The rollercoaster that is the ’15-16 Houston Rockets continued last night in Indianapolis as the Rockets fell to the Pacers. The loss to Indiana dropped them to 36-38 and 8th place in the suddenly weakened (overall) Western Conference. How the mighty west has fallen, the 8th seed is under .500, remember when we used to make fun of the East for this, remember the good old days? All the teams in the East playoff picture are over .500 right now. For reference, the Rockets finished 56-26 last season with largely the same team.
In what has become all too familiar for Houston fans, the Rockets fell behind by double digits because they didn’t realize they had to care and came back from behind only to “misfire” at the end because they realize they are paid to care. The Rockets shot abysmally from 3-point range last night and we all know/have been told over and over again that when this time doesn’t hit their jump shots that they struggle and that was abundantly clear in the loss. Houston shot 7 for 33 from three in this game and it was just as ugly as that sounds. Also, James Harden was once again the only player who really brought it on the offensive side and even he struggled from 3. However, as bad as that sounds it has really been the defense that has let this team down this season as they let Indiana score at will for the entire first half. The Pacers scored 57 points in the first half and Houston once again had to regroup in the locker room. Harden is bad defensively, however, at least he is a young superstar (26) and can drop 40 any night, what is the excuse for the rest of the team? I am not saying he should not play his part, however, the defensive struggles are as a team overall and Harden can only be blamed for so much.
FINAL: Pacers 104, Rockets 101. Missed threes, poor defensive rebounding the story. Harden 34p-8a-8r, but Rockets missed big opportunity.
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) March 28, 2016
Oh and you all know they had another players only meeting not too long ago right? I mean how many of those do you need before you realize you just don’t like each other?
— Anklesnap (@anklesnap) March 18, 2016
Despite everything, despite the “matador defense”, the Rockets had 3 separate attempts to tie the game and missed all three-point attempts. And that is the essence of what is so painful about this Rockets team.
Although to be completely fair to Indiana, the Pacers are a very good team in the East and defensively can play with the best of them so this story is more about the Rockets downfalls and less about the Pacers forcing the issue. Paul George has to be comeback player of the year and I would be excited for the future if I were a Pacers fan.
This experience, however, is not one of those fun roller coasters, the Rockets absolutely torment their own fan base and piss off the rest of the NBA in a whole other way at the same time. The problem with Houston lies at the foundation of what they have attempted to build. The foundation, however, is littered with cracks. The cracks were hidden to Rockets fans and to some in the NBA because Houston was winning. Winning cures all right? The Rockets won with a consistency that their franchise had not usually seen for Houstonians for the past 10 years. Houston rebuilt from the T-Mac/Yao era without having to suffer a losing season under Daryl Morey and people in Houston thought that was a miracle. Morey took over in 2007 and the Rockets records since then are as follows: (55-27), (53-29), (42-40), (43-39), (34-32), (45-37), (54-28), and (56-26). When you think of rebuild you are supposed to think of the abomination that is the 76ers rebuilding plan and not the Rockets.
Now you see the Rockets losing at a rate not seen in a while and because of that the real issues have cracked everything wide open. From players only meetings to Dwight trade rumors, we have seen a Rockets organization in an unusual place, uncertainty. The Warriors are what the Rockets were trying to create but they just did it better. Golden State put together a mix of drafted own young talent with veterans looking to win and then finally a coach that could mold it together. Another difference was that the Warriors actually put good shooters on their team, whereas the Rockets have a group of versatile players who CAN hit the three. Of course, the Rockets shooters are better than I just described but you get the point. Morey tried to put it all together through trade and continue the winning seasons but it just has not worked out, yet. I am not saying he cannot pull something else together this summer but the real question is who has seen this and has said they want to come into all this? The Rockets just spent a lot of time trying to deal away the guy they convinced to come to town just a few summers ago. In my mind, Dwight has already left the Rockets because he seems to want something that the Rockets just won’t give, money. At this point, Howard is not a max player so my commentary is only referring to his inevitable departure and not the idea that he is worth a max contract at this point in his career. Howard has been great with the Houston community but his play on the court has reached the point where he is replaceable and it would be smarter of the Rockets to spend that max money elsewhere.
This article is also a combination of frustration as an NBA fan and a Rockets fan so just watch Morey do something amazing and Howard returning to make this team a real contender next season for all I know.