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Injury-ravaged Rockets struggling to adjust to missing teammates

From NBA media reports

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The Houston Rockets players who are available and participating know that, eventually, injured teammates such as James Harden (left hamstring), Luc Mbah a Moute (right shoulder) and Nene (right knee) will heal and return to help. They also probably know, deep down, that without Harden, their prospects in the postseason would be limited.

So maybe that’s why the Rockets haven’t normalized and fully adjusted in those guys’ absences. Instead, they have dropped seven of nine games heading into Monday’s visit to Chicago, having failed to find an extra gear they’d need precisely for such a circumstance. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle talked with some of them about it:

D’Antoni said he does not want to overreact, especially on the offensive end, because the Rockets’ analysis showed Saturday’s game was their seventh-best game all season at creating good shots, their fourth-best at taking the shots they want.

“We’re doing what we want,” he said. “Is it a matter of the past couple games us shooting below normal and the other team shooting above normal? But where we get in trouble is thinking we can just outscore them. You think unconsciously, ‘Oh, that one basket didn’t matter. We’ll go down and score.’ Then we miss an open 3. After a while, you’re not playing with the same urgency. It gradually erodes. We have to get that back.”

That could amount to playing with confidence offensively, urgency defensively. Overall, the Rockets offense has been solid, if not where it was, ranking seventh over the past 10 games. The defense, however, has ranked 28th in that stretch

“We know we have the ability and the talent in the group we have (healthy) to win,” forward Ryan Anderson said. “We just need to come together and battle harder, play harder. I want to look myself in the mirror regardless of how many looks I get, if shots fall or not, I want to play harder. We just have to clear our heads and put all this, this little stretch, behind us. We know we can play so much better.”

Houston’s players and coaches can keep searching for answers. But in the NBA, few elixirs are better than facing the right opponent at the right time. And the Rockets, who still sport the league’s top offensive rating (115.2), might be doing just that Monday night. Consider: