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Mike D'Antoni: Houston Rockets need rhythm more than rest as season ends

From NBA media reports

Fatigue and the risk of injury aren’t the only things that NBA teams need to worry about when they hit the home stretch of the regular season, their position in the standings — and ideally, in the playoff bracket — locked in.

Bad habits and a general staleness can rear their heads, too, which is why a coach like the Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni has to walk a fine line between the trendy temptation to rest his heavy-minutes guys and the need for them, by playing, to dial up their performances as the postseason nears.

D’Antoni talked rest vs. rhythm after the Rockets’ Sunday loss in San Antonio snapped their 11-game winning streak. That might seem unreasonable considering Houston (62-15) had a 17-game winning streak just prior to this latest one, meaning 28 victories in a span of 30 games since late January.

But hey, a coach good knows his team, as ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports:

[D’Antoni said: “At] the end of the year, you’ve got to be careful taking guys out and just resting them. Everybody wants rest, rest, rest. Well, they’ve got to play. Otherwise, we’re going to lose the advantage of what you worked for for 80 games, and it’s scary times for us. You’ve got to play. You’ve got to bring it, and you’ve got to bring it every day. We’ll get it back.”

Before getting blown out against the Spurs, the Rockets kept their winning streak going by beating lottery-bound competition in the previous three games, but they readily acknowledge they haven’t played up to their standards recently. Houston was especially sloppy in Friday’s win over the Phoenix Suns, when the Rockets rallied from a 21-point deficit and needed a Gerald Green buzzer-beater to escape with a win over a team that has the NBA’s worst record.

“We’ve coasted these last few games,” said [MVP front-runner James] Harden, who is in the midst of a slump, going 37-of-99 from the floor and 6-of-40 from 3-point range in his past five games. “It’s time to amp it up a little bit. Just get our minds and our bodies right and get ready to go.”

The Rockets have rested plenty, as far as D’Antoni concerned. He doesn’t consider more rest beneficial for Houston as the playoffs near.

“Being rested and playing bad is not going to be a good formula going into the playoffs,” D’Antoni said. “That’s not good. They have enough rest. How it became vogue just not to play, I don’t know.”

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