After a preseason road trip filled with controversy in the wake of Daryl Morey’s tweet, the Houston Rockets returned home to take the court for an early morning practice session on Sunday, inside the Toyota Center’s practice facility. Although the Rockets ended their preseason road trip with a 2-1 record, head coach Mike D’Antoni says the Rockets must improve one aspect of their game ahead of the new season.
“We have had a good few weeks of work, and I see where we are doing a lot of good things as a team. But there are a few things we have to clean up. Turnovers are killing us right now. We have had way too many turnovers, and that can lead to easy baskets for the other team.”
Other than their preseason opener against the Shanghai Sharks (14 turnovers), the Rockets have had a problem taking care of the ball in their first outings against NBA competition. In their showcase against the Clippers and Raptors, Houston has averaged 20.6 turnovers over the last three games — which gave way to a total of 71 points.
James Harden said Houston raised the level of concern for turnovers during their 118-111 win over the Raptors on Thursday. En route to their seven-point victory, the Rockets gave up the ball nine times in the third quarter, which resulted in 15 easy points for Toronto.
“Offensively, we have played really well, but we have turned the ball over way too much. For us to be really good this season, we have to make sure we limit our number of turnovers to create more shot opportunities for us as a team. We have to make sure we stay on the same page.”
A portion of the Rockets’ turnover woes is a result of building chemistry with their new players, but none more so than Russell Westbrook. In his first two games as a member of the Rockets, the eight-time All-Star has averaged 4.5 turnovers, as Westbrook coughed up the ball up five times in his debut on Tuesday. D’Antoni said:
“With the news guys, we just have to build that chemistry with them. Playing with Russ is a little different, but we are in a pretty good spot to maximize our potential. We have three practices before playing San Antonio and another three to four before the start of the season. I am sure we will get there.”
Following a road trip to Hawaii and Japan, the Rockets (3-1) will continue their preseason schedule on Wednesday in a home match-up against the San Antonio Spurs. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. inside the Toyota Center in Houston.