That didn’t take long — Houston coach Kevin McHale was fired this week in response to a very poor start by the Rockets.  What’s the deal in Houston?  It seems McHale had lost the locker room, but it’s hard to imagine that that happened this quickly.  If McHale did lose the players, then they had to be part of the way gone before they ever took the floor this season.

From my vantage point, I like the way the Rockets are built, but hate the way they play.  The Rockets system reminds me of the NFL’s “wide-nine” defense which is predicated on exploiting a stat (in this case, a couple of them) that translates to wins.

But it ignores the reality that a team that is winning is putting up good stats in a variety of ways.

In other words:  the winning atmosphere and execution results in the stats, not the other way around.  Artificially manipulating certain stat categories has never been a good way to build a winner.  McHale or no McHale, it’s a lesson the Rockets need to learn.


Power Rankings For Players!

(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

  1.  Steph Curry, G (GS) (1) – They may never lose the way he’s playing.
  1.  LeBron James, F (CLE) (2) – He’s now as good a leader as a player.
  1.  Russell Westbrook, G (OKC) (4) – Putting up ungodly numbers
  1.  Jimmy Butler, G (CHI) (6) – He’s the reason Rose may be expendable
  1.  Blake Griffin, F (LAC) (3) – Needs to mature as a player to take the next step.
  1.  Chris Bosh, F (MIA) (7) – Still being overlooked, as everyone is marveling over Hassan Whiteside.
  1.  Paul George, G (IND) (10) – Guess he’s over that injury, eh?
  1.  Kawhi Leonard, F (SA) (–) – Should we start calling him the “Little Fundamental?”
  1.  Paul Milsap, F (ATL) (–) – Who says the Hawks don’t have any stars?
  1.  Dirk Nowitzki, F (DAL) (–) – Who says he’s too old?


What’s the hot rumor this week?

Success is fleeting, and however good the Warriors look right now, it might not last past this season.  That’s because SF Harrison Barnes, a crucial albeit underrated member of the starting five, has already turned down a contract extension to test the waters as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Perhaps Barnes’ abilities will be overshadowed enough by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to keep him affordable, but the versatile forward would be a great fit on a lot of teams looking for that last piece to take the step to the next level, and if Barnes gets offered a big deal, the Warriors probably won’t be able to match it.


Observations and opinions on this week’s action

“It’s unbelievable.  All my prayers go to the families of the victims. It’s tough.  It helped me to think about something else.  For the past 24 hours, I’ve just spent my time calling family and friends to make sure they’re OK.” – French native Tony Parker, on playing after learning of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night.

“That was great.  I appreciate that from the NBA. It shows that we’re together.” – Jazz C and French national Rudy Gobert, expressing appreciation at the pregame acknowledgment of the attacks in Paris.

“You’re not going to win any basketball games with 27 turnovers.” – 76ers coach Brett Brown.  His team has won 0 basketball games this season.

“It’s still a learning process for him but tonight was a big game, a big way to step up and take control of the game offensively, knock down shots, be aggressive out there, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be the first of many.” – Knicks F Carmelo Anthony, on rookie Kristaps Porzingis remarkable development.  Not to be lost here is the fact that Carmelo has obviously matured and grown as a player and team leader.  He’s obviously enthused about being part of a winning team, and not just the star or scorer who’s in the spotlight.

“I wouldn’t call this a rivalry.  They’re the better team.  They have the upper hand.” – Clippers F Blake Griffin, after the Warriors came back from 23 points down to beat the Clippers in Los Angeles 124-117.
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