The Houston Rockets started the season in underwhelming fashion, losing each of their first three games by 20 points, an NBA record. Never in the history of the league had anyone started the season losing three games in a row by 20 or more. The team that got to the Conference Finals last year didn’t look like a playoff team at all, so all eyes were on James Harden to turn things around – quickly. Harden did not disappoint, leading the Rockets to four straight victories, including a road win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
It is clear that Houston goes only as far as Harden will take them. In the three losses, Harden averaged 18 PPG while shooting an abysmal 22% from the floor. Luckily for the Rockets, he found his mojo again and in the four consecutive wins, he averaged 38.5 points.
Harden leads the league in field goal attempts and free throw attempts, and is a close second in three point attempts per game, a clear indication Harden is taking more than his share of shots. Some of those shots will have to go to Dwight Howard. Howard is shooting 63.6% from the field, but he is only getting 11 shots per game – partly because he is on a minute restriction.
The main issue for the Rockets this early in the season has been their ineffectiveness from behind the arc. They rank first in the league in three pointers attempted with 31.9 per game, but they have been hitting them at a woeful rate (29.1%).
Eight of their next 10 games will be played at home, so the Rockets will have time to ease back into it over the next couple of weeks, when the opposition looks rather thin aside from a double confrontation with the Memphis Grizzlies.