Houston Rockets trying to get offense fully on track

NBA.com staff reports

How the Houston Rockets handle success throughout the course of this regular season should be a great indicator of the growth and development of this group since last season, when they ran out of energy during their postseason run. If the early signs are any indication, the mentality is definitely different from a year ago.

Sitting atop the Western Conference standings with an undefeated record and the Memphis Grizzlies up next tonight at Toyota Center, the Rockets are focused on doing what they are supposed to do best (shoot the ball from deep) much better. Coach Mike D’Antoni wants his team to know that their current 3-point shooting percentage (28.6) is unacceptable. There is much work to be done, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle makes clear:

Had there been any inclination for the Rockets to believe they were “just missing” shots, as teams that miss so often so often do, that ended with Sunday’s video session. Video evidence is not necessary if the only adjustment needed is to have the same shots that have been missing go in.

The Rockets are scoring, anyway, defending well enough and driving often enough to be the NBA’s only 3-0 team. But no team has taken as many 3-pointers, or even come close. Only three teams have shot worse than the Rockets 28.6 3-point percentage.

Some of that might be attributed to good shots shot badly in the small sample size of the season’s first week. With the switching and swarming defense of the Grizzlies in town on Monday, the Rockets were not about to just wait until they find their missing shooting touch to make corrections.

“Oh no, no, no,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We got a lot of things we have to clean up. We’re not real sharp right now. I was just telling the guys the biggest thing is preseason was about 10 days shorter than (previously). With the preseason, we played eight games. That would be a normal preseason schedule.

“You watch teams around the league. I don’t think they were quite ready. There’s going to be some growing pains. We have new guys in the system. Chris Paul was in. Now, he’s out. We’re working through some issues. It’s a lot easier to work through them when you’re winning than when you’re losing.”

Because he doesn’t want to further shake the confidence of a team that is losing, D’Antoni said he gets on his players harder when they are winning. They heard plenty on Sunday.

“Don’t get complacent,” D’Antoni said. “We got to get better. We got to get a lot better. It’s got to start Monday because Memphis is going to come in. They D you up.”

Nothing can improve the Rockets offense more quickly than to start making the 3s they have missed. Only six teams average as many 3-point attempts as the Rockets have missed per game.

To change that, the Rockets said they need to get themselves and the ball moving more quickly.

“We can shoot the ball so much better as a group,” Rockets forward Ryan Anderson said. “We’re taking advantage of what we can do. Our halfcourt defense is really good right now. We need to be better in (offensive) transition. If we work on getting stops and running, getting those easier transition layups, once we get that down, really push the ball, you’ll see a big difference in our scoring.

“Just pushing the ball (after) getting stops, or even inbounding the ball quick, that’s when we’re at our best. Especially against Memphis, if we can run them, that’s when we’re going to be real good.”