Dealing with adversity is nothing new for the Houston Rockets, so digging an 0-1 hole at home in the Western Conference Semi-Finals should not be a big deal for a team that recognizes their issues. Those issues were evident to everyone watching Monday as the Clippers simply outworked the sloppy Rockets, but it took a long film study for Kevin McHale’s team to see the source of the coach (and spectators) frustrations.
“It was beneficial to watch, you know, the lethargic efforts that we were giving, and not being to come out being able to come out with multiple efforts, second and third efforts. I think watching them play when I watched the game, they made multiple efforts, and we made that initial effort, and then it was non-existent at that point,” Josh Smith told the media Wednesday.
Proof of the non-existent effort is in the offensive rebound column. The Rockets 45.2% shooting night yielded only 6 offensive rebounds out of the 46 shots missed. In addition to the 40 times the Clippers got the ball back after one look, Houston gave up 34 points on 24 turnovers to a Los Angeles team playing without Chris Paul.
“We feel like we let one slip away because of our mistakes turning the ball over,” Trevor Ariza said. Ariza credited the Clippers aggressiveness for taking the Rockets out of their game, “Even though they were down a player, they didn’t care. They still came out and played with that hunger and intensity, and we need to do the same thing and be more hungry, especially since we are at home.”
Smith, whose post game comments were seen by some as calling out teammate James Harden by saying the Rockets were playing “hero ball”, indirectly addressed the accusations when discussing the benefit of a veteran team in this situation. “It’s big (having seven players with playoff experience). Just to be able to have that short memory, and also, you know, be able to police each other for the mistakes we made without anyone taking it personally,” Smith said.
As a position group, the big men are taking responsibility for their role in the loss and Blake Griffin’s triple double seriously holding a “bigs only” meeting after Wednesday’s shoot around. “It’s always good to be able to reinforce what we need to do on the court…,” Smith explained, “at the end of the day, we want to be able to, as bigs, hold ourselves accountable for what we can control and nothing else.”
“We gotta help our bigs out. The guards gotta rebound. We can’t just let him (Griffin) get easy position. It was too easy for him last game. We gotta make it tough on him.” Corey Brewer said. Brewer’s key to the Rockets rising above Monday’s embarrassing effort, “It’s all about staying together. We gotta stay together. We gotta play together, but tonight’s, like you said, basically a must win. For us, we gotta go out, we gotta get a win, and everything is okay.”
With Chris Paul being a game time decision and unlikely to play for Doc Rivers and company, Houston may just get a do over and redeem themselves from an embarrassing performance tonight at 8:30 before heading to LA.
Follow Leslie on Twitter @LK_Comm.
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