Despite Mike D'Antoni's reputation as a coach that doesn't prioritize defense, the Houston Rockets hope to improve on that side of the floor this season.
Houston hired Jeff Bzdelik as an assistant coach and has a history of improving defenses.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of things,” Bzdelik said. “You can’t let what happens on offense dictate your defensive energy. Defense needs to be constant, offense is a variable. It’s a mindset more so than anything else, to take it personal when you get scored upon.”
“It felt good. I think it started with our defense, though,” James Harden said. “Just for the first quarter, we held them to 15 points; that’s why we were able to get off to a big lead. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to be better for all four quarters. Stay in our defensive intensity and just be solid. We knew we can score, but defensively, we’ve just got to be solid for four quarters. And we will, it’s just a learning experience for us.”
The Rockets’ defensive rating per 100 possessions, at 109.1, was the ninth worst in the league last season.
The Rockets want a defender on the floor in the backcourt beside Harden such as Patrick Beverley and they also hope to get more out of K.J. McDaniels.
“To get stops, everybody needs to be involved and everybody needs to trust one another and [have] a clarity to what your schemes are,” Bzdelik said. “That needs to be consistent, there needs to be a consistent effort and discipline to one scheme defensively. Everybody is on a string, and everybody does their job.”