Disappointment comes in many forms, and on Saturday at Toyota Center, both the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets will seek to distance themselves from efforts best described as poor.
The Nets on Thursday fumbled the momentum of winning three of their previous four games by shooting a miserable 26.9 percent, the worst mark in the league this season, in their 94-82 home loss to the crosstown Knicks at Barclays Center.
According to Elias Sports, the Nets’ eight 2-point field goals were the fewest in an NBA game since 1950. Yet, Brooklyn shot better inside the arc (8 of 28) than from behind it, missing 37 of 50 attempts from deep in the opener of a three-game road trip that includes stops in Minnesota and Dallas.
Three Brooklyn players attempted at least 10 shots while making three or fewer: Joe Harris (3 for 12), Garrett Temple (2 for 10) and Taurean Prince (1 for 10). Excluding his 25-point performance on 10-for-19 shooting against Atlanta on Dec. 21, Temple is 6 for 36 over his three previous contests. Prince is shooting 25 percent (23 for 92) over his previous eight games.
“Those guys will get it back,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It’s like a baseball player: Sometimes you go five or six games and you’re swinging. I trust those guys, I trust how they shoot. We’re going through a bad stretch right now, but we’ve had other guys pick them up.
“It can’t be those guys every night, but we had a lot of guys off. Just collectively we were off. I don’t think anybody was in rhythm, including myself.”
The Rockets’ shooting was similarly errant on Christmas, with everyone excluding James Harden combining to miss 54 of 82 shot attempts in a stunning 116-104 loss to the injury-ravaged Warriors. The non-Harden Rockets also hit just 10 of 41 on 3s to surrender the positive momentum generated by a stretch of six wins in seven games that included an impressive road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers the previous Thursday.
“A lot of great opportunities that we just didn’t convert on,” Harden said. “It’s pretty simple.”
That was a similar refrain for the Rockets, who can intermittently resemble title contenders while also dropping four consecutive games to teams with losing records. The Warriors took a familiar approach defending Harden, trapping him far away from the basket with the intention of forcing his teammates to step up in his stead. In this instance, that gambit worked to perfection.
“Good luck, though, trying to do that,” said Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, who shot 11 for 32.
Blanching at the suggestion they were outwitted is a common response from these Rockets, whose inconsistency is as much a calling card as their commitment to 3-pointers and layups. Presented an opportunity to complete a 4-0 road trip and head back to Toyota Center with an air of legitimacy enveloping them, the Rockets instead stubbed their toes and sought solutions.
The result in San Francisco was disappointing. In Houston, the Rockets will seek solace.
“For us, we’ve got to regroup, and we finally go home,” Harden said. “We’ve been on the road for a week. Finally, go home and get some home-court (advantage).”
–Field Level Media