Amid rumors of discord between his two star players, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said that tension between guards Chris Paul and James Harden is nothing to worry about.
D’Antoni said that it’s “normal” for the teammates to go back-and-forth about the correct style, and added that the whole thing isn’t much of a story.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni also addressed the @TheAthletic report about tense talks between himself, Chris Paul and James Harden regarding style of play. https://t.co/T6IHQneHbZ pic.twitter.com/kPJF0H66ND
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 25, 2019
This comes on the heels of a report that Harden and Paul had a tense disagreement after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors.
D’Antoni is doing what he should be doing here, which is trying to turn a negative report into nothing. All is not perfect in Houston, but it was not as if the Rockets performed badly this season, so it seems manageable for now.
Mike D’Antoni was visibly beaten down after his Houston Rockets lost Game 6 to the Golden State Warriors 118-113 to get eliminated from the playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night.
Houston and Golden State were tied 2-2 and playing in Game 5 when Kevin Durant exited with a calf injury. The Rockets failed to take advantage of Durant’s injury and not only lost that game, but also fell in Game 6 at home.
The Rockets head coach admitted that the lost would hurt and take some time to get over.
Mike D'Antoni: "This one is going to hurt." Said this loss will leave a mark and it's going to take a long time to get over. #Rockets
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) May 11, 2019
— Ƒunhouse (@BackAftaThis) May 11, 2019
This loss has to leave the Rockets wondering about where to go from here. They had the best record in the league last season and pushed Golden State to seven games in the conference finals, doing so without Chris Paul. This year they started out shaky but rallied in the second half and got the matchup they wanted: the Warriors again. They got lucky that Durant was injured and couldn’t capitalize.
Houston is getting older — especially with CP3 — and possibly worse. On top of that, they’re not even as good as the Warriors without Durant. That’s a bad and sobering combination.
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Is Mike D’Antoni playing some sort of reverse psychology ahead of Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday between his Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors?
D’Antoni was complimentary of referee Scott Foster during his pregame press conference, calling Foster one of the best referees in the league.
D'Antoni on Scott Foster: "He's one of the best in the game."
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 1, 2019
The comments from D’Antoni were bizarre knowing the history between the official and the Rockets.
In their last three postseasons, the Rockets have gone 0-6 in games officiated by Foster, and 21-7 in others. It has gotten so bad that James Harden said this year Foster should not be assigned to the team’s games.
Foster being the referee for the game is a big deal, but something D’Antoni seems to be trying to overlook.
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Tempers flared for the Houston Rockets late in the third quarter of their game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, and Chris Paul and Mike D’Antoni picked up technical fouls because of it.
Paul hit a big three-pointer with less than a minute left in the third to cut Golden State’s lead to five, and he felt like he was fouled on the shot. He waved his hands in the direction of the official to express his frustration with the non-call, and he was immediately hit with a technical.
Chris Paul drains a 3, thought he was fouled, picks up a technical. pic.twitter.com/IF3DLYMDlM
— Four Krusties (@DFSBBallGuy) April 28, 2019
D’Antoni agreed with CP3, and he became even more animated over the non-call that Paul was. That resulted in the Rockets coach also receiving a technical, which allowed Golden State to end the third quarter on a high note.
It looked like there was some contact on Paul’s shot, but he stuck his hip way out to create it. It’s no surprise he didn’t get the call, especially on the road.
Mike D’Antoni has high expectations for a potential second-round playoff series against the defending champions.
The Houston Rockets punched their ticket to the second round on Wednesday by defeating the Utah Jazz 100-93 to close out their first-round series. The Warriors would be their opponent in the second round should they eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers.
The potential high-octane matchup would represent a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, which the Warriors won in seven games. It’s a series many basketball fans want to see, and one D’Antoni said should be “great.”
Given the invitation, Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni fought an urge to comment on a match up with GS. He could not resist the one-liner.
"If they come out of it, it's going to be a great series. We said all year, 'let's run it back.' Well, OK. I guess we're going to run it back."
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 25, 2019
There are more than a few Rockets fans who feel their team could have beaten the Warriors last season had Chris Paul not injured his hamstring in Game 5. Houston won that game to go up 3-2 in the series. However, the Warriors won the next two games, both of which Paul missed.
Barring injury to any of the important players from each team, a Warriors-Rockets series should indeed be one worth watching. It’s the matchup one Rockets player wants.
Mike D’Antoni took the opportunity to zing Steph Curry in anticipation of Wednesday’s matchup between their teams.
Golden State is coming off a rough stretch in which they’ve gone 4-6 over their last 10 games. That includes a home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. After that loss, Curry said the nice thing about the league is that they would have a shot at redemption a few days later when they visit the surging Houston Rockets.
“The beauty of the NBA is that on Wednesday we have an opportunity to send a statement. We have to take advantage of that opportunity. We’re looking forward to it, no question,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. The Warriors are at Houston on Wednesday.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) March 11, 2019
A day later, following his Rockets’ 118-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, D’Antoni zinged Curry by saying the Warriors should have probably had more focus aimed at the Suns.
Mike D'Antoni on Steph Curry's 'statement' comment: "Yeah, well they should've probably said it before (the Suns game)."
— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) March 12, 2019
His point is well taken.
Loss to the Suns aside, both teams will enter Wednesday’s game with a point to prove. Houston is hot and enters on a 9-game winning streak. They’re trying to close the gap at the top of the Western Conference in hopes of taking the top seed like they did last year before falling to Golden State in the conference finals.
A normally mild-mannered Mike D’Antoni was fired up when defending star James Harden against criticism Harden has received during his historic streak.
Harden went into the NBA’s All-Star break having scored at least 30 points in 31 consecutive games. He looked to continue the streak in the Houston Rockets’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
Leading up to the game, D’Antoni went on a bit of rant and passionately defended Harden when he was asked to comment about Harden’s critics.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is as cool as they come, but he got pretty fired up when asked about criticism of James Harden stemming from his streak of 31 straight 30-point games. D’Antoni’s rant: pic.twitter.com/w9B2AEqsNB
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 22, 2019
The Rockets have been ravaged by injuries. Chris Paul and Clint Capela, Houston’s two best players besides Harden, have both missed extensive time during the streak. That resulted in Harden shouldering more of the scoring load than usual.
Harden angers some with his mastery of drawing fouls. Others don’t like his isolation-heavy offensive style of play. D’Antoni and the Rockets have needed every bit of James Harden’s skills to stay in the hunt for home court advantage during the playoffs. The scoring efforts may even earn Harden a second MVP Award, despite what his detractors say.