After a 13-5 record in the first full month of the NBA season, the Houston Rockets have a 4-3 record in the current month of December. Why? It seems the entire team has decided not to play any defense.
Offense has not been a problem this season. The Rockets have been ranked in the top five among NBA teams for total points per game and rebounds per game. James Harden (24.7) is fifth in the league for ppg, and Dwight Howard (13.2) is second in the league for rebounds. Averaging 107 points and 46.5 rebounds a game can only get you so far in the Western Conference. Nine of the top ten teams in the league for points are in the West.
After going 4-3 over a ten day stretch from November 4th to November 14th, Coach Kevin McHale said he would make defense more of a priority. During that stretch, they gave up 137 to the Los Angeles Clippers and lost two games in overtime.
Jeremy Lin declared their last overtime loss to the 76ers the “worst defensive game of the year.” It seems he spoke to soon.
In the four losses in the month of December they have allowed opponents to average 106 points and 43.5 rebounds.
Lin can only assume partial blame for the defense since he has missed seven games in both November and December, but the majority of the issues are with the perimeter players. They have allowed Gordon Heyward, Eric Bledsoe, and even Rudy Gay in his Sacramento debut to score at will.
In the upcoming week, the Rockets will have to slow down perimeter shooters like Luol Deng, Paul George, and Brandon Jennings. With only three games in seven days, they need to spend their time in the gym on the defensive end.
Interesting Note: Jeremy Lin missed Sunday’s game versus Sacramento due to back spams after returning against Golden State. James Harden injured his ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings.
12/18 vs Bulls 8:30 PM
12/20 @Pacers 7:00 PM
12/21 @Pistons 6:30 PM