Coming off a tough game in Memphis in which five Rockets played over 32 minutes each, Houston was a team with little to no energy and it showed. The back-to-back doesn't excuse Houston's lack of energy and that's what will come to bite Houston at the end of the season when they're trying to make a push for a top seed.
The effort defensively was non-existent (114.1 defensive rating) as their lack of rotations led to open shot after open shot and gave the Trail Blazers enough breathing room to stay in the game. James Harden's lack of effort in particular, stood out. Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Ben McLemore, and Clint Capela all took more field goal attempts than Harden tonight. In his defense, the Trail Blazers did a fair bit of trapping tonight and he played 39 minutes the night before. However, the Rockets were counting on Harden to lead them in the fourth quarter when Westbrook opened up the window and he played passively.
After the game, Mike D'Antoni took several minutes longer than usual before speaking to the media and it turned out it was because the Rockets held a post-game meeting with the team discussing a lot of their issues.
James Harden said the Rockets had a chat post-game to get some things "off their chest". https://t.co/jceBOsn9po— Salman Ali (@Salman Ali) 1579153007.0
"Just playing hard," said Westbrook when asked what's been lacking with the Rockets. "Xs and Os don't really matter. Just playing consistently on a night-in and night-out basis."
Mike D'Antoni: "A lot of guys have issues that they're fighting through.... Clint's trying to get through his foot,… https://t.co/khVvrkJGMj— Salman Ali (@Salman Ali) 1579152484.0
This is a make or break moment for the Rockets. As D'Antoni said post-game, the team is in a rough spot (lost 3 out of their last 4 games) and there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved before Houston can truly hit their ceiling.
Star of the game: Russell Westbrook was the only reason the Rockets were even in the game in the fourth quarter. Westbrook had one of his best games of the season, logging 31 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds, and 1 steal on 11 of 22 shooting from the field and 2 of 5 shooting from three-point range.
Honorable mention: Clint Capela might still be dealing with right heel soreness, but that hasn't stopped him from putting up awesome numbers these past few games. Capela logged 14 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal on 7 of 14 shooting from the field. Against Hassan Whiteside, Mike D'Antoni had no choice but to play Capela a lot (36 minutes) and despite the loss, Capela took advantage of the opportunity.
Key moment:The bottom fell out for the Rockets in the second quarter where the Trail Blazers outscored them 32 to 21. Houston shot 3 of 14 from three-point range and missed on several good looks. On the other side, Portland shot 3 of 6 from three-point range and a returning Carmelo Anthony scored 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting from the field. C.J. McCollum had 8 points of his own on 3 of 6 shooting from the field. The Rockets were feisty in the fourth quarter, but were never able to fully recover from this quarter.
Up next: The Rockets play the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:30 p.m. in Houston on Saturday.
Rockets' Alperen Sengun recently was a guest on Paul George's podcast and spoke about a conversation he had with James Harden.
He said Harden told him he was proud of him. This led George to saying he thinks this means the torch has been passed from Harden to Sengun.
Which made us wonder, is this now Sengun's team? Or is that a little premature and the true leader of the team is head coach Ime Udoka or Fred VanVleet?
Plus, Jalen Green has responded positively from being benched. Is this proof that Ime Udoka has the team taking more accountability and heading in the right direction?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
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