I was despondent after last night's game. Because the Rockets played hard. They played hard and lost to a really good team, and the game was closer than it should have been, considering the officiating.
The Rockets couldn't buy a bucket. It's been a depressing, recurring feeling. Part of the problem early on in the season, the sluggishness that got Kevin McHale fired, was the shots not falling. You can only hear so many clangs on the rim before your shoulders begin to slump, your elbow begins to fly out, and your legs don't get up like they usually do.
But, considering that the Rockets put up their fourth-worst shooting performance of the season, considering they were winning when Dwight Howard was tossed (I think what he did was worthy of one technical, but it's the kind of thing a ref usually lets go if it's a player's second), this shouldn't have been that disappointing of a result. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for about 60 points and 20 rebounds. They were absurd.
Clearly this game hit me harder than some other fans.
They were right. In the grand scheme of things this year, the game was probably above average. So why so glum?
Because it feels like this season just doesn't matter anymore. Sure, Dwight didn't deserve to get himself thrown out, but the dude has never been able to get out from under referees' skin. I can't hear what he's saying on the court, but clearly the refs have a strong dislike for him.
Terrence Jones and Ty Lawson sometimes look as if they believe the Monstars have stolen their talent. The flashes are there, but the will to use their own talent has left them. Trevor Ariza has had great stretches, but stretches of hot Ariza shooting alone cannot sustain this team. Jason Terry is still a solid three-point shooter, but the reliable 40% of last year is gone.
Josh Smith breathed new life, briefly, back into this time, but even his shot, too, is unreliable at best.
The Rockets wanted to give James Harden playmakers to ease the burden. What they should have gotten him is shooters. And now again he is Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a hill that the Warriors, Thunder and Spurs have already climbed.
So I'm glum because I feel like I, as a Rockets/fan writer, am on an 82-game treadmill, waiting for the season to end and to see what happens then. The Rockets won't give up Dwight Howard because that would be an admission of failure. The piece make sense together, but they seemed to have suffered enough
water champagne damage to have warped, and they no longer fit together as seamlessly as they once did.
The Rockets have a good chance to win tonight. The Wizards are the exact type of team they've beaten of late: talented, but ultimately not that good. Chris Harris was right: it's a lost season. That it's not even the All-Star Game just despresses me.