It's getting late around here.
And at some point it's going to be over and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is going to have to make another change -- to the personnel.
Yes, we have nearly four months left in a six-month season, but at 5-10 the Rockets are just a game out of last place in the Southwest Division. The cellar is occupied by the New Orleans Pelicans, who after starting the season losers in 11 out of 12 games are now surging with a three-game win streak.
"Confidence is still there, but keep losing games like this and it's going to go," Corey Brewer said. "But right now, it's still there, and we got to build on open looks and make them."
James Harden had a nice 40-point game but had just four points in the fourth quarter when he took two shots. The Grizzlies doubled Harden, forcing him to pass for other options. The Rockets went 3-for-12 from the field in the fourth and scored just 16 points.
It almost made Harden's night look empty.
Overall, Ariza and Brewer had a 3-for-18 night from the field. Terrence Jones added just three points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Harden made shots in the first half, but Memphis took him out of the game in the second -- and that's when Howard is supposed to take over. However, Howard didn't get in position to receive the ball in the paint. He scored 12 points on eight shots. But with Marc Gasol playing away from the basket, it made Howard ineffective as a rebounder -- on both ends of the court. Howard had just one offensive rebound, and it's never a good night for the Rockets when Ariza leads the team in rebounding, with 12.
Bickerstaff stuck with Howard for a season-high 40 minutes, keeping Clint Capela, a second-year backup center with rising talent, on the bench for all but eight minutes.
Bickerstaff said he must find ways for Howard to get the ball, particularly in the paint. If Harden takes over games and the Rockets still lose, something deeper has to change.
"This is not the same group," Terry said. "We got to quit saying that. Whoever told you that is kidding themselves."
Beverley, getting dressed nearby, agreed. "You're not watching the game," he said.
Lawson was benched for the entire second half, and he couldn't recall when something like that has happened in his career.
Harden, while playing wonderfully in 40 minutes, has to be baffled by the inconsistency of his teammates.
"We're all frustrated, but the confidence is still there," he said. "I think we're getting a lot of open shots that we normally make, and they're not falling. It's putting a lot more pressure on our defense, and we got to continue to take those shots."
Meanwhile, Howard believes so strongly that things will turn around it almost sounds as if he's quoting lyrics from "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey.
"It's tough, but we can't quit," Howard said. "It's super early in the season and you don't want to get too far behind, but at the same time we got to stay positive. We can't hold our heads and allow this obstacle to overcome [us]. We have to overcome it and believe. We can't stop believing."
The Rockets fired a coach because the team wasn't responding to him. Under the new coach, we're seeing a much better effort, especially on the defensive end, where the Rockets had 14 steals on Wednesday night. But the inconsistency continues, as does the losing.
Up next is the winless Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
If you forgot, the Rockets lost to the then-winless Brooklyn Nets at home earlier this month.
Yes, the season is early, but it's getting late, and the Rockets need wins.
"We know that," Howard said. "But like I said, it starts with trust in ourselves. We got to trust in who we are, in our abilities as basketball players. I don't think lately we've done that. We've trusted ourselves fully. All the work that we put into practice, we have to take that from practice and put it in the games."