The Houston Rockets’ offense has been one of the best in the NBA this season. James Harden on the outside, Dwight Howard inside and a good combination of role players has worked well.
But not Wednesday night. Against the Suns the Rockets shot 35.2 percent as a team and 29 percent from three. It was the reason they lost.
That is two straight losses; the Rockets played poorly against the Jazz and fell on Monday night. Howard was frustrated with the effort of him and his team and vented about it, as reported by Fran Blinebury at NBA.com.
“[Expletive] effort out there on defense and on offense,” said Howard. “The ball stuck … We didn’t move it and we can’t win that way….
“It had nothing to do with us missing shots,” Howard said. “They just played harder than us…It had nothing to do with the offensive game. They just played hard. We know what we [have to] do. It’s gotta be important for guys to come out and play the same way every night.”
Technically, it is about missing shots, but we’ll let that slide. They also miss Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons who were out injured. Yet Howard is right about the Rockets seeming somewhat disinterested the past couple games.
Also, the ball did stick Wednesday, but part of that is Howard.
The Rockets worked hard to establish him early, getting Howard post touches. The problem is on the season while Howard gets 47.6 percent of his offensive opportunities on post ups he’s shooting just 38.1 percent on them (stats via Synergy Sports).
Then midway through the first quarter they ran a Harden/Howard pick and roll and got a bucket — this season just 8.3 percent of Howard’s attempts come as the roll man but he is shooting 72.7 percent when he does.
Usually Howard shoots a higher percentage than this season in the post, but those numbers are in line with his career trends. He’s a great roll man with his quickness, yet he prefers to play in the post. It hasn’t mattered much this season, but it’s something to watch as they continue to struggle.
Howard is right about effort — the Rockets need to get back to it to keep on winning. After that they can focus on ways to be more efficient. Like getting the ball back to Howard more on the pick-and-roll.