The fast start to the season by the Houston Rockets, and more specifically by James Harden, was talked about by the rest of the NBA for a hot minute.
But now? That hot minute appears to have passed.
After a 102-91 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena, what we have is Harden, Chandler Parsons and a collection of young players who are going to take their lumps.
The Rockets have talent. Harden was sick and played limited minutes. Jeremy Lin was good getting into the lane, but didn't shoot well. Patrick Patterson can be a very good player once his game matures. But the Western Conference is an unforgiving and deep bunch of veteran-laden teams that don't allow for many mishaps. The Rockets learned that once again on Monday night.
"I liked the fight our team has tonight, but the first half was just too loose," acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "One thing about this team is that we have to continue to work at and believe that we can score by moving the ball."
Houston played the second half of a back-to-back against the Jazz, and that contributed to a lack of transition defense. Utah 30 fast-break points. The Jazz outscored the Rockets in the paint, and hurt Houston with second-chance points.
Without Harden creating offense, the Rockets couldn't find many open looks on the perimeter. And with no scoring presence in the lane outside of Patterson, Houston couldn't find easy points on any given possession.
Patterson led the Rockets with 19 points, but grabbed only one rebound. Parsons, a 6-foot-10 small forward, scored 11 points, grabbed 10 boards and handed out five assists.
"We couldn't get back in transition," Patterson said. "We couldn't rebound the ball well, and we just started to get a little bit selfish on the offensive end. Seemed like players were trying to make plays in order to get back into the game, rather than just going with the system. We got down and pretty much the rest of the game was a dogfight, trying to get back into the game."
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