November 23, 2015 at 12:58 am

What in the world is wrong with the Houston Rockets?

Houston Rockets James Harden Dwight Howard

From the Western Conference Finals to this? The defense is gone, the shooting is lottery-level, the coach has been canned and six of the last seven games have been losses.

MK Bower joins Dave Hardisty at the Toyota Center to discuss the current reality for the Houston Rockets after they fell 107-102 to the New York Knicks, dropping to 3-6 on the year at home. We discuss the firing of Kevin McHale, the enigma that is James Harden and his mysterious effort level, Dwight Howard‘s leadership, the Ty Lawson struggle, the fate of Moreyball and how the Rockets can right the ship this season.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
November 18, 2015 at 9:06 am

Rockets fire coach Kevin McHale


The Houston Rockets have been absolutely awful, but I didn’t think they would take this step just yet.

The Rockets have fired coach Kevin McHale just eleven games into the 2015-16 season and coming off a year where McHale guided the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals. The move was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

The current assistants move up — JB Bickerstaff becomes the interim head coach with Chris Finch becoming the associate head coach, according to Woj.

A flustered Daryl Morey spoke to the media at a press conference on Wednesday

“We’re under the gun. We have to turn things around right now,” warned Morey. “It’s not just losing. It’s not just 4-7. It’s how we’re losing.”

The Rockets gave McHale a three-year, $12+ million fully guaranteed extension less than a year ago — and he followed that up by taking the Rockets to the West Finals last year.

But anyone who has watched the Rockets this season knows that something is seriously wrong with the team. The perimeter defense has been atrocious — to the point that at times it looked like the Rockets were not even trying — and the team has lost four straight games, many at home to squads that have no business beating the Rockets (much less destroying them).

Posted in Houston Rockets |
November 11, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Patrick Beverley: “I went to jail for EZ Tag”

Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

If you missed the biggest non-story of the day, Patrick Beverley was arrested today because he hadn’t paid his toll tag charges.

Pulled over this morning on Beltway 8 at Telephone Road by police, Beverley was arrested and taken to jail because a warrant was out for his arrest for “Operating a Motor Vehicle on Toll Road When Prohibited”.

Beverley spoke about it before tonight’s game against the Nets.

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged |
November 3, 2015 at 8:59 am

Some signs of life in Harden, Rockets

Ty Lawson Houston Rockets scores

James Harden in a historic shooting funk. Ty Lawson hesitant to be aggressive. Dwight Howard in and out of the lineup. Three straight 20-point losses to open the season. There were plenty of reasons for Rockets fans to be concerned going into a West battle against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder as 0-4 appeared to be on the horizon.

MK Bower joins Clutch at the Toyota Center after the Rockets stepped up big to get their first win of the season, a 110-105 win over the Thunder. We talk about Harden’s funk, what’s gone wrong for the Rockets this season, Lawson’s early reluctance and how some positive signs were finally visible in Monday’s big win.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
November 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

Chuck Hayes is finally back in Houston


Welcome back, Chuckwagon.

The Rockets brought back a familiar face on Sunday, signing forward/center Chuck Hayes before the Rockets were to take on the Miami Heat.

I can honestly say Hayes came to my mind Friday night when I was watching the Warriors absolutely pick apart the Rockets’ defense. The difference on pick-and-roll coverages was night and day and the four spot has been a big problem for the Rockets on both defense and rebounding.

Hayes was once an anchor of a strong Houston Rockets defense, having played here from 2005 to 2011. Hayes left for the Sacramento Kings as a free agent before the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. The undersized center had a deal at the time to stay in Houston, but the Pau Gasol trade fell through for “basketball reasons,” which changed the plans.

If the Rockets were getting the Chuck Hayes of those years, this would be a signficant addition. Limited offensively, Hayes was outstanding defensively in the post against fours and fives and showed a very high defensive IQ, something this current Rockets team has lacked at the power forward spot.

But that was then — can he give the Rockets anything now? Hayes, now 32, has looked overweight in stints with both the Kings and Raptors and mainly played spot minutes off the bench. The Clippers recently cut him. It may be Hayes’ leadership and defensive IQ that most impacts the team, but as a 15th roster spot, this looks like a needed move.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
October 30, 2015 at 9:05 am

Houston Rockets 2015-16 Arena Intro Video

The Houston Rockets laid an egg in their 2015-16 season opener, but they did reveal their new arena intro video for the 2015-16 season.

The Rockets usually go with two (maximum three) different intro videos throughout the season, usually switching it up in January or February before coming out with a playoff intro video at the end of the year. Here’s my recording of their initial offering from Wednesday night’s opener.

Version with Full Player Intros

Houston Rockets 2015-16 Arena Introduction Video

Posted in Houston Rockets |
October 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Houston Rockets: What’s gone right and wrong this preseason

Clint Capela Houston Rockets

Let’s be honest — this preseason has been hard to watch.

Much in the same way they treated Summer League, the Rockets have pulled numerous key players from games, making it difficult for the fans to get a good look at what’s new. This was highlighted best by a nationally-televised game against the Warriors where the Rockets sent eight of their top players home, rolling out Joshua Smith and Jeremy Tyler in the first quarter against last year’s title team.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed there were bigger questions for the Rockets to answer this preseason than ‘How does Will Cummings look?’, but that doesn’t mean we were completely in the dark. October 28th can’t come soon enough, but here’s what we’ve seen so far this preseason:

Now This Is New

Clint Capela
I don’t like to make projections very often based on preseason play — after all, Kelvin Cato is Scrooge McDucking over a sea of coins right now because of such a miscalculation — but one thing I can say with certainty: Clint Capela has progressed rapidly. He is a far better player than he was this time last year and looks bigger and more comfortable than he did just five months ago when he was making a surprise impact in the playoffs. Give it up for Daryl Morey and company here. The Rockets appear to have succeeded in filling a key rotation spot (backup center) and in adding an extremely valuable young player with a late first round pick — no easy task. Hands down, the biggest story of the preseason for me is Capela’s growth.

