Unlike Lakers, Rockets feed off friendship
While the Lakers come into town saying off-court friendships shouldn't affect on-court play, the Rockets are singing a different tune to more success.
Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni told the media this weekend, "Whether you're happy or not, it doesn't really matter. Play as hard as you can. You don't have to love each other."
Dwight Howard told reporters, "We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don't want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table."
In other words, the Lakers are trying to forge a working relationship on the floor, no matter the relationship off the floor. The Lakers have lost four of their last five games.
Meanwhile, the Rockets have won four straight. Anybody following the team can see these guys enjoy each others' company.
"One through 15, we love each other," Greg Smith said.
"It's like a brotherhood, you know," he continued. "We're just going to stick together and fight. This whole year? It's about us. It's 15. We're going to fight until the end."
"I think the best teams are the ones that really play for each other," Jeremy Lin said. "I'm always a big believer that the closer you are off the court, the better you are on the court, and I think that's where we're getting to.
"I think we've definitely gotten comfortable with each other off the court and that definitely helps on the court. Trusting, making plays for each other, things like that."
"You're beginning to see it now," Smith said. "We trust each other more on the court. We know where to pass the ball. We know where to cut."
The Rockets have made a distinct effort to spend time together. Teammates have dinner with one another. Patrick Patterson organized a party to welcome in the rookies. James Harden gave all his teammates personalized Skull Candy headphones.
"Our chemistry is definitely growing," Harden said. "It's taken us some time, but I'm thinking the more we hang out off the court, the better our chemistry will be on the court. So it's taken some time, but I think these last few games, the past few weeks, we've done a better job of playing on the court as one unit."