The Rockets are breaking records, but not the kind you want to be breaking. Last night vs. the Heat, the first quarter ended with 46 – 14 for the Heat — the third-biggest lead after 12 minutes in the NBA’s shot-clock era, starting with the 1954-55 season.
On Feb. 4, 1987, the Los Angeles Lakers led the Sacramento Kings 40 – 4, and on Dec. 9, 1972, the Baltimore Bullets lead against the Kansas City-Omaha Kings 45-12 after one quarter. It’s not good when you are so bad Baltimore Bullets and Kansas City-Omaha Kings have to be mentioned.
To be clear, this was a perfect storm of bad things for the Rockets. Harden scored 29 points but was 6-14 from the field, 3-9 from three. Westbrook scored 10 points, 3-11 from the field, 1-6 from three – and finished the game with -46 +/- score. Even if you don’t understand or believe +/- is the perfect metric, that can’t be good.
The Rockets were always designed as an offensive powerhouse. If they can claw up to an above-average defense, they have a chance. As much as people doubted the Harden-Westbrook fit on offense, it seems the defensive end is the more significant issue. We are talking about two guys that were the most considerable liability of their teams on defense in previous seasons. It’s hard to win in the playoffs with one of such players, almost impossible with two.
One game (against the Wizards) is an anomaly. Two games is still not a pattern. What happens when we get to three? Mike D’Antoni’s comment tells you how confusing this issue is (via ESPN):
“We’re not in trouble,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said after his team fell to 3-3. “But if we think we’re not in trouble, then we’re in trouble — if that makes sense. You’ve got to have that appropriate fear and understand that it’s a new year and you don’t start with any games and we’ve got to work our way back.”
They’re kinda’ in trouble.