It seems like Dwight Howard needs a hug.
Per CSN Houston's Adam Wexler, Howard said:
It was piss-poor effort out there on defense and offense. The ball stuck tonight and we didn’t move it and we can’t win that way.
They just played harder than us. It’s got to be important for guys to come out and play the same way every night. Guys have to come out and play, no matter how many guys are out. (Guys need) to play as hard as you can and trust the next guy to come in and play the same way. They outworked us.
If we consider Howard's words in a vacuum, he's got a point. The Rockets have now lost two straight games to teams that have no business competing with them. The Utah Jazz took it to Houston on Dec. 2, and the Suns did the same two days later.
Regardless of the Rockets' myriad injury problems (Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Greg Smith didn't play against Phoenix), they should have enough talent to take care of both of those teams.
As the club's highest-paid player, Howard bears some responsibility for rallying the troops. So, there's not really anything wrong with what he said. There is, however, a huge problem with how he said it.
You can tell from watching the clip that D12 appears to be on the verge of tears throughout his postgame interview. He speaks quietly, with a resigned tone that belies a "woe is me" attitude. It's the same kind of melodramatic shtick he pulled at times with the Los Angeles Lakers last year, and the act hasn't gotten any more convincing in the intervening months since he departed Hollywood.
Maybe Howard really is down in the dumps. Maybe the loss to the Suns cut him to his emotional core. If that's the case, he's not displaying the kind of hardened, mature makeup that the Rockets hoped he'd bring to his third NBA stop.
More likely, though, D12 is hungry for attention. And turning into "Emo Dwight" has always been a good way for him to get some.
Somebody ought to inform him that the Rockets still have the league's fourth-best net rating, per NBA.com and are comfortably on the short list of legitimate contenders, per NBA.com.
Then again, he doesn't seem like a guy who wants to be cheered up.