The Rockets are reeling and Chris Paul's frustration boiled over in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's 98-80 loss to the surging Thunder. When ref Mark Ayotte called Paul for a foul as he was backing down Dennis Schroder, the nine-time all-star appeared to fake a pass to him. Ayotte called a technical for the disrespectful deke.
Paul's irritation probably wasn't really about the call, though. Houston's loss dropped them to 4-6 on the year. The Rockets didn't lose their sixth game last season—when they finished with the best record in the Association—until Dec. 22.
Coach Mike D'Antoni had one word to sum up their performance Thursday night, and really the season: "Yuck." After leading the NBA in offensive rating in 2017-18, they're No. 26 so far this season. The loss also marked the third time this year they've failed to crack the 90-point plateau over 48 minutes; that's only happened three times total in D'Antoni's first two seasons in Houston.
"Really, our offense is anemic," D'Antoni said after the game. "I don't know if we're just sagging because we're not believing in what we're [doing]. I don't know. We've got to find the answers. I can't tell you today, 'Oh yeah, it's this,' and we'll solve it tomorrow. No, we've got to work through this and figure out what we need to do. But our offense right now is not very good."
With Golden State's loss to the Bucks the same night, the Thunder now have the league's longest winning streak at seven games. Perhaps we're being unfair, but there's one major thing development connecting the disappointing Thunder from last season and the underachieving Rockets this season: Carmelo Anthony. In 20 minutes off the bench against his former team, Melo shot 1-of-11 from the floor for two points to go along with two fouls. Mark Ayotte isn't who Chris Paul should be angry with.