Rockets record franchise record win total... D'Antoni's 3 words prove this means nothing
With their 114-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, the Houston Rockets set a franchise record for regular season wins.
It was their eighth straight victory and NBA-best 59th of the season.
The Hakeem Olajuwon championship teams of the 1990s, the Ralph Sampson teams of the ’80s and the Elvin Hayes teams of the ’70s never won that many games.
That’s a major accomplishment, but the players were not all that impressed.
“They didn’t care,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of his team’s reaction to the record. “I’m kind of happy. I thought it was nice. They absolutely did not care.”
With nine games left in the regular season, the 59-14 Rockets have the best record in the NBA pretty much locked up. They own a 4.5-game lead over the defending champion Golden State Warriors, so it’s likely they’ll have home court throughout the playoffs.
“It’s a good team accomplishment in the regular season, but we’ve got bigger goals than that,” said Rockets star James Harden, who is far and away the front-runner to win his first NBA Most Valuable Player award this season.
Harden is averaging a league-best 30.9 points per game, along with 8.6 assists, third best in the NBA.
“We haven’t done anything. We don’t have time to relax. The No. 1 seed is cool and all, but we’ve got bigger things to worry about. We don’t have time to relax or take deep breaths,” Harden said.
“The edge is already going to be there no matter what,” he added, according to ESPN.
Many didn’t think the edge was there last season in the playoffs when Harden melted down in the Western Conference semifinals against San Anonio.
Harden had just 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting with six turnovers in Game 6, which the Spurs won 114-75 to advance to the conference finals. In a close-out game, at home, playing a team without its best player, Kawhi Leonard, many found Harden’s effort inexcusable.
I’ve defended Harden all along even after game 5 last year against the Spurs but his quitting on the team in game 6 was indefensible, worse than choking is not even trying, I’m counting on CP3 to not let that happen this year
— John (@rocketman2154) March 5, 2018
It had to have left a bad taste in Harden’s mouth.
James Harden: 6 fouls, 6 turnovers, 2 buckets. What a miserable way for an MVP candidate to end his season.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 12, 2017
Now, with veteran Chris Paul in the fold, can the Rockets take that next step and make it to the NBA Finals?
Paul has had his own playoff struggles, never having made it to a conference finals. The closest he came was in 2015 when the Los Angeles Clippers were up 3-1 against the Rockets but lost three straight as Houston advanced.
Both players have a lot to prove. While the Warriors remain the favorite to win the Western Conference despite their No. 2 seed, star guard Steph Curry sprained his knee last week and will be out at least three weeks.
Curry’s condition come playoff time will be a huge factor should the Rockets and Warriors meet in the conference finals.
D’Antoni said the Rockets are focused on the big prize.
“They want it all,” he said. “They know what’s at stake, and they know what we need to do. They know what we’ll be judged on in the playoffs.”
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