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[Sporting News]: James Harden, Mike D'Antoni and the Rockets really, really taking defense seriously

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Os Trigonum, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum It. Deserves. Its. Own. Thread.
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    more good press

    http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/new...ouston-jeff-bzdelik/bz6tp76xz3yj1ruyapowo1okb

    James Harden, Mike D'Antoni and the Rockets really, really are taking defense seriously
    Mitch Lawrence
    Published on Nov. 7, 2016

    We all saw this coming. We knew it would happen. But here’s what no one saw with the reconstructed Rockets: It’s taken only a handful of games for James Harden to master Mike D’Antoni’s speed-ball offense.

    Finding teammates in rhythm and taking what the defense gives him, Harden looks like the second coming of Steve Nash in the Houston Rockets’ new offense, according to no less than D’Antoni, Nash’s old coach in Phoenix. There have been times when Harden has been at such a high level, D’Antoni has made a conscious effort to refrain from calling plays.

    “I could mess it up, and I don’t want to mess it up,” D’Antoni said after Harden easily dismantled the defense-less Knicks on Wednesday in the Garden. “James has a unique ability to be able to play one step ahead. Nash was like that. The great players are like that. LeBron is. They just see the game in slow motion.”

    Harden’s hyper-fast adjustment to D’Antoni’s offense is not even the best part of the Rockets’ early-season.

    Are you sitting? A noted slacker at the defensive end at times, Harden is now trying to play defense. There’s a commitment. And, for the first time since D’Antoni broke out what has turned out to be the offense-of-the-future back in the mid-2000s with the Suns, he’s in charge of a team that at least is talking about stopping the other team — even if results aren’t showing it. The Rockets are 3-3, and they have the 28th-ranked defense (by points allowed per possession) in the NBA, but the wheels are in motion for something different from a D’Antoni team.

    Houston’s commitment to defense appears to fly in the face of a few things: The Rockets re-stocked their roster in the offseason by signing offensive-minded players in Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. Their former team, the Pelicans, let each walk because they decided that they needed to upgrade their sieve-like D. Now they’re with Harden, giving the Rockets an offense-heavy lineup, especially as their top perimeter defender, Patrick Beverley, is sidelined with a knee injury.

    There’s an even larger issue than the roster. Historically, D’Antoni’s system isn’t defense-friendly. When his best Suns teams went to the Western Conference Finals in 2005 and 2006, they could match anyone basket for basket. Firepower was never the problem. But where they inevitably came up short was in their inability to get stops in the final minutes of games. Not that it seemed to bother D’Antoni. After his team scored 32 points, but surrendered 43 to the Spurs in the fourth quarter of a Game 1 loss in the 2005 West Finals, he famously observed, “We just ran out of possessions.”

    Now, D’Antoni is singing a different tune. From his days in New York and Los Angeles, he knows that his offense will take the Rockets only so far. To get this team into the playoffs, they’ll have to defy the critics who say that a Mike D’Antoni-coached team can’t get stops.

    “When they hired Mike, I understood that we were going to score a lot of points,” said Trevor Ariza, the Rockets’ 13-year small forward and one of their top defenders. “But in our first conversation, he told me, “we got to play on both ends.’ Those were his first words when he called me up after getting the job. He said, “our offense is going to work. We’ve got a lot of shooters. We have a lot of guys who can make plays. But the defensive end is something we have to pay more attention to. That’s all of us.’ And, that’s what we have been focusing on.”
    more at the link
     
  2. omgTHEpotential

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  3. RudyTBag

    RudyTBag Contributing Member

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    Our defense in the second half of the Spurs game was fantastic. Progress.
     
  4. hakeemthagreat

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    Man I love the fact we have a REAL coach that atleast knows what he's doing. I remember times last year I would question if I could realistically do a better job than McHale/JB. The fact MDA has a cohesive game plan and STICKS to it makes me feel confident in where we're going
     
  5. Easy

    Easy Contributing Member
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    Our defense is turning the corner. Just not the same corner the offense has turned.
     
  6. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum It. Deserves. Its. Own. Thread.
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    then maybe they'll meet up half way around the block
     
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