The virus of complacency invaded the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, with their recent run of dominant play yielding a casual approach to a short-handed opponent that often fells excellent teams believing that a switch can be flipped when the mood or moment strikes.
The Rockets (15-4) found that gear against the New York Knicks at Toyota Center, but only after sleepwalking through the opening half of the first quarter and falling into a 22-point hole.
Houston clawed its way out with relative ease, leading by as many as 23 points en route to a 15-point victory, but the danger was clear. The Rockets are good enough to coast against middling or poor teams with relatively few consequences aside from the optics of inconsistent effort.
"For a while I didn't know who the turkeys were; I thought it was us," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said, offering a timely Thanksgiving analogy. "It's going to happen. It wasn't pretty, but the flip side is the second quarter we allowed 22 points, third quarter 13 points. So, they got the job done.
"Psychologically sometimes when they're missing players like (Kristaps) Porzingis and (Enes) Kanter, you come out not quite ready to roll. And they got guys that can really score, and we tried to let them off the hook a little bit."
With the Brooklyn Nets (7-12) paying a visit to Toyota Center on Monday night, the Rockets again could face the challenge of mustering intensity against an inferior foe. >> Read more
Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press