Mike D'Antoni Says Rockets' Lack of Depth a 'Problem' After Loss vs. Mavericks

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC -  NOVEMBER 26:  Head Coach Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets looks on prior to the game against the Washington Wizards on November 26, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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As the Houston Rockets dropped their fourth straight contest on Wednesday night, coach Mike D'Antoni believes the latest defeat is at least partly due to the team's current lack of depth.

"Obviously, it's a problem," D'Antoni said after a 128-108 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon. "It's something that I know that the front office tried to address. They're going to do the best they can. No blame going around; it's just the way it is."

Houston took the floor on Wednesday without the services of starting point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) and reserve Gerald Green (ankle), with backup center Nene Hilario (calf) still yet to make his season debut. And of course, veteran forward Carmelo Anthony has been away from the team since Nov. 8 as the two sides look for a potential suitor.

The Rockets have now played five games since last Wednesday, Nov. 21, and two of their four games since Friday have gone to overtime, including Monday night's 135-131 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Against Dallas, a total of 10 players entered the game for Houston, with seven recording 20-plus minutes. All five starters played at least 32 minutes. After having averaged 44 minutes over the previous three games, James Harden led the way with 37 minutes on Wednesday.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead and took an 18-point advantage into the locker rooms. The Rockets cut the deficit down to just seven by the end of the third, but it would not get any closer before they ran out of steam.

With the game well in hand in the fourth, D'Antoni opted to rest his starters to close things out.

It wasn't the greatest of shooting nights for Houston, as the team shot just 28.9 percent from beyond the arc and 65.2 percent from the line. While the Mavs got 61 points off their bench, the Rockets managed just 25 points, with 18 coming from Danuel House Jr.

The latest loss drops Houston to 9-11 on the season, a mark that puts it second-to-last in the Western Conference. Reminder: This is a team that finished with the best record (65-17) in all of basketball a season ago and was just one game from the NBA Finals.

However, the offseason losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, combined with the unsuccessful Melo experiment, have challenged the team's depth even before injuries became a factor.

The good news for Houston is that both Paul and Green are expected to be available for Friday's game against the San Antonio Spurs, per MacMahon. If that's the case, the team's rotation becomes drastically improved.

"Then our depth is pretty good," D'Antoni said. "We've got everybody a couple of rungs up. We've got rookies playing as the sixth or seventh man. They should be ninth, 10th men. They would be OK every once in a while, but when you rely on them, it's tough. And it's not their fault. They're going to develop. Again, we're just going to have to knock on wood and make sure they stay healthy."

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