New Rock bottom

The Rockets report, brought to you by APG&E: Rockets fall to Hornets in Charlotte 108-99

From start to finish, this was a bizarre game for the Rockets. For starters, they were severely shorthanded due to missing Eric Gordon (knee soreness) and Russell Westbrook, who took the game off due to it being the front end of a back-to-back. On top of that, Houston put themselves in a significant hole after failing to score for the first 7 minutes of the game, trailing 20-0.

There was a point where it seemed like the Rockets would finish the entire first quarter without registering a field goal, but Harden drove and kicked to Robert Covington for a catch-and-shoot three. Covington was actually pretty good tonight, tallying 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 steal on 9 of 16 shooting from the field and 7 of 13 shooting from three-point range. Unfortunately for Houston, it'll go down as a wasted effort on his part.

There's just been a malaise about this Rockets team that hasn't subsided since their loss to the Knicks. It's pretty inexcusable effort as their schedule to close out the season is relatively easy, but they've already thrown away two games against bad opponents in the Knicks and now the Hornets. This was a chance for Houston to capitalize and climb up the Western Conference standings for ideal playoff positioning and they're floundering at a time where they should be peaking.

Star of the game: James Harden logged 30 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 10 turnovers on 8 of 22 shooting (not the most flattering quadruple double). With the Rockets returning to Houston tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. to play the Magic, Harden logged a ridiculous 45 minutes tonight. If this was a standalone game, it might be understandable why Harden would have to play this much (Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook out), but it seems kind of shortsighted for Houston to allow this. Sure Harden's carried bigger loads before, but he's 31 and they have to start managing his minutes considering he's under contract for the next few years.

Honorable mention: This might've been Jeff Green's best game as a Rocket and his minutes were actually pretty impactful, all things considering. Green tallied 20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists, and 10 of 15 shooting from the field.

Key moment: The first 7 minutes of the game is the pretty obvious winner for key moment as the Rockets were never able to recover from the 20-0 deficit. It was the culmination of what has been a week of slow starts for the Rockets. The body language was bad, the passes were sloppy, and the defense was nonexistent. This is a persistent issue Houston has to correct if they want to have any chance at a top three seed to end the season.

Up next: The Rockets return to Houston at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday to play the Orlando Magic.

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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