It certainly has been a tough year for the Houston Rockets. If the current losing record holds, it will be the first time in 10 seasons that the Rockets have finished with an under .500 record, when Houston went 34-48 in 2005-2006 under Jeff Van Gundy, and Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady missed a combined 60 games.
There's been plenty of blame to go around, from poor defense, to lack of chemistry, to a struggling bench (at least until Michael Beasley arrived) and a giant black hole at the power forward position for a large chunk of the season.
It's refreshing then, to see GM Daryl Morey step up and shoulder the blame and set the culture of the team by taking responsibility from the top down when it would have been very easy, and even understandable, to hand main culpability over to the men hitting the hardwood each night. While no one in the organization is exempt from blame, Morey feels you can begin the critique with himself, telling ESPN's Calvin Watkins:
"It's been a tough year for everybody. Not just me, but also Mr. Alexander, the coaches, the players, all the way down, the fans. I think that responsibility lies with everyone, but it starts with me."
Another character trait that defines a good leader is confidence in the face of adversity. A positive outlook theoretically (and hopefully) can have a trickle-down effect through the entire organization, and Morey also made it clear to Watkins that despite the season's underachievement, he still has faith in his players and their ability to make some serious noise in the postseason.
"Often our results haven't matched our confidence, but we're a confident group going into the end of the season. We feel like we can make a run and have a real impact in the playoffs."
First thing is first, however, and the Rockets need to make the dance before beginning any real hopes of succeeding there, something that is currently far from a foregone conclusion. Houston heads into tonight's nationally televised contest with the Bulls in a three-way tie with the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz for the 7th and 8th spots in the Western Conference seeding. One of those teams is going to be left out.
The Rockets do have the luxury of the easiest remaining schedule of the three teams, playing just one squad with a winning record the rest of the way out (and a head-to-head against the Mavs), but if there's one thing we've learned this year about this group of Rockets, is they don't always win the ones they are supposed to.
But with Dallas and Utah also playing each other one more time yet, and the Mavs still with Memphis, the Clippers, and San Antonio left to go in addition to their head-to-heads, the Rockets have a real opportunity to grab a strong hold on a playoff spot as we move down the final regular season stretch.
Daryl Morey is obviously confident they're going to do it, but what do you say, TDS? Are the Rockets going to make the postseason? If so, do they have any real chance of getting hot and advancing, or this just a case of the GM simply saying the right things publicly to the press?