On the bright side, the Houston Rockets’ revamped defense was less bad against the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday, only giving up 104 points (106.1 per 100 possessions pace, which is 7.3 better than their season average).
However, the Rockets scored just 85 points, losing to a Blazers’ team playing their fourth game in six days and on a road back-to-back. James Harden was out with a hamstring injury, but this is still a team with Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Eric Gordon, and plenty of prolific scorers — the Rockets should be better.
Houston is now 1-5 on the season with a bottom seven in the league offense and defense. After the latest loss coach Mike D’Antoni was just honest.
Players echoed the “we’ve got to be better theme.” They took responsibility for another flat performance.
All of which is great, but in the West there is genuine pressure to turn it around quickly. The Rockets are already five games back of the Warriors and — knowing that we are just seven games into the season — I’m not sure they can close that gap. They are already too buried to an elite team. Nobody sane should write the Rockets off as a playoff team, there is plenty of time to turn that around, but the clock is ticking. The Rockets have dug themselves a hole to start the season and they need to get out of it fast and stop digging.
They will have to do all that on the road — Houston heads out on a five-game road trip starting Friday. That trip could tell us a lot about these Rockets.