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Floundering Rockets have ‘lost swagger’ – D’Antoni


Agence France-Presse

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni is at a loss to explain the Rockets sputtering start to the NBA season, but he’s confident the team that led the league with 65 wins last season can regroup.

“We’ve lost our swagger and we’re on our heels,” D’Antoni said after the Rockets dropped to 1-5 on Tuesday night with a 104-85 home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

D’Antoni said the absence of reigning NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden, who missed a second straight game with a hamstring strain, was a factor, but not the only one.

“Right now, we’re playing like crap,” D’Antoni said “We’re just not playing well.

“I don’t have a lot of answers for you now,” added D’Antoni, who was baffled by the Rockets’ offensive woes shooting from both the field and the free-throw line.

The Rockets’ potent offense is currently 26th in the league in scoring with an average of 105.8 points per game. They rank 29th in field goal percentage at 41.2 percent.

Three of their losses have been by 15 points or more — already matching the three losses by 15 or more they had all of last season.

“We’ll look and we’ll fight it,” said D’Antoni, who was pleased with the determination his players showed in their fourth straight defeat on Tuesday.

“I thought their spirit — they stayed with it,” he said. “That’s all I’m asking from them, just to have the spirit until we can figure this out.

“I’m down like everybody else, but I haven’t lost my faith.”