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Defense fails the Rockets again in the loss to the Bucks

Defense fails the Rockets again, plus other takeaways from the loss to the Bucks

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Monday night, there was a shootout up north and the Rockets came out on the losing end of it, falling 128-121. No, the game did not go into overtime. The Rockets played another game with no defense, allowing a season-high 128 points to the Bucks, who on average score 98.1 points a game.

Like so many games this season, the Rockets came out to a slow start and had to play catch-up for the rest of the game. They would make it close towards the end of the game but just could not get any stops.

Below are three takeaways from the Rockets road loss to the Bucks.

Josh Smith, please stop

Can we not have Josh Smith take any more threes for a while? Yeah he made two on Monday night, but still, it really doesn't help the Rockets. Since re-joining the team after his spell with the Clippers, Smith is shooting a career high 3.7 threes a game.

Monday night the Bucks were leaving him wide open on the three-point. "Shoot it," Bucks players said and shoot it he did. Every time Smith jacked up a three, it was a win for the Bucks.

Smith is at his best when he is going downhill towards the basket, and if the drive isn't there he passes it out to someone with a better shot.

Smith wasn't the reason for the loss — well, maybe not his shooting, but he helped Jabari Parker score a career-high 36 points — but his threes are just tough to watch. Go to the rim five or six times a game, get your flow going and then shoot threes, not the other way around.

On Monday night, he was 4-11 from the field (2-6 from three), but on uncontested shots he was just 3-7.

More cutting is needed

The one constant thought I had throughout the game was how much better the offense would be if the Rockets cut more. The Rockets offense is pretty easy to defend: pack the paint and make run-outs to the three-point line when the ball is moved out there.

Houston needs to add a lot more wrinkles and the easiest one would be including more cuts to the rim. You have one of the best slashers in the game in Corey Brewer, but he's wasted just taking spot up threes. Patrick Beverley has an ever-growing offensive game and is getting much better at his rim-runs, and his tear-drop is pretty effective.

Instead of taking threes of which the Rockets only make 30ish percent, why not have Trevor Ariza — he clearly showed you Monday he can dish it — James Harden or Smith toss it to guys cutting to the rim? If the shot is missed Dwight Howard, is right there for a rebound at the rim rather than trying to track down three-point shot.

Defense... What's that?

The Rockets allowed 59 percent shooting and 128 points in a non-overtime game. The defense had more holes than a block of swiss cheese. It was rough to watch.

"We've got to be better defensively to a man, we've got to step up and take the challenge, we have guys in there that are capable defenders," said J.B. Bickerstaff.

While the coach is right, until the Rockets players say "enough is enough," the defense will not change.

Monday night, Miles Plumlee got loose and got dunks left and right, Jabari Parker was nailing jumpers and getting into the paint way too easily.

Unlike the Spurs, against whom the Rockets played decent defense but got beat by that last pass, the Bucks were able to penetrate the paint to perfection.

The Rockets got back into the game because the Bucks also did not play any defense. Had the Rockets executed a little more in the closing minutes, it would have been a much more interesting final moment.