The franchise-record losing streak with no end in sight appeared to weigh heavily on Stephen Silas as he took questions Sunday. The first-year Houston Rockets coach struggled for words as he tried to discuss the team’s 20 consecutive losses.
After a 114-112 setback against the Oklahoma City Thunder in which a potential game-tying layup was blocked in the closing seconds, Silas was asked if he thought the weight of the losing streak was building and affecting how the Rockets play.
Silence. Nearly 10 seconds passed. Finally, a visibly dejected Silas answered with one subdued word: “Yeah.”
It was a brutal scene to watch amid a disastrous season for Houston.
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Little has gone right for the Rockets in Silas’ first season as an NBA head coach. Russell Westbrook was traded before the season. James Harden forced his way out and was traded in January. Christian Wood was playing like an All-Star before an injury forced him to miss over a month.
The Rockets have plummeted to 11-30, the second-worst record in the NBA, just 1½ games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves. They are 28th in offensive rating, 25th in scoring, 29th in field goal percentage and 30th in 3-point percentage.
Things are bleak in Houston, and there doesn’t appear to be any relief on the horizon. P.J. Tucker was just traded. Victor Oladipo is a prime candidate to also be moved ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. And the Rockets have the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule.
“We have no choice,” Silas said Sunday. “We have no choice but to pick up and try hard and learn and grow, and it starts with me.”
Here are four more things to know Monday in the NBA:
Can the Suns get the No. 1 seed?
Poised to end a decade-long postseason drought, the Phoenix Suns aren’t satisfied with simply being a cute overachiever. They’ve climbed to second place in the Western Conference with a torrid 20-5 stretch since late January. After Sunday’s 111-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix is just two games behind first-place Utah. The Suns have a tough schedule the rest of the way. But with the Jazz cooling off, the Clippers stumbling and the Lakers missing their top two stars for the foreseeable future, Phoenix has the potential to make a run at the top seed.
Blake Griffin debuts in Brooklyn
Blake Griffin played his first game with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, and the six-time All-Star showed he still has something left in the tank. Griffin played 15 minutes off the bench and finished with two points, two rebounds and one block in a 113-106 win over the Washington Wizards. The Nets will be able to ease Griffin into the rotation and gradually ramp up his minutes as he works off rust. For his debut, Griffin held his own defensively and proved he can still get up, slamming home his first dunk since December of 2019 for his lone basket on the night.
LaMelo Ball’s season over?
Charlotte Hornets rookie sensation LaMelo Ball is out indefinitely and likely done for the rest of the season after suffering a fractured bone in his right wrist. It’s a huge setback for a promising Hornets team looking to get back to the playoffs. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner’s injury occurred the same day Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James went down with a high ankle sprain and a week after Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid suffered a bruised knee.
Game of the night: Hawks at Clippers
The Atlanta Hawks carry the league’s longest active winning streak into Staples Center to face a Los Angeles Clippers team looking to regain its rhythm. The Hawks have won eight in a row since Lloyd Pierce was fired and Nate McMillan was named interim coach. The run has vaulted them into fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Clippers are 6-8 in their last 14 games and in danger of falling out of the top four in the West.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.