The Rockets have a pretty simple offensive philosophy and they don't even try to hide it from the opposition. They want Dwight Howard to get a lot of touches and they want to score the vast majority, of their points in one of three ways, layups, free throws and 3-pointers.
They just finished a five-game homestand during which they tied their season high for points in the paint in two of the five games. Throughout the month of January they have maintained their position atop the league in number of free three attempts per game. But they have also been firmly entrenched in the bottom third of the league in 3-point accuracy for much of the season.
Houston is connecting on just 34.4 percent of their 3-pointers, which ranks just 23rd in the NBA, while their 26.4 attempts per game are tops in the league. As they try to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season when they host San Antonio on Tuesday night, they are keenly aware of their 3-point shooting malaise.
"I think it's (on) us," James Harden said. "We're not really making shots. Our confidence level is a little bit down. Sometimes shooting goes, sometimes it doesn't. For the most part we've been doing a pretty good job of moving the basketball and creating opportunities for each other.
"Sometimes guys are not confident in their shot at that moment," Harden added. and passing up some open shots and that leads to other things. We just have to take our shots and have confidence in them. Sometimes we've taken bad or contested shots, there also can be better shots taken. (When) somebody takes a contested shot and somebody else is available, obviously we get on that person, but for the most part, like I said, we try to create opportunities for each other.
"We have to break people down, he have to make plays for others. Take one hard dribble, draw two and kick, and wide open shots happen after that. We weren't doing the little things against Memphis. We weren't driving and attracting two or three (defenders). We were driving and shooting bad shots or just standing on the perimeter. We just shot long shot after long shot and never got the ball in the paint. We lead the league in paint points. When we're getting in the paint, good things happen."
Chandler Parsons is the only member of the current Rockets rotation shooting better than 40 percent on 3-pointers. Even his 40.1 percent shooting would dip to 36.8 if not for his NBA record setting, 10 consecutive 3-pointers he made in the second half of their 88-87 loss to Memphis on Friday night. In half of the team's last 16 games, they've made less than 30 percent of their 3-pointers. They've made at least 50 percent of their 3-pointers in just one of their last 29 games. Maybe that's the good news though, since it came against San Antonio in the Rockets, 11-98 win on Christmas day.