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Regular Season: Rockets "Schedule Loss" Review

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How did the Rockets perform in the five games identified as a "schedule loss" during the second half of the season?

Scott Halleran

On New Year's Day with 49 games left in the season I busted out my pocket schedule and predicted the Rockets five remaining schedule losses.

Schedule Loss: When the NBA schedule prevents you from being competitive in a regular season game.

Example: Playing the third night of a back-to-back-to-back against an opponent who had the previous night off in the strike shortened season.

Example: Making the west coast swing and playing the final game of five in eight days in Los Angeles on the second night of a back-to-back when you played in Portland the previous night.

These predictions were inspired by a blowout 86 - 117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on December 29th. The circumstances for that game were such: Houston played in OKC the night after playing their eighth game in twelve days.

I identified five games the Rockets could pickup a schedule loss. The Rockets record in those games: Two Wins and Three Losses

Oklahoma City @ Houston -- January 16: Loss 92-104
Houston @ Dallas -- January 29: Win 117-115
Houston @ Sacramento -- February 25: Win 129-103
Houston @ Los Angeles Clippers -- February 26: Loss 93-101
Houston @ Denver -- April 9: Loss 116-123

Let's run them down:

Oklahoma City @ Houston -- January 16: 92-104 Loss

Challenges:
Second night of a back-to-back for Houston.
OKC has a night off day before playing Houston.

Why we lost:
Of the entire season this was THE LOSS.
Houston dropped 73 first half points on 12 of 20 three point shooting.
In the second half the Rockets absolutely died and scored only 19 points.
The team lost focus and let the Thunder momentum overtake their play in the second half.

Houston @ Dallas -- January 29: 117-115 Win

Challenges:
Second night of a back-to-back for Houston.
Dallas has two nights off before playing Houston.
Houston has to play San Antonio at home the night before.

Why we won:
Rockets held control of the game through three and a half quarters without James Harden.
Offense gave the Rockets a lead throughout. Game got close when Rockets didn't score for the final three minutes.

Houston @ Sacramento -- February 25: 129-103 Win

Challenges:
Game four of a five game west coast road trip.
This is the fourth game in seven days.
Sacramento has a night off before playing Houston.

Why we won:
Big early lead: 42 - 17 in the first quarter.
James Harden scored 30 points in the first half.
Rockets got a big early jump. The game was never contested.

Houston @ Los Angeles Clippers -- February 26: 93-101 Loss

Challenges:
Final game of a five game road trip and fifth game in eight days.
This is the second night of back-to-back road games.
The Clippers had a night off before playing Houston.

Why we lost:
The Rockets were dead tired and couldn't compete in the fourth quarter after the game was a single point affair in the third.

Houston @ Denver -- April 9: 116-123 Loss

Challenges:
This is the Rockets' sixth game in nine days.
This is the second night of back-to-back road games.
The Nuggets had two nights off before playing Houston.

Why we lost:
The Rockets were exhausted. They barely took the court for this game with Harden and Lin barely contributing.
The Rockets threw in the towel in the fourth and let the Rio Grande Vipers take the floor.