Launch Codes

An inside look at the Houston Rockets' playoff operation

Via USATODAY.COM - Mike D’Antoni had an announcement to make.

The pre-practice prep with his Houston Rockets staff was about over, this skull session coming inside his crowded Toyota Center office just hours after their Game 2 blowout loss in the Western Conference semifinals to the San Antonio Spurs. It started as a two-man meeting, just D’Antoni and his top offensive assistant, Brett Gunning, analyzing the loss from every angle on video at around 9:30 a.m. Eight other men piled in from there, everyone from defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik to young video coordinator Mitch Vanya sitting around a table and plotting ways to take down the Spurs machine that, as they say, never beats itself.

The tape was hard to watch, but D’Antoni’s background tunes helped soothe their frustrated basketball minds – James Taylor, Creedence, Adele, John Legend and others cutting through the chorus of critical hoops analysis. And as the clock ticked past 11 a.m., the gray-haired D’Antoni had a silver lining to share...

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