Even amid jokes about Carmelo Anthony’s cursed presence, nobody could have predicted that the Houston Rockets would be second-to-last in the Western Conference at this point in the season. They’re a dismal 11-14, second only to the Phoenix Suns and their abominable 4-23 record, and players like Eric Gordon have been openly expressing frustration with the team’s lack of success.
“I’m just not having fun man. This sucks,” he told Kelly Iko of The Athletic Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude?”
Not yet, apparently. The Rockets lost to the Dallas Mavericks, who are an impressive 13-11 after coming into the season with lower-than-some expectations. James Harden put up 35 points and Chris Paul contributed 23, but ultimately Luka Doncic and the entire Mavs team worked together to beat the Rockets by 3 points. Six of nine Mavs players were in double figures, proving that winning games is about more than just having a few superstars.
Rockets Will Face the Portland Trail Blazers Tonight
The Portland Trail Blazers are hanging tight at 7th place in the West with their 15-11 record, far above teams like the Rockets, Jazz, Timberwolves, and Pelicans who were expected to maybe be in that spot or higher.
Damian Lillard is consistently putting up about 27 points per game (he had 28 against the Timberwolves last week and 33 against the Mavs on December 4th), and CJ McCollum is averaging 21. The two guards have a solid supporting cast in Jusuf Nurkic–who averages 15 PPG himself, along with 10.6 rebounds–and Al-Farouq Aminu, and they’ll be looking to get their third win in a row against this downtrodden Houston Team.
The Rockets’ defense is ranked 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions (112.2), and inexplicable losses have become what’s expected for the former finals contender. They’ve dropped seven of their last nine games, three of which were part of a winless three-game road trip. They’ll be hosting the Blazers tonight, so hopefully, they can reap the benefits of a “homecourt advantage” that’s been so far nonexistent–they’re 5-5 at home, which is just barely less bleak than their 6-9 road record.
“We can’t obviously continue to lose,” said veteran point guard Chris Paul, whose field goal percentage (43.1) is his lowest since his rookie season. “We’ve got to win games.”
They do indeed. But something is up with the Rockets. If they can’t turn things around they might not even make the playoffs, let alone be a contender.
The two teams will face off tonight at 7:00 pm CST.