Fans of parity are in love with the NBA right now. In the Western Conference, 5.5 games separate the top-seeded Denver Nuggets from the 14th-seeded Utah Jazz. In the Eastern Conference, the red-hot Milwaukee Bucks have cooled off, while the Boston Celtics appear to be piecing together a working rotation. Teams like the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies have surprised the league, while the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz have done nothing but disappoint. Let’s take a look at two former Texas Longhorns around the league who are on teams struggling in the standings.
The Brooklyn Nets were off to a seemingly good start after multiple seasons of subpar performances. The Nets were an improved 8–10 just a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the Nets have now lost their last seven games. While the Nets appeared to be headed toward competing for a possible playoff spot, they are now 11th in the East.
Former Longhorn Jarrett Allen was playing well early in the losing streak, but has seen his production dip substantially in the last two games. Allen has averaged 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists and three turnovers on a decent 63 percent from the field in a shade over 28 minutes per game. In the two-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, Allen got handled by fellow Longhorn Tristan Thompson. Thompson outscored and outrebounded Allen, while also getting to the free throw line four times.
The Nets had a chance to end the losing streak on Monday night against the Cavaliers, but with games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors coming up, it seems unlikely their losing streak will end any time soon.
The Houston Rockets were one game away from the NBA Finals last year, but came up a bit short against the eventual champions. This year has been the exact opposite. The 11–12 Rockets find themselves as the 13th seed in an extremely competitive Western Conference. Injuries to key players Chris Paul and James Harden have plagued their season a quarter of the way through. The Rockets have struggled to be consistent from three this season, shooting 2 percent worse as a team this season compared to last.
Texas alumnus P.J. Tucker had largely been impervious to the shooting slump affecting his teammates. Tucker is attempting one more three per game while simultaneously shooting a career-best from beyond the arc.
Unfortunately, that hot shooting came crashing down in Monday night’s 12-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tucker scored three points on 1/6 from three in a little over 36 minutes of play. The Rockets had a 19-point lead during the game but still lost by 12 after managing to score only nine points in the fourth quarter.
The Rockets are reaching an easy part of their schedule with games against the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz coming up, but the Rockets need to take the games seriously if they want to fight their way back into the playoff race.