INTENSITY IS AN ACTION WORD: Rockets bounce back from early season woes to regain winning form
On December 7th, Houston Rockets backup point guard Eric Gordon made a statement that was not only heard around the Rockets locker room, but the entire city of Houston. The team had just dropped its second game in a row, a loss to the Utah Jazz where the team was very lethargic.
“I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon told Kelly Iko of the Athletic.
He went on to say in that same interview that the team just doesn’t have the right attitude and players were not being used right. Gordon had reason to be concerned, especially when he had witnessed his team win five in a row before losing two games that would eventually turn into three after a loss to the Dallas Mavericks. During that losing streak the Rockets had picked up some very bad habits.
In a 103 – 91 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Rockets gave up a double-digit lead and scored 9 points in the fourth quarter. The next game, Houston lost 118 – 91 and they were only able to muster up 11 points in the third quarter. Against the Dallas Mavericks, they allowed sensational Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic to score 11 straight points to lead his team to victory after the Rockets had a lead late into the game. Do you see where I am going? Houston had developed some very habits that was carrying over from game to game.
After the third loss, Rockets head coach made a profound statement that most just pushed aside as “Coach Talk,” but his words resonated loud and clear with his players.
“I think the good news out of all of this is that if we play with intensity, we are going to win a lot of games,” Mike D’Antoni told the media.
James Harden and the rest of the Rockets players took those words and turned them into action. Houston defeated the Portland Trailblazers, a team who had defeated them earlier in the season and was on their way to sending Houston to their 4th straight loss and keep them at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. Two nights later, the best player on the planet (LeBron James) would come strolling into the Toyota Center with his young group of ballers looking to take down the Rockets. Yes, the same LeBron who had shunned Houston during free agency this past summer. The reigning NBA MVP (Harden) would have none of that. The Toyota Center is “The House That James Built” and he proved it by dropping a 50-point triple double on the Lakers.
“He can put the ball in the hole multiple ways. He can drive, step-back 3s and you can’t give him easy points,” LeBron James told the media after the game.
Houston would go on to win their next two games and Harden looks in MVP form again averaging 39 points a game and reenergizing the Rockets. Houston has worked their way back to playoff contention and just may have found the formula to winning again. Intensity.