Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
The Houston Rockets enjoyed a 65-win season that saw them come within one game of the NBA Finals in 2017-18, but as they have struggled to the tune of an 11-13 start this season, there’s a different vibe around the team.
“I’m just not having fun man,” Houston guard Eric Gordon told The Athletic’s Kelly Iko after Thursday night’s 118-91 loss to the Utah Jazz. “I’m just not. This sucks. Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude?”
It wasn’t that long ago that the Rockets won 8-2 over a 10-game stretch, thanks in large part to a five-game winning streak. However, they have followed that up by losing six of eight, including the last two. As a result, they currently sit in 13th place in the Western Conference.
Houston already has four multiple-game skids, already surpassing last season’s total of three. Not only that, but the Rockets have already had to endure a pair of four-game losing streaks, something last year’s squad dealt with only once.
The inability to shake off rough performances is what makes this group different from last season’s.
“Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team,” Gordon added, per Iko. “We just never had a bad moment. If we ever had a bad game as a team, you knew the next game we would blow somebody out. It didn’t matter who it was.”
It’s difficult for teams not named the Golden State Warriors to maintain that level of success on a year to year basis. Especially when there is roster turnover. This past offseason, Houston lost both Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. Meanwhile, the Carmelo Anthony signing fizzled out after just 10 games.
Add all of that up and it’s easy to see why the Rockets have come out of the gates slow.
Gordon is also likely frustrated by his numbers being down nearly across the board. His 15.9 points per game would be his lowest since 2015-16, and his field-goal percentage (36.5), three-point percentage (31.1) and assists (1.8) are all the lowest of his career.
It’s only the first week of December, so there’s still plenty of time for Gordon and Houston to get their season on track. In order to do that, though, Gordon believes he and his teammates should take notes from the 2017-18 Rockets, a squad that ranked second in the league in scoring.
“Look how they’re playing, that’s how we used to play,” Gordon told Iko. “Sharing the ball, getting up and down and attacking. We’re not doing that anymore.”
Houston will have its first opportunity to try to regain its old form on Saturday when it hits the road for a Texas showdown against the Dallas Mavericks.