Just when you think things can’t get any worse for the Rockets, they do.
Already facing elimination by the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, the Rockets learned Friday that key reserve forward Danuel House, Jr. has been kicked out of the Orlando bubble for an unauthorized guest into the hotel for multiple hours on Sept. 8.
Because of the protocols put in place to keep the players, coaches and NBA support staff safe from COVID-19, players were not allowed to leave the Disney World compound where they have quarantined since early July and until recently they weren’t allowed any guests.
Players and coaches have only recently been allowed to have an approved guest come stay with them in the bubble, but those people have been screened and tested. Clearly, the person House brought into his hotel room wasn’t approved.
House, who has already missed the Rockets’ last two games, will not be around for the rest of the Rockets’ postseason run, which could end with Saturday’s Game 5. House had been the Rockets’ best two-way player throughout the playoff run.
“Mr. House is leaving the NBA campus and will not participate with the Rockets team in additional games this season,” the league said in a released statement.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are down 3-1 to the Lakers having lost the last three games of their best-of-seven game series. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Friday that he believes his team can turn it around one game at a time. It starts with Game 5 on Saturday.
“There are a lot of guys in the room who have come down from 3-1 and have won,” D’Antoni said. “It’s a one-game series. We have to play the one game.
“We want to give it our best shot and if our best shot isn’t good enough then so be it.”
And it appears the Rockets’ best shot just may not be good enough. The Rockets’ small ball approach seems to not be working in their favor against a bigger Lakers team which is powering its way through the much smaller Rockets with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way.
Combine that with the fact that the Rockets aren’t making 3-point shots at a rate that can keep the Lakers on their heels. The Rockets have had to play the Lakers half-court game because they are getting killed on the boards which is preventing them getting out in transition.
“You overcome it by what is your determination and two speed, which (Thursday night) we played a little in mud,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve just got to have better execution than what we are doing.
“I think we have a good game plan and I think guys will execute it. If we give them our best shot I think that is good enough to win.”
The players say they haven’t packed in at all and are looking forward to extending their run and possibly upending the No.1 seed Lakers.
“We’re in a situation now where our backs are against the wall,” said Austin Rivers. “So right now everyone should come out with high energy.
“Being in the playoffs should be enough but we are in the situation we are in now. Mentally I think everybody is in a good place despite the situation we are in.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris.