Rockets learn another lesson from Suns loss but also see an example to follow


PHOENIX – Before the Suns get down to doing what championship contenders are supposed to do to teams in the Rockets‘ position to try and figure each other out, before the Rockets build a nine-point lead and the Suns l On his way to a 15-point cushion, Rockets coach Stephen Silas looked back to another time when things were very different.

The Suns are legitimate contenders for the championship. They have proven themselves with a race to the NBA Finals.

They also put together a consecutive season with a winning record.

In the four seasons before Monty Williams took over as coach of the Suns, the Suns totaled 87-241. They went 34-39 in Williams’ debut season, crowned by sweeping their run through the bubble, and then enjoyed their breakthrough season.

The Rockets entered Thursday’s game with a back-to-back losing season, although they came away with a 1-7 record as they head to a back-to-back game against the Nuggets and Warriors starting Friday in Denver. .

As always, there were lessons to be learned from their last loss, but before the Rockets even collapsed under the weight of a Suns’ 15-2 run in the third quarter, Silas sought to see the situation in. his outfit.

“For us as a group, every night is a new experience and we learn from those experiences,” said Silas. “This team… they weren’t very good not that long ago. Monty came along and did a great job of making these kids better. It’s a role model that we envision for our group, being a young group that didn’t have as much success as they wanted right away, but could potentially be really, really good on the road.

The Rockets face a long road to becoming “really good”. But when Suns star Devin Booker was a 19-year-old rookie shooting guard, he averaged 13.8 points and 2.6 assists. In eight games, 19-year-old Rockets rookie shooting guard Jalen Green averaged 14.8 points and 3.3 assists.

The Rockets would rather not wait until his sixth season before Green enjoys his debut with a winning record like Booker did with the Suns. The Rockets, however, took a leap in their rebuilding, giving their young players a chance to learn from struggles, while Booker’s career began with him out of the rotation in three of his first eight games.

The final lessons came from the Suns ‘run when the Rockets felt the pressure of the Suns’ lead disappearing and growing momentum and stopped playing the way they did when they built their lead. .

It is not surprising that the Suns fled, or as Silas put it “came towards us like a hurricane”. The Rockets had to learn to handle it.

“Was young. We’re going to have some dips in our game. We don’t know how to win yet,” said Silas. “Having, finding consistency, learning what it takes to win, which is even playing instead to play from top to bottom, these will be the things that will help us overcome the bump.

“We’re up against some really good teams right now. We’re in a tough spot right now on the road. So we learn a lot about ourselves. It’s hard. The NBA is tough. When you play against a team that has gone to the finals and against the Lakers and we have Denver and Golden State coming up, it’s a tough stage on the road.

The Rockets continued to fight. They fell from 28 to under 10 in the first game against the Lakers. Their nine-point lead on Thursday came after the Suns rushed to an early 11-point lead. Even after the Suns’ soaring third-quarter surge took the lead at 15, the Rockets made it a seven-point game and had two good looks, midrange jumper Kevin Porter Jr. and a workout. Eric Gordon, to make it a two-game possession with four minutes remaining.

But as the Suns were in the middle of their run, with a series of blocked shots, quick breaks and alley-oop slams, the Rockets moved away from the style that had worked.

“We were getting the ball rolling,” Rockets forward Christian Wood said. “We were doing the extra pass to the guys. Then I got the impression that in the third, it sort of stalled. We kind of got into iso situations. The ball has stopped moving a bit. We’ve had a bunch of turnovers.

There was a certainty the Suns were playing with urgency when they were nine in the second half. When teams move, the Rockets must learn to rely even more on their style and strengths.

It would be the “knowing how to win” that Silas tries to teach.

“They were in the championship last year, but we can’t make an excuse of that,” said forward Jae’Sean Tate. “It’s the third game in a row that we do the things we’re supposed to do, we move him, we pick him up in transition and we just lose him.

“That’s what separates a good team from a… bad team. We have to put a whole game together. “

The Suns were that “bad team” not too long ago. It could give the Rockets a reason to believe things can get better for them, too. It will depend on many factors if they are to follow the Suns’ plan. But learning from the losses would pay off the growing pains along the way.

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Twitter: @Jonathan_Feigen

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