Houston Rockets need to cut down on turnovers

Houston has had trouble with turnovers all season, and it really hurt them against the Clippers in Game 1

In many ways so far in the Western Conference playoffs, the Houston Rockets have stuck to a familiar but disturbing script.

They are a high-scoring team, averaging 112 points a game, but they are also mistake-prone, with their turnovers coming at an alarmingly high rate.

The 24 turnovers the Rockets had in their Game 1 loss to the Clippers on Monday night gave Houston 96 turnovers in six playoff games.

After practice Tuesday, many of the Rockets talked about the need to improve their effort and energy for Game 2 Wednesday night at the Toyota Center. But they also conceded that giving the ball away so often is disheartening.

"Energy obviously was key," James Harden said about his team's lackadaisical effort in Game 1. "But us turning the basketball over 20-plus times against a really good team like this isn't going to cut it."

The reality is that being careless with the ball is not out of character for the Rockets.

They turned the ball over 15.9 times a game during the regular season, the third-highest in the NBA.

And in the postseason they have turned the ball over 16 times per game, the second-highest among playoff teams.

"First of all, our effort and attitude has to change," Houston Coach Kevin McHale said. "We've got to be ready to go to work and be ready to be physical and be ready to play at whatever level it takes to play to win the game.

"That also includes taking care of the ball. It includes getting second shots, attacking the offensive boards. It includes attacking their defenders, putting them in compromising positions and then making the right play."

Harden has struggled to score against the Clippers.

His numbers were down against the Clippers during four regular-season games. Harden, who finished second in the league in scoring (27.4), averaged only 20 points a game against the Clippers on 35.8% shooting, his lowest-shooting percentage against any Western Conference opponent.

Harden said the Clippers are trapping him and forcing him to pass the basketball.

"I've got to rely on my teammates," said Harden, who had 20 points in Game 1. "All year they did a great job of making the plays, making the good plays. So the same situation. They trap me, they put two on the ball, I give it up, find my teammates and make them make the next play."

They failed to take advantage in the opener, even though the Clippers didn't have point guard Chris Paul, who remained questionable for the second game with a strained left hamstring.

The Rockets know what's at stake Wednesday.

"Obviously, you don't want to be down 0-2, but I wouldn't really call it desperate," Harden said. "I'll just call it a sense of urgency, just going out there competing, playing at a high level."


Twitter: @BA_Turner

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