Rockets News: Mike D'Antoni Rips 'Anemic' Offense After Loss to Thunder

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2018

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni looks up at the scoreboard during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

After ranking second in the NBA in scoring a season ago, the Houston Rockets' offense has yet to find its groove early on this season.

And head coach Mike D'Antoni is looking for answers.

"Really, our offense is anemic," D'Antoni said after Thursday night's 98-80 loss to the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "I mean, it's bad. ... I don't know if we're just sagging because we're not believing in what we're [doing]. I don't know. We've got to find the answers. I can't tell you today, 'Oh yeah, it's this,' and we'll solve it tomorrow. No, we've got to work through this and figure out what we need to do. But our offense right now is not very good."

Simply put, D'Antoni described the offense as "yuck."

As much as the offense may have struggled through the first nine games, Thursday night represented a new low. The Rockets shot just 37.8 percent from the floor and went 11-of-42 from three-point range. As a result, they scored more than 20 points in just one quarter, leading to a lopsided score.

As MacMahon points out, the sluggish start has put D'Antoni's squad in unfamiliar territory:

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

The Rockets scored their fewest point in coach Mike D'Antoni's tenure during their 98-80 loss to the Thunder. Houston has been held under 90 points three times in 10 games — matching their total from the previous two seasons combined.

Even as the rest of the league has seen an offensive explosion, the Rockets have failed to top the 100-point mark in five of the past seven games. Houston now ranks 27th in the league in scoring at 102.8 points per game, 25th in three-point percentage (32.7) and dead last in field-goal percentage (42.1).

While Chris Paul (16.8 points per game) is second on the team in scoring, he is shooting a career-low 39.3 percent from the field. The nine-time All-Star has been dealing with a right elbow injury since Oct. 26, and he is 0-of-13 from beyond the arc over his last three appearances.

He's not using that as an excuse, though, as he blames himself for the team's struggles.

"Man, part of it has probably gotta be, I ain't made no shots," Paul said after Thursday's loss, per MacMahon. "I mean, that'll probably help if you see some go through."

Combine Paul's struggles with 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony's 1-of-11 performance and the Rockets never stood a chance against the Thunder.

This is a Houston squad that lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency in the summer after coming within one game of the NBA Finals in the 2017-18 season. As strong of a career as Anthony has had, plugging him into the mix hasn't been a smooth transition.

For now, James Harden and Co. will have to try to work things out on the fly.

"It's tough," the reigning NBA MVP said on Thursday, according to MacMahon. "Anybody, any player in this league, if you've got open shots and they're not falling, it's going to mess with you a little bit. That's where we take each other to kind of get each other out of that funk and just keep the positive energy going."

Houston (4-6) will look to bounce back against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.


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