The Houston Rockets just lost big to the Los Angeles Lakers… again. After getting clobbered on Monday, 120-102, the beating continued on Wednesday, 117-100, which actually looked worse despite having similar scores. They are now just 3-6 on the season, and have lost four of their last five.
Whenever teams go through rough spans, it’s almost a given to see coaches or players give testy or controversial quotes during the postgame sessions, especially in Harden’s case, who’s been vocal about wanting a trade since November. He even sat out training camp and some preseason games.
That’s exactly what we got from the disgruntled star after suffering their second-straight blowout loss, although what he said definitely included some unexpectedly fiery remarks:
Aside from the disappointment, it showed once again how things can quickly change in the NBA. Just two days ago, there were rumors that said team executives believe the Rockets are starting to win back Harden. Now, it looks worse than ever before.
Is it really unfixable?
Unless the Rockets suddenly go on a massive tear, it doesn’t sound that it is. Harden is looking more and more uninterested with the team and it’s translating into his production. He’s only scoring 17.4 points per game on 37.8% shooting over his last five, easily one of the worst stretches of his Rockets career.
We may also have to take into account the roller coaster off-season the team had, which included things that didn’t go with Harden’s wishes, like forcing general manager Daryl Morey to resign and failing to hire his preferred coach, Tyronn Lue, who got snagged by conference rival LA Clippers.
That’s not to say that the management is at fault. Of course, there’s a huge part where we can drop the blame on Harden. The Rockets have been notorious for catering to everything that he star wanted – free agency signings, trades, time of practice, time and date when they’ll fly home or to the next city, etc.
Harden has also drove a couple of co-stars away after short stints – Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and even longtime friend Russell Westbrook, who got traded one season after being acquired for a collection of first-round picks.
Is the team really bad?
It honestly looks solid on paper, so much so that it can only implode if one of the stars is hell-bent on getting out.
Houston’s new GM, Rafael Stone, held his own after being thrown into the fire right away. He simply made the necessary moves, nothing too cutesy or anything. He signed young, sought-after big man Christian Wood, traded Russell Westbrook for floor general John Wall, picked up DeMarcus Cousins with a low-risk, high-reward deal, and hired veteran assistant coach Stephen Silas. Combine that with mainstays Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker, among others, and it’s arguably more interesting than the small-ball teams from previous seasons.