The Rockets have opened the 2018/19 season with a 1-5 record, struggling to get in a rhythm offensively and playing lackadaisical defense. They’ve dropped games to the Pelicans, Jazz, Blazers, and two separate contests against the Clippers, with their only win coming against the new-look Lakers.
“Right now, we’re playing like crap,” coach Mike D’Antoni said, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “We’re just not playing well. You know, I don’t have a whole lot of answers for you now. We’ll look, and we’ll fight it.”
The Rockets took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals last spring, finishing with a 65-17 record and cementing themselves as the second best team in the association. Some of their struggles this season could be blamed on Chris Paul‘s suspension or James Harden‘s hamstring injury, but the losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency have also hurt.
“We’ve lost our swagger and we’re on our heels,” D’Antoni said.
The Rockets’ upcoming schedule has them playing five straight road games, including contests in Brooklyn this Friday, Chicago on Saturday, and Indiana on Monday.
Here are some other notes out of Texas tonight:
- Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is expected to be sidelined for weeks as he continues his rehab from left ankle surgery, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com. “We’re still looking at weeks at this point,” Nowitzki said.“I haven’t even started running on the court, I haven’t even started running quick on the treadmill. I’ve just been slowly jogging and seeing how the foot reacts. Unfortunately we’re still talking weeks over days.” Nowitzki underwent surgery in April and hasn’t gone through a full practice session this season.
- Michael C. Wright of ESPN examines how DeMar DeRozan dealt with being traded and embraced the Spurs, who currently have a 5-2 record on the season. “It took a while for me to get back in that happy place,” DeRozan said, “where I didn’t care about much in the sense of like, ‘Just be happy, man. Just be yourself. Don’t worry about all that other stuff.’
- Gregg Popovich plans to use Dejounte Murray in a coaching role on the bench this season, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. The idea, according to Popovich, is to make Murray learn and feel part of the group instead of sitting alone in the locker room during games. Murray suffered a torn ACL in the Spurs’ preseason.