The Houston Rockets started 0-3 this season, and MVP candidate James Harden couldn’t buy a bucket. Harden shot 12-of-54 (22.2 percent) from the floor in those three games, including a woeful 3-of-32 (9.4 percent) from three-point range.
Was there freaking out in Houston?
“There was a little freaking out,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey admitted on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But no, we knew James Harden wouldn’t shoot nine percent from three after the first three games.”
He hasn’t. In fact, he’s shot 15-of-43 (34.9 percent) from three in the four games since, and the Rockets (4-3) have won four straight.
“We’re still not playing great,” Morey said. “Obviously we’ve won four in a row. That’s great. But to make hay in the West, you got to play really well. We’re hoping to have a special season and we’re still grinding, trying to get better. We’re not where we want to be yet, but thank goodness we got some big wins over the weekend.”
Harden combined to score 89 points in wins over the Kings and Clippers this past weekend. Ty Lawson, meanwhile, has fared well in the early season, averaging 10.9 points, 5.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Lawson, 28, went to rehab for alcohol during the offseason. Morey signed him in July, allowing the Rockets to slide Harden off the ball.
“It’s sort of a point guard arms race,” Morey said. “There’s so many good players. To add the talent of Ty Lawson at the position was a pretty easy choice. I can only judge a person (by) how he is with us and so far Ty Lawson has been fantastic for us. We’ve had no issues. Obviously he had some things he had to work through where he was before, but with us, he’s been fantastic and I think it was definitely the right move for us.”
Morey said that the Rockets do not have any special rules in place for Lawson.
“We didn’t have to because he’s put all the improvement on himself,” Morey said. “He’s come to us and said, ‘Hey, this is how I’m going to be.’ You don’t have to worry about me. There aren’t any special rules for him. We’ve got our team rules that every team has, and we’ve got our own version of that, and so far there’s been no issues with anyone.”
Morey was also asked about the Golden State Warriors – the team that beat the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals and, at 7-0, the last remaining unbeaten in the NBA. In October, Doc Rivers said that the Warriors got lucky last season because they didn’t have to play the Clippers or the Spurs to get to the Finals.
Morey wasn’t quite on board with that claim.
“Let me dispel that notion,” he said. “The Golden State Warriors were not lucky to win a title. They were the best team last year, they are the best team this year so far – they’re just an unbelievable team. Obviously you can always point to any champion and say, ‘Hey, maybe this could have gone different or that could have gone different.’ This Golden State team is special. I think it’s going to go down as one of the all-time teams. We’re hoping to take them down this year, but they’ve beat us nine out of 10. They got our number. We’re the ones who got to figure out how to beat them.”