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Rockets never get it going in Indiana, lose 120-101

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Can the Rockets just get back to Houston?

NBA: Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

You couldn’t tell if the Rockets wanted to get off the road trip or just get to the All Star break.

Coming off an historic performance in Philadelphia, James Harden felt nearly like a no-show in the first half. He would make a play here and there, 1-10 shooting and a minus-14 in the first half contributed to the Rockets’ sincere lack of energy.

To their credit: the Pacers shot 67% in the first quarter, and ended with 55% at the half. They led for most of the way, getting the deficit up to as much as 18 for Houston. The Rockets did cut it to six towards the end of the second quarter, but the Pacers ended the half on a run putting them back up 14 at the break.

This was the Rockets 9th game in 14 days. It was the last game of a 5 game road trip. And it was their 16th game in the month of January. It was entirely reasonable that the Rockets might put up (another) dud. But there were moments of energy, namely from Patrick Beverley and a returning Eric Gordon.

The Rockets even made a decent run in the third quarter before Paul George sucked the soul out of Clint Capela’s life (alternative versions of that sentence: 1) “… before Paul George bullied Clint Capela like a big jerk.” 2) “… before Paul George hurt my feelings on a deep, meaningful level.” 3) “… before Paul George hit the whole country of Sweden in the mouth.”) Suddenly, it seemed, the lead was 20 and it had just always been that way.

This is not a good loss, and I am someone who believes in the concept of good losses. Even with a brutal schedule, exemplified by their horrendous January, losing like this is never going to look good. The defense was more or less inexcusable. The offensive energy was never there, and if it was it was never sustained. The Rockets played a bad game.

But that’s going to happen every once in a while? Call me crazy, but I’m not hitting the panic button yet. I’m not even really thinking about trades or anything else. The Rockets hit a rough stretch, and because of multiple factors (including a decent amount of health issues), they haven’t handled it with win after win. Not to mention, the Pacers have plenty of capable players and they play significantly better at home.

It was nice to see Ryan Anderson find his stroke again with 27 points. It was nice to see Eric Gordon back on the floor. And, it was nice to know Clint Capela. He was so young.

The Rockets play the Kings at home (wait, they can play at home?) on Tuesday.