Mike D'Antoni: Rockets' Ship 'Getting Rocked Right Now' After Loss to Blazers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2020

Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni shouts to players during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Atlanta. Houston won 122-115. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis/Associated Press

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni admitted Wednesday he's concerned about the team's "collective spirit" following a 117-107 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

"No, it's a concern. But to me, the focus is not on getting it right," D'Antoni told reporters. "The focus is more on looking at the back of the jersey instead of the front. We just need to get over it, and we will.

"Every ship gets rocked sometimes. We're getting rocked right now. Two weeks ago, if you would have asked, we were in a great place team-wise. It's that delicate of a thing. You've got to be careful, and right now, we're shaky; but we have veterans that will right the ship up."

Wednesday's loss marked the Rockets' third in their past four games, their worst stretch since a three-game losing streak in late November.

Houston is fifth in the Western Conference with a 26-14 record, which gives it an 8.5-game cushion over the ninth-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the playoff race. Yet the team's goals are much higher than merely making the postseason, which led to a team discussion after losing to Portland.

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"Everybody's their own person and feels some type of way about whatever's going on, individually and as a unit," James Harden said. "So you speak about it and get it off your chest."

Harden explained the overall tone of the meeting was "play harder," to which backcourt mate Russell Westbrook agreed: "Simple as that: Play hard."

The oddsmakers remain bullish on the Rockets' upside despite their middling place in the playoff picture. Houston (+400) has the third-best odds to win the West behind only the Los Angeles Lakers (+140) and Los Angeles Clippers (+150), per Caesars Sportsbook.

Harden, Westbrook and Co. have a difficult stretch ahead with six of their next eight games against current West playoff teams in the Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks.

It's a chance to get back on track by recording some statement wins, or else their recent skid could turn into a prolonged slump by the end of January.

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