<
>

Rockets leaders James Harden, Dwight Howard speak the truth

Saturday afternoon a little truth came from the mouths of two of the Houston Rockets leaders: Dwight Howard and James Harden.

The reality of an 0-2 start to an 82-game season is sounding too fresh and looking too normal for this group that's been beaten by a total of 40 points.

"You just got to keep fighting, trust each other and things will change," Howard said. "The two losses is something that we needed. We needed a wake-up call. We need to humble ourselves, come in here and practice and forget about what happened last season, forget about any accolades that we won in the past. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is this moment."

Harden has not played well to start the season. He offers no excuses, saying the missed open shots, 3-for-11 on open jumpers in Friday’s loss to Golden State, should go in. He noted that he is not seeing anything different from defenses in comparison to his MVP-like season from a year ago.

If anything he said he needs to pick up his own energy level.

"We lost by 20 both games," he said. "Now we got to lock in and get to business. No more cooling around, we’re too cool. Even myself as a leader, I have to pick up my mojo a little bit. We'll be alright though."

Sunday afternoon the Rockets visit the Miami Heat with a chance to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2010. Last season, the Rockets didn’t lose three consecutive games until the postseason. That Rockets team endured so much with injuries and still won 56 games and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Sunday the Rockets will miss starting power forward Terrence Jones (lacerated eye lid) and might start rookie Montrezl Harrell in his place.

Coach Kevin McHale said he was pleased with the work of his group in Saturday’s practice. Even then, he only offered so much praise.

"We got to get carryover," McHale said. "We’ve had some good practices, we haven’t had any carryover into the games. But at a certain point, we’re either going to get it and play up to our potential or we’re going to get waxed by 20 again. This is a no-mercy league. No one cares if you’re hurt or whatever, no one cares you didn’t have enough guys for training (camp) no one cares about that stuff. They care about trying to kick your tail that night, and we’ve been getting our asses handed to us the last two games."

With a daunting schedule with three of the next five games against dangerous Western Conference foes, the Rockets need to get their act together.

"Sometimes you need your ass whipped -- it’s the only way you’re going to learn," Howard said. "If you always win you never learn, sometimes it takes a loss, sometimes it takes you getting beat up to get back up and be better."