HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- With 46 seconds left on the clock Jalen Green capped a 14-point third quarter with a right-handed reverse layup from the left side of the rim.
The Rockets had trimmed a 17-point halftime deficit to six, and they’d go into the fourth quarter within striking distance unless disaster struck. Well, Disaster struck.
Six seconds later, the Kings took advantage of the Rockets' porous transition defense.
They had numbers back, and the Rockets stopped the ball, but no one accounted for Trey Lyles in the left corner. He cut to the rim for an easy dunk and received a pass for an easy dunk.
After the Rockets came up empty on their ensuing trip, Fox drove left but Josh Christopher wandered too far away from his man, Malik Monk. Fox took advantage, and found Monk for a wide open three.
In the blink of an eye the Rockets were down by 11, and all the hard work that went into clawing back in the game was wasted.
“Those are demoralizing,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said Tuesday. “Those are the things that good teams definitely do to keep pressure on you, and those are the things that we have to learn as a group that we can't allow to happen. Those are mistakes.
“Not sprinting back and not seeing the back cut. How many times do we get back cut last night? Too many, and then the over-help was just a shell defensive concept that we missed.”
Both plays were among the ones discussed during a film session around 15 hours following Monday’s 140-120 loss to the Sacramento Kings, after which, Silas ripped his team’s effort during his postgame press conference.
“He was completely right,” Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate said. “We have to do a better job on defense, and we’ve shown that we can be way better defensively, so we just have to get back to doing that.”
Silas said there were a lot of head nods during Tuesday’s film sessions and a lot of “you’re right” and “my bad”, so he is confident that his message cracked through.
“Film doesn’t lie,” Tate said. “Just seeing our body language, our posture is a wake-up call because sometimes you don't see certain things, you think you're playing hard, but the film shows that we have a lot more years and levels that we can get to, and we're hoping to do that tomorrow.”
The Rockets will get a rematch with the Kings on Wednesday in what will be the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season. Sacramento won the first three meetings by at least 20 points, so for the Rockets, Wednesday’s game is about more than just rebounding from a bad 48 minutes on Monday, it’s about showing one of the best teams in the West they are better than what they’ve shown.
“Just a pride type of thing,” Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr said. “They can't come in our house and just do whatever they want, score 140 points and just be so comfortable, so it's just our job to make it tough on them, to just play with a lot more energy. Houston deserves that. We deserve that, so just play hard.”
Houston is 28th in defensive rating this season and has allowed 293 points over the last two games.