Ty Lawson, The Player
Though he has only played in four games with the Rockets, Ty Lawson looks sharp. The point guard is averaging 11.8 points on 53.1% shooting and 38.5% from three-point range in just over 24 minutes a night. If Lawson is hitting threes efficiently, this team has made a big jump with his addition.

Montrezl Harrell
A rookie big taken with the 32nd pick this past summer, Montrezl Harrell has a lot of learning still to do about the NBA game. Defensively he has been late to read, cover and rotate and hopefully this tightens up significantly as he adapts to this level of competition. But for some strange reason, this guy’s energy and in-your-face style gives me more hope for positive change at the power forward spot than anything else right now. The Rockets simply don’t get that gritty style of play from any other player at the position. He’s got long arms, a constant thirst to dunk the ball and likes to get out and run. By season’s end, Lawson may think he never left Kenneth Faried.

Ready To Roll

James Harden
Just give him the damn ball. James Harden hasn’t shot it well this preseason (37% FG, 29.7% 3P), but this isn’t the first time that’s happened for him. Harden reported to camp in strong physical condition and is moving and passing very well. He looks confident and ready to go.

Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer
It’s hard to separate these two. Both Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer appear to be in midseason form, knocking down shots, attacking the basket and doing what they do best — bullrushing the passing lanes. Combined, the Rocket small forwards averaged over 30 points a contest with Ariza hitting over 55% from the field. The wing spot is set.

Need More Data

Ty Lawson, The Team Impact
I think this image posted on our forums summed it up best. We did not get a good idea at all of what this team will look like with Lawson, Harden and Dwight Howard. We know that Lawson won’t really move the needle on the defensive side of the ball, so where is his impact most felt on offense? Does he make Howard more efficient? Does he create more open three-point shots for teammates? Does he take defensive pressure off Harden, or is his presence most felt when Harden is resting? We haven’t got a clear vision just yet.

Terrence Jones
I came out of Media Day believing that Terrence Jones was ready for a breakout. He looked very solid last season before a couple of fluke injuries and he will have the starting job back with Donatas Motiejunas beginning the season on the shelf. He talked about working on his outside shot this summer, and he hit 4-11 (36.4%) from three in the preseason, but all it took was one stretch of watching him get manhandled again by Draymond Green for me to take a step back. Jones will do well this season — I have no doubt about that — but if you saw him at all in the playoffs last year, you know he needs to step up against the big boys. That remains to be seen.

K.J. McDaniels
I’m not buying K.J. McDaniels just yet. The second-year wing has put up some plays for the highlight reel, unleashing chasedown blocks (like this and this) and throwdowns (like these) that get Vine spinning, but there’s only one problem — we already knew he could do all that from his stint with Philly. The question with K.J. is can he make outside shots? Can he make passes and keep the offense flowing? Can he make defensive rotations? I don’t think the preseason has given us anything new there and I struggle to see where McHale finds playing time for him right now, especially with a superior shooter and veteran in Marcus Thornton also available for those minutes. For me, McDaniels is more trade asset at the moment.


Sam Dekker
Rookie wing Sam Dekker has sucked… and that’s not my word choice. I watched Dekker every day in shooting drills for the first week of camp, clanging three after wide open three, and at one point he finally threw up his hands in frustration and yelled to himself, “You suck!” He has not impressed in preseason. Granted, that’s normal for a young player, but given his outside shot struggles, I think it might take awhile. I thought the Wisconsin product might have a chance to stick on the roster without a stay in the Valley, ala Chandler Parsons, but now I think he’s destined for some good time with the Vipers.

Dwight Howard
I’m a little troubled by the fact that the Rockets played Howard in only one game as there are plenty of reasons the team needs to get him spot minutes in the preseason after adding a key component like Lawson. It also appeared McHale wanted to experiment with a Twin Towers lineup (Howard-Capela) in the first game and we never got to see more of that. Yes, Howard looked springy in his short stint but this does raise a red flag for me in hoping that he will remain healthy all season. It’s more troubling when you consider that D-Mo, who filled in admirably with Dwight out last year, is still recovering from a back injury.

Patrick Beverley
Frankly, Patrick Beverley probably belongs in the “Need More Data” section, but I’m concerned. His defense waned last year and some of that could be attributed to injuries, but he hasn’t looked particularly sharp in the preseason and is shooting just 32.5% from the field and 31% from three-point range. It appears Lawson has won the starting job and I believe Bev will be fine, especially with reduced minutes potentially leading to increased intensity, but this is something to keep an eye on.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
October 11, 2015 at 8:27 pm

James Harden injures right knee in preseason game

James Harden knee injury

The NBA preseason. Yes, the meaningless games can serve a purpose for getting some run for lineups and a look at young players, but there’s a risk playing your big guns in games that don’t matter.

Sunday night, we saw that first hand. After accumulating 12 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block in 13 minutes, James Harden left the Rockets game against the Orlando Magic late in the first half after a collision with Evan Fournier on a fast break. The video shows Harden got hit on the right knee.

Harden was able to walk off on his own, but didn’t look happy at all. The team is calling it a “right knee contusion” and you just hope it’s nothing serious. We’ll know more soon enough.

Posted in Houston Rockets |