At no point was there an expectation that the Houston Rockets, with their mix of youthful holdovers and new veterans, would make everything work with precision from the onset.
There will be growing pains, and cohesion will take time. Case in point: After erasing what had been a 16-point deficit against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, the Rockets took their first lead since late in the first quarter when Jalen Green scored through a foul for an 87-85 advantage with 6:42 left to play.
What followed for Houston, which will host the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, was a disjointed stretch that resulted in the Warriors reeling off a 15-2 run en route to a 106-95 win. Green failed to convert the three-point play, and the Rockets missed six consecutive shots to grease the skids to their demise, with frantic, hurried attempts at the rim their undoing.
The Rockets shot 9 of 23 from the floor in the fourth quarter and missed all eight of their 3-point attempts. Execution is sure to improve for Houston on the offensive end, but it might take time.
What was a promising defensive start to the season for the Hornets disintegrated in a 133-121 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. Charlotte limited the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons to a combined 47.8 effective field-goal percentage while splitting its first two games. The Hornets allowed Brooklyn to shoot 56.3 percent and sent the Nets to the free-throw line 32 times. Charlotte experienced breakdowns defensively in every phase, showcasing a clear emphasis ahead of the matchup with Houston to reclaim what was suddenly lost.