The Rockets season and the Knicks’ relationship with Spike Lee both took a disturbing turn a week ago.
The Rockets came into Madison Square Garden last Monday having won six straight. The small-ball lineup they created by trading Clint Capela for Robert Covington at the deadline had gone from being mocked to appreciated.
The Knicks, in president Leon Rose’s first game, jumped out to a 21-point lead and held on for a 125-123 lead. The positive vibes surrounding that game were quickly erased by a mushrooming feud with their celebrity fan, which unfolded predictably the following day after Lee unloaded on the franchise for allegedly lying about their celebrity-entrance policy.
The Rockets, though, have not yet recovered. That loss has turned into four straight defeats, including falling behind 20-0 to the Hornets on Saturday night and trailing the Magic by 20-plus for much of Sunday’s 126-106 defeat.
Houston star James Harden said it feels “very strange” on the court right now and he has “no clue” why things are going so wrong. But he remains confident the Rockets can get back on track.
“We’re not really worried, just frustrated,” he said. “It seems like it’s just all going bad, but the way you get out of it is to keep pushing through, keep fighting through and the tide will turn around and we’ll make a turnaround.”
Houston trailed by 25 at halftime in another lackluster performance a day after falling behind 20-0 in a 108-99 loss at Charlotte. During their winning streak, the Rockets were looking to move up in the Western Conference standings and get one of the top three seeds. Now they’ve tumbled into sixth place in the West and need to find a way to get back on track before they fall even further with five weeks left in the regular season.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said he believes his team is “questioning everything” as things have started to snowball, but like Harden he believes the Rockets have the players to turn things around.
“We will get through this and we will be good on the other side,” D’Antoni said. “So hopefully this is rock bottom. I don’t know that, but if it gets much worse it will not be pretty.”
— With AP