The Rockets lost their second straight game on Sunday which typically wouldn’t be cause for alarm. In a long 82 game season teams are going to lose. They’re even going to lose twice in a row. The way the Rockets have lost those two games early in the season, however, has sent up a few warning flags.
Houston played the Heat, in Miami, on Sunday and got demolished in a 129-100 blowout. This also wasn’t one of those contests where the game just kind of got away from them. No, the Heat jumped out to a 20 point lead six minutes into the first quarter and then spent the rest of the evening cruising to an easy win. This could have been listed as just one of those games, but Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni feels that there are deeper problems.
Mike D’Antoni frustrated in post game presser. Acknowledges the team isn’t in trouble at 3-3, but he’s not pleased with the effort at all. “We were soft.”
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) November 4, 2019
This was Houston’s second straight loss and they didn’t look particularly good in either of them. The defense has been a mess the entirety of the season, with Austin Rivers calling it out publicly following Houston’s loss to the Nets in Brooklyn.
“We’re not playing any defense,” Rivers said. “Guys are scoring, getting whatever they want.”
With that in the rearview the Heat game was not the bounce-back the Rockets were looking for defensively. They came into the contest with the NBA’s second worst defense and it showed. Houston has been known to start their seasons slow on the defensive end, but even for them this is too much. They just gave up 158 points to the Wizards in a win on Wednesday. In regulation. The only team allowing more points right now is the Warriors.
D'Antoni: "We're not in trouble, but if we think we're not in trouble, we're in trouble." Said Rockets need "appropriate fear." The word "soft" in there, too.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 4, 2019
It’s still a long season and the Rockets have plenty of time to make up for their slow start defensively, but this is an area that will need a quick turnaround. Their defense is holding back what right now is a pretty incredible offense. You could argue that some of this is new faces like Russell Westbrook getting used to each other, but the bigger problem is the effort. In the Rockets’ loss to the Heat they simply didn’t seem to try as hard. That’s a problem in November.