The Houston Rockets don’t play defense well. There are a lot of reasons why one of the preseason favorites to win the West has just lost its fourth straight game, a 111-96 shellacking at home by the mediocre Boston Celtics. But all the other reasons — turnovers, lack of energy, offensive discombobulation — are subservient to that first sentence: the Houston Rockets don’t play defense well. The Celtics average ten points fewer than they managed against the Rockets — and upping a team’s points-per-game average is a favor the Rockets are gifting to just about every team they play.
Last year the James Harden-led Rockets didn’t lose three in a row all season, despite some hard hits with injuries including Dwight Howard’s long absence. Now the Rockets are 4-7 overall and 2-5 at home, where they’ve played nearly twice as many games as on the road. They’ve lost three games by 20 and another by 18. A fan only has to watch the Rockets for a few minutes to see why. Other NBA teams are talented — all of them (even the 76ers). And if you don’t try to play defense your team is going to lose. Houston is giving up 108.3 points a game, 28th in the NBA.