Mike D’Antoni won’t use crutch of Chris Paul’s absence for loss to Spurs
Chris Paul’s absence from the Houston Rockets starting lineup isn’t an excuse for a loss to the San Antonio Spurs in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s eyes, as their run of 11 straight wins came to an end with a road defeat.
The Rockets sustained only their second loss since the All-Star break and were held under 100 points for the first time since Feb. 26 in a road win against the Utah Jazz.
Paul has missed five of the past six games due to minor injuries after sitting out the loss to the Spurs, as D’Antoni said the Rockets were “erring on the side of caution” as Paul nurses soreness in his left leg.
“Chris can exploit that [defense] more but we’ve seen every defense in the world,” said D’Antoni, according to Kelly Iko of ESPN Houston. “If you’re not sharp you’re not sharp, we just didn’t play well.”
MVP frontrunner James Harden pointed to the real reason behind their struggles, admitting the team has gone in auto-pilot during this last stretch.
“We’ve coasted these last few games,” said Harden, who has shot 37-of-99 from the floor and 6-of-40 from 3-point range during a five-game slump, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “It’s time to amp it up a little bit. Just get our minds and our bodies right and get ready to go.”
The Rockets are still locked to finish with the best record in the league and the No. 1 seed, but as their coach has warned — the intensity and fire need to remain for this team to make a deep playoff run — and it starts with finishing off the season strong.
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