clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Thunder pummel Rockets 153-121

Worse Than It Looks

NBA: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
Ready to Toast
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

How broken are the Rockets?

At one point they were down 40+ points to the OKC Thunder.

The game was a beat down from early in the first quarter, and it never got much better until the benches were truly emptied and OKC was just goofing on the Rockets in the 4th quarter.

It’s difficult to describe just how bad and clueless the Rockets were on both offense and defense. The Rockets absolutely deserved to lose by this much, and how much diagnosis we can make of the players is limited. Josh Christopher’s bizarre exile should end. TyTy Washington should always play of Daishen Nix, who looks less like an NBA player by the game.

Coach Stephen Silas’ postgame interview seemed to blame the complete defensive collapse (the Rockets nearly surrendered 80 points in the first half) to the absence of Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate. Pardon me? Would they each have erased 20 points of deficit? I’ve long been a lonely Gordon stalwart, but no, he’s not that good. No one is.

While it’s true Tate and Gordon are experienced players who know what to do, there’s another salient point about both of them: neither were trained by, nor learned to play, from the present Rockets coaching staff.

Oklahoma City has one early career prime player logging significant minutes: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is all of 24. Josh Giddey? Drafted in the same draft as Jalen Green. Jalen Williams? A rookie. Aaron Wiggins? A second round pick from 2021. Jaylin Williams? Another rookie. I suppose Mike Muscala is a long serving NBA player, but he played 18 minutes. The Thunder can’t even play their 2022 #2 pick, Chet Holmgren.

The point being, Silas’ excuses simply don’t wash. A back to back is an excuse to go down 40 points because a few guys are out? The Thunder team that played tonight essentially aren’t meaningfully more experienced overall than the Rockets.

OKC is better coached. They play better basketball. Their defense, while not great, isn’t a tire fire. Their offense isn’t a backed up sewer line that does the same ineffective things over and over and over and over, and fails to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the players on the team. Sure, the Rockets scored 120, but when OKC was establishing its lead, in the first quarter, they scored 19.

The consistent failure to recognize who is good, who might be useful, on a given night, is devastating. The absolute lack of accountability for in game play for certain players who the Rockets are counting on to be stars is astonishing. The long exile of other players from minutes for comparatively trivial mistakes is toxic. Sticking with players who purportedly fill a position, rather than do useful things on a court, is maddening.

Is this a management directive? A coaching decision? In any case, it needs to stop. The entire rebuilding project seems in danger of going off the rails. Not from losses, but from a lack of player development, a lack of coherence of play, a lack of accountability.

A 14% chance of Victor Wembanyama, (and a much more likely Thompson Twin), an F.U. to OKC by keeping the Rockets pick, isn’t worth letting a whole team worth of NBA prospects die on the vine.

The only developmental players who look better right now than when the season started are the ones who weren’t handed the keys to the team with literally no visible in game accountability: Sengun, Christopher, Martin, Eason, Washington, Garuba.

How can Rockets management not see this? How can they not act? The danger to the future of the team is real. Losses like this used to be career enders for coaches. Now they’re part of some Genius Long Term Strategy, apparently.

Maybe Silas’ excuses are true. Maybe nobody can get a better tune out of the janky piano that is the 2022-2023 Rockets, but it truly seems the time has come to find out. Could it really be worse than tonight?



This poll is closed

  • 9%
    (9 votes)
  • 5%
    (5 votes)
  • 50%
    Down in the ground where the dead men go.
    (49 votes)
  • 2%
    (2 votes)
  • 8%
    Down Under.
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Limit Down.
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    Buried The Needle.
    (4 votes)
  • 15%
    Downton Abbey.
    (15 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now