One week ago, Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni spoke of his team's lack of "swagger" and said they were on their heels after a 1-5 start. Following a 98-80 drubbing Thursday in Oklahoma City to the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder, D'Antoni sees another issue with the Rockets: their offense.
“Our offense is anemic,” D'Antoni told reporters after the loss. “I mean, it’s bad. I think sometimes we think we have to shut the other team out. We can’t. We’ve been holding everybody under 100.
“We start the game off and a couple, three layups we’re missing, and foul shots. That adds up. We have to start imposing our will and get our swagger. A lot of it is mental energy.”
In last night's loss, the Rockets scored were down by 15 points at halftime and scored less than 25 points in three of the four quarters. That performance was on par for Houston this season, as it ranks 27th in points per game (102.8) -- one of many troubling offensive numbers for the Rockets this season.
In 2017-18, Houston ranked second in points (112.4 ppg), 15th in field goal percentage (46 percent) and 14th in 3-point percentage (36.2 percent). This season, Houston is last in field goal percentage (42.1) and 25th in 3-point percentage (32.7). In terms of advanced stats, the Rockets were No. 1 in offensive rating, No. 1 in net rating and No. 2 in both effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage last season. This season, Houston is 26th in offensive rating, 23rd in net rating, 24th in effective field goal percentage and 28th in true shooting percentage.
Things looked up a bit for the Rockets last weekend as they pieced together a three-game win streak from Nov. 2-5. This loss to Oklahoma City not only ended that streak, but raised red flags as Houston displayed some traits from the team's 1-5 start.
Westbrook missed the game as he recovers from a sprained left ankle, but the Thunder had no problem against the Rockets without their top player. That's because Houston couldn't make a shot and several key players were out of rhythm. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, James Harden and James Ennis combined to shoot 14-for-48 (29.2 percent) in the defeat Thursday. Anthony shot 1-for-11 overall in his first game back against the team he played for in 2017-18.
“I missed them,” Anthony said when asked about his poor shooting night. “At the end of the day, I missed them. I missed those looks, some open shots. As a team, we didn’t shoot the ball well, extremely poor. I think that kind of got to us a little bit. Our energy, our spirit was down because of that.”
Paul is in the midst of a career-worst season shooting-wise, with a 39.3 field goal percentage and his 16.8 ppg his lowest mark since 2012-13. Still, he saw an easy solution to Houston's woes.
"Man, part of it has probably gotta be, I ain't made no shots," Paul said postgame. "I mean, that'll probably help if you see some go through."
The Rockets' next game is tomorrow night as they visit the San Antonio Spurs (8:30 ET, NBA TV).