MIAMI — “Hot,” ‘ coach Kevin McHale said about his pregame coffee. “We’ve got that going for us.”
After a remarkable collapse in Miami on Sunday night, the Rockets have fallen to 0-3, but this isn’t any old 0-3 start. The Rockets have made history in their early season futility. A 20-point loss to the at home. Another 20-point loss to thMasia system at Barcelona, but despite those roots he says it wouldn’t prevent him from accepting any future offer from Real.”If I do not have the option of Barca and I have to go to Real Madrid, I do not close any doors,” he said on La Sexta show Jueir arch nemesis the . Then on Sunday night, after being up 21 early in the second half in Miami against the , they ended up losing by 20 again.
Not exactly an ideal start.
“We haven’t had a rhythm yet, in training camp, preseason at all,” said after the loss. “We have guys in and out of the lineup, bigs, guards. We’ll find a rhythm, we’ll catch a rhythm, we’re not worried about it. We lost three in a row but we’re not really worried about it.”
So what’s the problem? Well, for starters, James Harden is shooting rought ex-Reds midfielder Momo Sissoko on French TV.Now 34, Sissoko was a Liverpool player between 2005 and 2008.RMC asked a number of Liverpool supporters outside of Anfield what they thought about their former midfielder and after a series of glowi22.2 percent from the field and 9.4 percent on 3-pointers. That’s not good. The offense hasn’t sustained any kind of real rhythm, and the injuries certainly don’t help. Houston was missing in Miami. Donatas Motiejunas and are also out, forcing the hand of McHale to start and play Clint Capela, and Chuck Hayes heavy minutes.
“Banged up training camp,” Harden explained when asked about trying to find success despite the injuries. “D-Mo’s out. TJ’s out. Dwight didn’t pla United want to re-sign their former striker.He said: “I am not going to deny anything you have read.”He is much valued and loved by us. He is a massive part of our team, he brings that unique pace and strength, coupled with technical ability and an y tonight. Ty, myself [in training camp and preseason]. We’ve had a lot of injuries throughout the preseason. We haven’t had a chance to catch a rhythm or catch a groove amongst each other.”
This may be true, but Kevin McHale is a Hall of Famer. He doesn’t do excuses. And he won’t let his team lean on them either. He expects the next guy to step up and play. They did it much of last year, and really, what other choice is there?
“This league’s not a really complicated league,” McHale said prior to the loss, “even though we like to make it complicated. In this league you’re either making excuses or making plays. If you’re making excuses, you’re getting your ass kicked. If you’re making plays, you’ve got a chance.”
The Rockets had every chance to get their first win of the season Sunday. Even with Harden struggling with his shot, he got to the free throw line in the first half (10-of-11) and was slinging the ball all over the court with seven assists. Then halftime came and delivered a speech to the Heat players to focus them on finishing the game properly.
That 41-point swing promptly went down. Houston went from up 21 to losing by 20 and looked like a mess in the process. After three games, Harden is making just 31 percent of his contested shots and 12 percent of his uncontested shots.
We all know he’ll get it going eventually, but these games matter. You can’t lose ground in the West. As we saw with the last year, the difference between home court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs and a Game 7 on the road could be these poor stretches at any point in the season.
“I’m just shooting my shots that I normally shoot. I’m not really trying to think about it too much. As good of a shooter that I am, I’m going to have struggles throughout the season. Obviously, first couple of games it’s tough. Just stay with it.”
McHale won’t let Harden take the full blame because the entire team has struggled.
“It has nothing to do with James,” McHale said. “It’s our team right now. We’re 0-3. James doesn’t have an individual record.”
True, but there’s no question what Harden does for this team. When he’s rolling the defense is reacting, and everything opens up. Right now, the offense is stagnant, and the defense is struggling because these things feed off each other. The young guys being called on as fill-ins don’t have total grasps of the schemes, especially on the interior. This drops the intensity and then everything cycles back through with the awfulness on the court.
Again, we’re not at the point where we should start worrying about the Rockets making the playoffs. That’s a wild overreaction at the start of November. But given the state of the West, is it already time to start worrying about their playoff positioning?
“We’ve got 79 games [left],” Harden said. “Teams are going to lose three in a row. This is the . We’re not really worried about all the other stuff. We have to focus on us, how can we improve, and then we’ll worry about that later.”
At least they have that hot pregame coffee going for them.