D’Antoni cites ‘lack of spirit’ with Rockets on brinkon September 11, 2020 at 5:50 am

Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni offered a simple explanation for his team’s terrible performance through three and a half quarters of Thursday’s 110-100 Game 4 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Just a lack of spirit,” D’Antoni said. “It just seems like we got down. We lost our way a little bit.”

The loss put the Rockets on the brink of elimination, as the Lakers took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Houston displayed an alarming lack of energy, failing to score a second-chance or fast-break point in the first three quarters of the game. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Rockets are the first team to achieve that dubious distinction in a playoff game since at least 1997, the earliest that play-by-play information is available.

How could the Rockets be so flat with so much at stake?

“That’s a good question,” said Rockets star James Harden, who scored 16 of his 21 points from the free throw line, shooting 2-of-11 from the floor.

The Lakers’ lead ballooned to 23 points midway through the fourth quarter before the Rockets made a too-little, too-late 22-4 run to pull within five points in the final minute in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Rockets pointed to their effort during the comeback bid as a reason for hope, but they were puzzled and disappointed by their dreadful showing for most of the night.

“I don’t have an explanation for you,” said Rockets co-star Russell Westbrook, who scored 25 points in the loss. “Should have been a sense of urgency on everybody’s part, but we fought [in the fourth quarter], which is good, and we know what we have to do. It’s going to take a lot of effort.

“It’s going to take everyone being uncomfortable in their role and making sure we understand we all have to sacrifice some of the things we love to do. But we have to scramble. That gives us the best chance to win games.”

The Lakers opted to match up with the Rockets by playing small, benching centers JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard, and still dominated the rebounding battle by a 52-26 margin. Through three quarters, the Rockets’ starters grabbed only 11 rebounds, a total matched by both of the Lakers’ superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Lakers finished with a 62-24 edge in points in the paint, a 38-point margin that matched the second largest in the play-by-play era, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now,” Harden said. “We’ve just got to get ready for Game 5.”

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *