In case the Rockets had forgotten that other part of January, the stretch that came between the five game winning streak and the four wins in five games they capped with the blowout in Utah, the reminder came with rapid and devastating force.
Unpleasant as it might be, they might be better off remembering the stretch they would love to forget and the failings that had sent them spiraling to that seven-game losing streak.
Either that or they could study the Cliff Notes otherwise labeled Nuggets 118, Rockets 110.
The Rockets fell back into those bad habits against precisely the team ideally suited to punish them. The run that had the Rockets playing from behind and trying to mount an improbable comeback came later than in the weeks of struggles, but it was as thorough as any and reminiscent of many.
"It was the same thing," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said with the similarities to the losing streak and the Rockets' third loss to the Nuggets this season. "Turnovers for us. Playing in a crowd. Not moving the ball enough on the offensive end. And we didn't get back and cover the paint. They just ran out on us.
"(Danilo) Gallinari made some tough 3s and we decided to do it on our own and it snowballed a little bit."
The Rockets had some of the issues they had hoped to have put behind them throughout the game, but when they struggled, the problems grew worse. After getting just six turnovers in Monday's blowout, they had that many in the first quarter and again in the 22-2 Nuggets run.
The Rockets led by seven when they gave away four points to end the third quarter. When the fourth quarter began with the Nuggets making a few tough shots and the Rockets frustrated by a few tough calls, the Rockets cracked. By the time they settled down enough to make it a game late, the Rockets had surrendered a 20-2 run, including a 17-0 burst to end the third quarter and start the fourth.
"I think our turnovers caught up to us," Lin said. "Our defensive deficiencies caught up to us."
Nuggets bring Rockets back down to earth
Houston Chronicle | Jan 31