The Rockets came out with more focus and energy tonight than in their loss to Denver in the opener, but were undone by another night of poor shooting and no offensive rhythm to speak of in a second consecutive blowout, losing 112-92 to the Golden State Warriors.
The Rockets actually started the game well, with Ty Lawson handling the ball more and looking good (for a short while) doing it. He did have some issues following around the always sharp-shooting Stephen Curry, but Lawson's nice play making allowed the Rockets to keep pace alongside the Warriors in the first quarter.
Montrezl Harrell also had another big first quarter, scoring on several put backs and a gorgeous up and under to finish the quarter going 5-5 from the field for 11 points. But just as in the opener, he also showed a penchant for silly fouls, snagging a technical for retaliating at Draymond Green's antics and also had a bad three-shot foul on Curry.
We'd see no more of Harrell until the late third quarter, as Golden State went small and Kevin McHale countered with his two-point-guard look.
The Rockets finished the first quarter down just 30-29, despite James Harden only scoring 2 points, but the bottom fell out soon after.
Golden State turned up the defensive clamps in the second, holding the Rockets to an abysmal 5-23 shooting and just 14 points in the quarter, to take a 57-44 lead into the halftime locker room.
James Harden was just 2-11 for 7 points at the mid-game buzzer, and Dwight Howard sat for most of the half with 3 fouls, as Rockets shot just 34.9 percent from the field and crumbled under the weight of the Warrior's defense.
The Rockets made a small run in the third to get within 9 points, but a lack of familiarity and practice time (McHale told the game press the Rockets had only two total practices as a full team) fostered a lack of ball movement, a stagnant offense and an inability to keep pace with the Warriors.
Steph Curry poured in 25 for Golden State, who also got 12 from Harrison Barnes (and posterizing dunk on Howard), 11 from Klay Thompson and 14 off the bench from Marreese Speights.
A second consecutive bad loss with no one really looking exceptional has the Rockets licking their wounds and in serious need of some chemistry.
James Harden had another poor shooting night, going just 4-18 from the field, including only 1-10 from three for 16 points, and Howard battled foul trouble all night and finished with just 9 points, 7 rebounds and a block to go along with 5 fouls and 4 turnovers in a mere 22 minutes. He looked very much like he was playing his first basketball in almost a month (he was).
Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer both shot poorly for the second consecutive game, and despite a spunky start, Ty Lawson finished with only 11 points and 5 assists on just 2-8 shooting.
Also for the second consecutive game, Terrence Jones was a non-factor, and he later left for the locker room after taking a nasty poke to eye, completing the total bed-wetting by the starting five.
Motrezl Harrell led the Rockets with 17 points, though 6 of those came in garbage time after the game had long been decided. But the young man showed once again that he certainly belongs, and it's on McHale to work him into the lineup more than the 18.5 minutes he's averaged over the first two games.
Clint Capela finished with 7 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks for his second consecutive multi-block game, but that's the short and the long list of Rockets bright spots.
The Rockets shot well under 40 percent for the second consecutive game (34.5 percent vs. Denver and 36.6 percent tonight) and have turned the ball over an incredible 33 times to start the season.
Cursed by a lack of fluidity, pace, and rhythm, all that can be said for the squad is, "it's back to drawing board." The team obviously needs some significant practice time together, but at the moment, they're playing as bad as any team in the league and are 0-2 for the first time since 2010.
Once they can all get on the same page, expect things to turn around, but let's hope it happens fast. The Western Conference is no place to dig yourself out of an early season chasm.