Several players were asked about any New Year’s resolutions they might be making this year. Dwight Howard said he makes the same one every year, he said he just wants to win a championship.
After the Rockets New Year’s Eve loss at Toyota Center to the Sacramento Kings, 110-106, thoughts in his locker room from Howard and his teammates were far from that.
“We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. This team has beaten us twice the same way and we didn’t learn from it. Until we do, we’re going to continue to lose.” Howard said. “There’s nothing to talk about anymore, everybody’s got to do their part, play defense. It starts on the perimeter. I’m not blaming it on nobody, we’ve all got to play defense better.
“We’ve got to learn at some point. As a team, collectively, we’ve got to learn how to finish these games off and start these games. Until we do, we’re going to keep losing to teams who don’t have a better record than us.
“We shouldn’t have let them stick around from the get go,” Howard added. “We allowed that to happen and they played with confidence in the second half, hit shots, got to the rim, got a good win.”
When asked about breakdowns on perimeter defense, being more about ability or effort, he responded, “Defense is all about effort.”
Effort was the key word tonight and has been for several other nights that resulted in similar losses, like their first loss to Sacramento or their 109-103 loss at Utah to start December on their 123-117 loss in Philadelphia a few weeks before that.
Houston allowed the Kings to shoot 50 percent in the first half take a 58-52 lead into intermission.
“We’ve got to come out with more thrust and more attack, defensively, too,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “We’re not playing at a level every single night that we’ve got to play at and that’s just energy and effort and all those things.
“We just talked about energy and effort and coming out and communicating and playing together,” McHale said about the team’s halftime conversation. “All the things we talk about all the time.”
James Harden had a season high 38 points and a season high 10 rebounds and all five starters scored in double figures, including 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting from Jeremy Lin and 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots from Terrence Jones.
“We didn’t come out with the urgency in the first half,” Lin said.” We have to come out and play harder and have to be more hungry. When things are going really well, you think you can get away with it and you get comfortable. This might be a blessing in disguise for us, we have a stretch coming up, hopefully we come out and we learn from this.”
The Rockets were able to grab the lead in the second half, and even pushed it out to eight points late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. But after taking a 104-101 lead with 100 seconds remaining, they allowed the Kings to score the next nine points and that handed the Rockets another loss they feel like are becoming all too familiar.
“Defensively, we’ve got to be better. We’re really good offensively, but we’re really, really good when we get stops and we can go out and get people off balance and go in transition,” Chandler Parsons said. “The more stops we get, the better our offense will be. I don’t know why we don’t do that every single possession, every single night.”
“We have leaders on this team, we’ll figure this out,” Parsons added. “It’s just frustrating losing to teams you shouldn’t lose to, on your home floor.”