Rockets on importance of solid defense
The Rockets’ losing streak stopped at Seven.
Sure, that just happens to be the number of games the Rockets lost in a row before they beat the Bobcats in Charlotte on Monday afternoon. Before that, they hadn’t won since Jan. 8 against the Lakers.
But more important than the number seven, was the restaurant Seven. That was the rather appropriately named spot in downtown Minneapolis, the host city to the Rockets’ seventh straight loss, where the team full of young players talked openly about their problems and how to correct them.
“We were just trying to wash down that loss,” said newcomer Patrick Beverley, who joined the Rockets during the losing streak. “It was a real relaxed atmosphere. We just talked about what we needed to do to get better.”
At that dinner, the Rockets talked about what had been going wrong during the win streak that lasted well over a week. They also talked how to correct their mistakes.
It wasn’t some formal team meeting, not quite. It was just a dinner between teammates, friends, all trying to right the ship.
“It was open,” second-year forward Chandler Parsons said on Tuesday after practice. “If you have something to say, say something to your teammate. If you don’t think this guy is doing something right. We left it all out there and I think it’s good. Nobody’s hiding anything and the film doesn’t lie. We see who needs to do what and where we need to get better at. I think it’s good to get it all out there and speak your mind.”
Before the losing streak, the Rockets had won 10 of 12 to boost their record to 21-14. The seven-game slide has them hanging at .500 before they beat the Bobcats on Monday.
But after that hot stretch, the seven-game losing streak was hard to swallow. The Rockets' seven-game losing streak was their longest since 2006. They haven't lost more than seven in a row since 2001, when they lost 15 in a row. That was the longest streak since the team moved to Houston in 1971.
“When you lose games, it’s really a magnifying glass to what you’re doing wrong,” Parsons said. “Sometimes when you’re winning games, you overlook those things. So I feel like on the streak we had an opportunity to look ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘man, I’m not doing this. I’m not doing that.’ And I got 14 guys calling you out about it. That puts your back against the wall and it gets you in the right mindset, like, ‘man, these guys need me. I need to do my job.’”
So how important was the dinner meeting between teammates? Well, Patrick Patterson said he didn’t even remember the dinner specifically when asked about it on Tuesday but he said he was sure he was there. He joked there wasn’t anything else to do in Minnesota.
But Parsons said the dinner was important for the team. After all, the Rockets are a team full of young players. Even James Harden, who is the squad’s leader, is just 23. And he’s still getting used to his new role.
“We went through a tough stretch so everybody put their heads down a bit,” Harden said. “Being that this is a new role for me, I have to do a better job of leading them and telling them that this is a game, everybody goes through tough stretches. We have to figure out a way to get out of it.”
Whether through leadership, coaching, sheer luck or a team meal, the Rockets finally snapped their losing streak on Monday. Patterson called the win “ugly” and Harden said it wasn’t a good win. But it counted. And it might have started around a dinner table in Minneapolis.
“It’s big,” Parsons said about the dinner. “We’re going to go through tough times together, we’re going to go through great times together. Being such a young team. Being inconsistent sometimes is gonna hurt and sometimes that can pull a team together and it’s almost like teams get numb to losing and it doesn’t bother them as much and I think with us, it’s going to hurt us more to lose than it does us good to win.”