Early losses to nonplayoff teams doomed coach Kevin McHale in Houston, Rockets GM Daryl Morey explained in a Quora post. Morey said lopsided defeats at home influenced the decision to get rid of McHale. The GM didn’t cite the exact games, but he is probably referring to a 20-point loss to the Nuggets on opening night and an eight-point loss to the Nets on November 11th, both at the Toyota Center. “I believed that if we waited until what would be considered a normal timetable to make a change that it would likely be too late,” Morey wrote. “Our only focus is on winning and I felt a material change was necessary.” McHale led the Rockets to a division title and a spot in the Western Conference finals last season, but was dismissed on November 18th with a 4-7 record.
There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:
- Rockets center Dwight Howard doesn’t plan to demand the ball more in Game 2 of the series with the Warriors, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Frustration over his declining role in the offense is one of the reasons that Howard is expected to opt out of his contract this summer. Howard had 14 points on 10 shots in the Game 1 loss, and Watkins notes that he hasn’t registered double-digit shot attempts in back-to-back games since early March. “As a competitor, I’m going to get the job done, no matter what it takes,” Howard said. “If I get the ball, if I don’t get the ball, if I score two points or I score 30 points. I got to go out there and play as hard as I can as long as I’m on the floor. That’s all that really matters.”
- The Mavericks have problems that reach far beyond their Game 1 embarrassment against the Thunder, contends Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. He says the team is looking at a “dismal future” that includes no first-round pick this June, hardly any young talent to build around and a desire to commit $96MM over four years to Chandler Parsons, who has finished the last two seasons needing knee surgery.
- Thunder coach Billy Donovan noticed the difference in intensity during his first playoff game, relays Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Donovan won two NCAA titles at Florida but is in his first NBA season. “There was a different vibe when you walked in there in terms of the enthusiasm, the excitement and energy,” he said. “I really thought our environment was terrific last night.”