The Good, the bad, and the unlucky of the Houston Rockets’ past 13 games

N.B. Lindberg
Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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The Bad

The Rockets’ offense has dropped off over the past 13 games, going from an offensive rating of 110.9 to 109.2, but it’s their defense that has really taken a hit. Over their first 27 games, they posted a defensive rating of 116.2. Over the past 13 games, it has ballooned to 119.6. The reason why is relatively simple, they’re forcing far fewer turnovers and sending their opponents to the free-throw line more often. 

The Rockets have forced turnovers on 10.7% of their possessions over this run, a significant drop off from the 12.8% they were forcing before. While that figure would be the lowest in the league over the course of the season, the team with the lowest defensive turnover percentage is the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the league’s third-best defensive rating. 

Forcing turnovers is always good, but it isn’t a silver bullet on defense. The Rockets’ drop-off in preventing teams from beating them at the line has hurt them the most. Over this 13-game run, the Rockets’ opponent free throw to field goal attempt (FT/FGA) ratio of .228 is a massive jump from the .201 they posted before. The Cavaliers’ .201 FT/FGA is the seventh-best mark in the league, while a .228 FT/FGA would rank 27th. 

The good news is that opponents’ effective field goal percentage has essentially stayed the same, and their defensive rebounding percentage has improved from 75% to 77.3%. If the Rockets can get back to their previous levels at preventing points at the line, even if the turnovers stay low, they should actually see their defense improve. 

Next: The Unlucky