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Milwaukee Bucks 128, Houston Rockets 121: Six weeks!

With just about six weeks left in the NBA season, it’s fitting that the Houston Rockets look mentally in the same place the Denver Nuggets found themselves in last year. The Nuggets famously shouted “1… 2… 3… six weeks!” to break a huddle during a particularly nasty loss. They contended that it didn’t mean they were looking forward to a miserable season coming to a merciful end. I’m here to tell you that whether the Rockets are there or not, I am. I am expressly looking forward to a miserable season coming to a merciful end.

I can’t see why the Rockets wouldn’t feel that way. They’ve tried giving up on offense, giving up on defense, giving up with a variety of different lineups, giving up individually and as a team and even giving up on each other. They even gave up on their coach and nothing has worked. They’re smart enough to know that not only is their whole system a shambles, it also wouldn’t matter if they were playing with the brilliance and chemistry of the vaunted San Antonio Spurs. Nobody in the league has a chance unless a certain greatest shooter ever on a certain greatest team ever gets hurt in the playoffs. There’s nothing to play for, except personal pride, and it’s not clear the Rockets have any of that.

The Milwaukee bucks have been in freefall all season, regressing and disappointing compared to their expectations coming into the season. They were also clearly the better team. Sure, the Rockets rallied late, but the Bucks simply had their way on offense, with Giannis Antentokounmpo notching an 18 point, 17 rebound, 11 assist triple double to go along with Jabari Parker’s career-high 36 points on 16-25 shooting. Parker even threw in his first three pointer of the season. The Bucks looked like an up-and-coming team with a bright future, picking on the old men who didn’t even want to be there.

Here’s something exciting:

oh my god

How did Ty Lawson amass a +/- of -12 in a mere 6 minutes? How is Terrence Jones this bad? Josh Smith, despite nearly shooting the Rockets out of the game, still shot better than Patrick Beverley, who couldn’t hit an open corner three to save his life. Somehow, they still had far better +/- than the bench, which apparently might as well have been five random people pulled out of the crowd. This thing is falling down around Houston’s ears. Every time they seem to have hit rock bottom, they find a way to break into a newer, more depressing depth.

With every game, the knife pushes in a little farther, and each successive twist hurts more. If it’s become tiresome to read about how miserable and futile their season is, if watching their games has become a source of frustration and dread, imagine being in that locker room. Imagine having to explain to one another how, with a timeout ready to go, you all failed to inbounds the ball in the most important possession of the game. When enough failures pile up, each one stings worse, and each one is harder to avoid.

There’s nothing left of this season but the ashes of a future that burned up without warning. There’s nothing left to be said about another disappointing game, apart from amazement that anything is disappointing at this point. There will be more Houston Rockets games this season. At this point I’m just glad that it’s only six more weeks. At this point, I can only hope that this isn’t how the team feels. At this point, that hope looks pretty faint.

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