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Thursday January 26, 2012 4:29 PM

Back To Work

Rockets return to practice floor aiming to rediscover winning feeling

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com




HOUSTON - One day after seeing their seven-game winning streak snapped in disappointing fashion on their home floor, the Rockets went back to work Thursday afternoon with renewed focus and energy in order to ensure they’ll be able to start a new streak Friday night when the Washington Wizards come to town.

The Rockets took advantage of a rare opportunity to fit in a full practice, sitting down to study film for an hour before doing drill work and going through some half-court five-on-five action for another 90 minutes. Not surprisingly, Houston’s coaching staff wasn’t pleased with the effort and execution they witnessed when watching tape of Wednesday night’s 101-95 loss to Milwaukee, with Head Coach Kevin McHale saying afterward that he saw far too much walking around and improper spacing and positioning for his liking.

“The biggest thing for me today after watching that film last night was that we just have to play with pace and with a surge and force and quickness to our game,” said McHale. “When we get walking around that’s not good for us offensively or defensively.

“You could see some execution issues and some things creeping in that you didn’t like and we addressed them. Sometimes you see the film, you watch yourself do it and the players all saw what we saw – the film doesn’t lie.”

Discouraging defeat aside, this remains a team that has still won right of its past 10 games so there’s certainly a matter of perspective required when performing the post mortem on the demise of Houston’s win streak. The Rockets remain a top-10 team in terms of offensive efficiency and have shown an ability to play intense, disruptive defense in spurts. The key, of course, lies in their ability to turn those spurts into prolonged periods of smothering, suffocating D, thereby allowing the club to trigger its potent transition attack (according to Synergy Sports, the Rockets rank 10th in transition scoring, averaging 1.15 points per possession when pushing the pace).

And when those transition opportunities are not there, McHale and company want to see the team execute better out of its half-court sets. That means better picks, harder cuts, improved spacing and ball movement, and most definitely fewer turnovers. Do those things and there’s little doubt the Rockets should be able to get themselves rolling again during the final three games of this current homestand – a stretch that begins Friday night against a Wizards team Houston has already defeated once this season.

“We had a little bit of a setback,” said Kyle Lowry. “But for the most part I think we’re getting our defensive sets and how we want to play defense, now we just have to fix our half-court offense. We’re really good on transition offensively and I think we just need to focus in on half-court offense.

“We made mistakes. It was one game and we’ve got another one tomorrow. That’s the thing about this league … we’ve got another one Friday and Saturday so we just prepare today for tomorrow and keep it going day by day.”

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