Rockets going through a tough stretch

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) bumps Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Don’t look now, but the Rockets appear to be going through something – again!

With the explosive counterpart to James Harden on board in Russell Westbrook, this is supposed to be the year that the Rockets finally break through to the NBA Finals. Yet, they find themselves in 6th place in the Western Conference and riding a four-game losing streak heading into Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.

“We’re going through a tough time obviously,” Rockets guard James Harden said following Saturday’s 124-115 meltdown to LeBron James and the Lakers. “It happens to I think every team throughout the course of the year, but tough times don’t last long, especially for teams that are built for it.”

But the question is are the Rockets built for success even with the explosive backcourt of Westbrook and Harden? At best it seems questionable when you consider that Harden and Westbrook finished Saturday night with 35 points and 34 points, respectively, yet it didn’t matter in a third quarter when the Lakers breezed past a 6-point halftime deficit to stomp the Rockets.

Here is one telling stat that has to make you question how built to win now are the Rockets really. In a league where the 3-ball currently rules, the Rockets limited the Lakers to just 33 percent 3-point shooting and still suffered a double-digit loss. Another telling stat is that the considerably longer Lakers managed 24 second-chance points compared to just 4 second-chance points by the Rockets.

Sure, this was just one game but the Lakers are now officially the team to go through in order to in the Western Conference this year.

But the Rockets are preaching patience as the season hits the midway point and time is about to start running real short.

“It’s like anytime else where you go through a little bad spell and it’s hard to see the other side,” said forward P.J. Tucker. “But with how the West is going right now, we just got to keep playing. You know, it doesn’t get easier.”