The Houston Rockets dropped their third straight game with a 116-103 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, and several members of the organization didn't pull punches when assessing the team's shortcomings entering the All-Star break.
"We're broken. It's that simple," interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said, according to KPRC-TV's Adam Wexler. "We all need to use this break to figure out how we're going to impact change."
In addition to losing three games in a row, the Rockets have dropped six of their last eight overall and sit at 27-28—a half-game out of the Western Conference's No. 8 seed.
"It's a fragmented bunch," Bickerstaff added, per Wexler. "You can't win that way."
Veteran guard Jason Terry agreed.
"The chemistry is not where you like it," Terry said, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen. "I've seen worse. It's not functioning as a unit. Do we like to play with each other?"
Eric Ringering of 750 The Game relayed another sound bite from Terry, who continued to voice frustration with Houston's inability to mesh on the court:
Wednesday's loss was especially bad because it was the second time in the span of four days that Houston got romped by Portland. On Feb. 6, the Blazers captured a 96-79 victory on Houston's home court as the Rockets turned in their worst offensive performance of the season.
The Rockets' 2015-16 season has been defined by harsh ebbs and flows.
After head coach Kevin McHale was canned Nov. 18, the Rockets posted back-to-back 9-7 records in December and January. However, January ended on a sour note as Houston lost five of its final eight games, including a 130-99 blowout to the San Antonio Spurs.
|Season Segment||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
|Before Nov. 18 (McHale)||98.5||106.5||-8.0|
|After Nov. 18 (Bickerstaff)||105.7||106.4||-0.8|
Now, a year removed from a Western Conference finals appearance, the Rockets are spiraling with the trade deadline a week away and questions surrounding the core's long-term potential.
Dwight Howard will be able to test free agency this summer if he declines his $23.2 million player option for next season, and USA Today's Sam Amick previously reported the center is expected to do just that.
But even if Howard has a change of heart, the Rockets aren't in an enviable position. Howard and James Harden are the team's only real cornerstone-caliber players, and the Western Conference has a clear upper crust Houston will have a hard time cracking as currently assembled.
With the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder separating themselves from the rest of a fragmented Western Conference, the Rockets are firmly in danger of becoming also-rans.