Monday, January 23, 2017

Houston Rockets: The new Kings of poor-timing.

Consider this:  The Houston Rockets current slump is like missing a game-winning 3-point shot as time expires. Just as the Rockets had gotten the Texans out of the way (via a blowout loss to the  Tom-Brady led New England Patriots) the Rockets had a Nationally televised game against the Golden State Warriors, and they stunk up the joint hitting only 7 of 35 3-point shots (on which their offense is reliant) and getting blown out by the Warriors 125-108 at home.

Were the Rockets the Texans this would be no problem. Despite getting boat-raced by the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots (QB: Jacoby Brisset with an injured throwing hand) 27-0 Houston still tuned in, and inexplicably showed up to support the team week after week. And while the Texans did manage to make the playoffs there was never any serious doubt what the result in New England would be.

So, football season over, Houston Rockets front and center playing an entertaining brand of basketball and winning for the most part to boot. In fact, the team is currently sitting in 3rd place in the Western Conference with a .723 winning percentage (34-13) and, at this point, looks to be likely to get a home series in the playoffs.

And then they laid an egg.  Talk about having horrendous timing.

Yes, they bounced back against Memphis but the damage had already been done. Because unlike in football Houston sports fans only seem to give other Houston teams one chance per season to become invested.  Sure, there will be some bandwagon jumping if the eventual playoff run comes but I'm talking about truly invested, in a similar manner the city is inexplicably invested in the chronically mediocre Texans.

It's too bad, because this Rockets team is FUN to watch play basketball.  James Harden (of whom I've been a critic) has let his actions back up his rhetoric this year and is playing, and acting, like a legitimate star/leader type of player, not just the instant offense guy from the past who I thought found his best role as 6th man with the Thunder. Harden is distributing the ball, taking control of the team and, on several occasions, playing defense.  The rest of the team is really a bunch of role-players who play those roles well.  They are a deep team that plays fasts, rotates in frequently, and is more concerned with out-scoring you than they are stopping you.  For long-time Mark Dantonio Mike D'Antoni* followers this will not come as too much of a surprise.

The problem with this approach is when the other team does stop you, as happened against the Warriors. Then the Rockets are basically bringing their knife of a defense to a gunfight, and the results are messy.

What Houston sports fans tuned into Friday night was ugly, and unfortunate, because until the Astros start playing the Rockets are the best game in town.

It's just too bad that the Texans dominate Houston's sports room.





*Thanks to Mike Morrison Twitter user: @mike_morrison66 for pointing out my brain fart confusing Mark Dantonio with Mike D'Antoni.

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