It’s rock bottom for the Rockets.
As James Harden shows why he was worth all those draft picks for the Nets, the Rockets have crashed without their superstar.
The latest embarrassment came in a 112-96 loss on Wednesday night against the lowly Cavaliers, which was the team’s ninth straight defeat. Six of those nine losses have been by double digits.
“Our defense wasn’t good and our offense was disjointed,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said afterward in a brief press conference. “It wasn’t very good all around.”
Ironically, it was another piece of that Nets-Rockets-Pacers-Cavaliers blockbuster trade that made the difference in this one, with Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen going for 26 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks.
“At 22 years old, Jarrett is not near his potential ceiling — and that’s the part I’m most excited about,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He plays off his teammates well and he knows they’re looking for him.”
Trading away Harden, who forced the team into the deal, is just the start of the Rockets’ woes. Their three key players — John Wall, Victor Oladipo and Christian Wood — have all missed time with injuries.
Harden, who is averaging 25 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds a night for the Nets, has played in 19 of 20 games since coming to Brooklyn. His versatility — he played in over 70 games in 11 of his 12 seasons — has been an overlooked part of his greatness.
The Rockets were actually thriving in the immediate aftermath of the trade, winning seven of eight games to reach 11-10. But the final win of that streak, Wood suffered a severely sprained ankle that has sidelined him since.
“I’m used to playing with a traditional big that rolls and pops, just like John is, but we’ve got to figure out a way to win,” Oladipo said, citing the specialty of the 6-foot-10 Wood, who has been a revelation in his first season in Houston.
Wood said he thought the ankle was broken at first, and hopes to be back soon.
“It was definitely hard to deal with, at first,” Wood said of the injury. “But then when I found out the news that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed, I was grateful and thankful. It could’ve been worse.”
It can’t get much worse for the Rockets right now, though.