My takeaway was .. how the hell did a team that could contend for a world championship give up 158 pts to the @WashWizards ? I mean.. the wizards.

— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) October 31, 2019

All in all, the Rockets allowed 114.5 points during that span, which certainly couldn’t continue if the Rockets wanted to be viewed as legitimate title contenders. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made a move at the trade deadline to acquire Robert Covington, who is known for his defense, as he previously made the All-Defensive team.

Morey says the Rockets have made strategic changes defensively

But it doesn’t stop there, as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is focusing on the defensive end of the floor, as Morey explained on SportsTalk 790’s The A-Team.

“I actually really like the defensive changes coach has made. It’s not a wholesale change but we wanted to make sure Covington was integrated. And now we know exactly how we’re going to play since the trade deadline.”

Covington became the Rockets’ rim protector, as he averaged 2.5 blocks per game in Houston, which would have been second-best in the league if maintained for the duration of the season. RoCo’s 35 total blocks also led the league in the 14 games in which he was in Houston.

Roco’s presence certainly helped improve things on the defensive end of the floor, as the Rockets were tied for the eight-best defensive rating in the league during those 14 games, although they allowed 114 points per game during that stretch.

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All in all, the Rockets finished the season with the 16th-best defensive rating, which explains why D’Antoni has been keying in on that end of the floor. But the good thing is that they’ve been focusing on getting Covington integrated more, because his presence spells doom for opponents.

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