Assessing Houston Rockets Coaching Staff's Early Season Performance

Vinny HardyCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2012

Mar, 13, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson and Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets continue to ride the nice wave of momentum that they are on. The 2012-13 NBA season has had and will have its fair share of ups and downs.

Houston is about as up as a young team can be right now.

The season is a third of the way over and the premise of this article is to assess the performance of the coaching staff. In this regard, right or wrong, fair or not, I have to lean in the direction of being lenient.

I know the NBA is a cutthroat business, just as every professional sport is. The only thing that matters is the bottom line, wins outnumbering losses. It is a results-based profession.

If the results aren't sufficient, then it is ultimately the NFL for everybody just like Jerry Glanville said.

When you step back and consider the tragic loss Kevin McHale has had to deal with in losing his daughter Sasha at the age of 23, everything pales in comparison. As a new parent of two small children I can't imagine how that feels. It can only get more difficult as the years of being a parent go on, and the child grows as the it moves to young adulthood as Sasha had.

This loss affected the entire staff. There's no way around it. Kelvin Sampson, J.B. Bickerstaff, Chris Finch, Dean Cooper, Jesse Mermuys and Greg Buckner were each affected.

They saw their roles had to change while Coach McHale was away from the team to be with Sasha.

There are always things that can be second guessed and questioned when following one's favorite team. Toney Douglas getting playing time at the end of games seemed odd a few weeks ago. Terrence Jones being sent back and forth between Houston and Rio Grande Valley is another one.

The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls lost a game to the Denver Nuggets, who were 35-47 that season. Phil and MJ had a perplexing off night for some reason. Obviously, I'm not saying that these Rockets are equal to those Bulls. I'm just saying that if you look hard enough it's easy to question the performance of any coaching staff at some point and time.

Despite all that's gone on this season, this staff has Houston at 16-12 and riding a five-game winning streak. They are currently the No. 6 seed which would pit them, as of now, against the No. 3 seed San Antonio Spurs.

This staff has done a pretty good job under the circumstances.

Coincidentally, the Spurs are next on the Rockets schedule. Losses are losses, but Houston has gradually closed the gap against San Antonio this season. Back on Dec. 7, San Antonio rolled to a 114-92 victory, three days later on Dec. 10, Houston fell 134-126 in overtime.

It will be interesting to see what McHale and his staff have planned for Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker this time around.

All stats are accurate as of 12/28/12.