James Harden admits responsibility falls on him to play better defense, and getting him to stick to that notion is job one on a daunting list of tasks for Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, as Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle believes.
“That’s probably one of the reasons why the [team] energy has been so low,” Harden said. “Making shots or missing shots, I’ve got to bring my game.”
See more on the Rockets one day after they fired Kevin McHale:
- Bickerstaff understands the impatience around the franchise and his limited window of opportunity, and he plans to push the team harder than McHale had, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports examines. Still, Bickerstaff feels he owes a debt of gratitude to his predecessor, who brought him to Houston, promoted him, and gave him raises, Wojnarowski writes. “He did everything in his power to protect me, to protect my family,” Bickerstaff said of McHale. “He went out on a limb to support me.”
- The Rockets moved Ty Lawson to the bench for Wednesday’s game, just as McHale said before his ouster that he was thinking about doing, and it’s a move that the point guard said he’s on board with, as ClutchFans relays on Twitter. “Whatever for the team to win, I’m ready to do,” Lawson said.
- Lawson, who called for Tuesday’s players-only meeting, has been dreadful thus far for Houston, symbolizing the team’s sluggish start, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
- Dwight Howard believes he had a strong relationship with McHale and feels down about the team’s decision to let him go, as Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle relays. “We can’t control what ownership does,” Howard said. “If they want to get rid of a player or a coach, that’s their decision. None of us had a clue what was going on. That [players-only] meeting was all about us. We didn’t even mention the coaches.”
- Corey Brewer feels responsible for the firing, and said the blame shouldn’t be on McHale for the team’s slow start, as Creech notes in the same piece. “I don’t think [McHale] lost the locker room,” Brewer said. “This isn’t a fractured locker room. We just haven’t been playing like we should be. We have new pieces, different things to put together, but right now it’s about being men, looking in the mirror and coming out and playing hard every night.”
- Owner Leslie Alexander’s fervent desire for a title has driven the Rockets to become overeager to find solutions, like the hasty decision to fire McHale, an old-school denizen whose open-mindedness to GM Daryl Morey‘s analytics had made their working relationship function, Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding opines.