The Houston Rockets returned to practice Tuesday afternoon following a disappointing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Houston held a 15-point lead midway through the fourth-quarter before the Thunder closed out the game on a 27-7 run to steal a victory on the Rockets’ home floor.
The loss dropped the Rockets to sixth in the Western Conference, but more importantly, handed Houston their fourth consecutive defeat—their longest losing streak of the season.
“We are too talented of a team to lose four games in a row—that’s just not us. We gotta get our energy better, and have each other backs on defense and offense. We know we can turn this thing around at any time, but it is up to us to get over the hump.” - Eric Gordon
At the core of the Rockets’ struggles in recent weeks has been the poor shooting performance of James Harden. After a stretch where he shot 50% or better in seven straight games, Harden is currently experiencing the worst shooting slump of his career. While averaging 29 points over the past seven games, Harden is shooting 33.1% from the floor and a miserable 23.1% on 3-point field goal attempts.
On a night where he shot 1-17 from deep, James Harden should have taken more advantage of the #Thunder's lack of rim protection the way Russell Westbrook did in the game.— Coty Davis (@CotyDavis_24) January 21, 2020
Here are the two shot charts between Harden and Westbrook. #Rockets pic.twitter.com/eeUgFCYp1m
In the loss against the Thunder on Monday, Harden shot 9-for-29 from the field (31.0%) and an unpleasant 1-for-17 (.05%) from behind the arc.
“I gotta keep working my ass off and it’s all I can do. Obviously, I want to make every shot that I shoot, but it does not happen that way. The more you work the more confidence you have in yourself to continue taking those shots. It was a terrible game, but hopefully, those same shots will go in tomorrow.” - Harden
Not looking to make any adjustments due to the slumping performance of his star player, Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is fully confident in Harden’s ability to come out of his shooting slump sooner rather than later.
“I think realistically he’s [James Harden] going to get out of it. All he has to do is continue working on his shot, and these are the dog days of the regular season. You don’t overreact to it and tell him not to do something that has won us an average of 58 games over the past three years. I have no doubt that two weeks from now this will not still be an issue.”
Everyone spent the day and night bashing James Harden for shooting 1-17. Everyone always has nothing but negative words about this dude.— Sami Jarjour (@JarjourSami) January 21, 2020
What does he do? He stays back, still in his jersey and gets shots up. This is success. This is what you want ‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/ImnKRQUWuL
As the old saying goes, “there is a silver lining in every dark cloud,” and the Rockets are using this four-game losing streak to learn how to deal with adversity throughout the rest of the season.
“It can help us learn how to deal with adversity moving forward. During this losing streak, everyone is looking at all the negative things with our team, but in the last two games, we played great for three quarters. Unfortunately, it has been the final quarter that has been the downfall of us. This is something we can use to help strengthen our team as we look ahead to the rest of the season.” - P.J. Tucker
Prior to the start of a four-game road trip out west, the Rockets will look to return to their winning ways on Wednesday in a Western Conference showdown against the 30-13 Denver Nuggets. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. CT.