The Rockets did not deny that their trade-deadline moves were unlikely to help this season.
Replacing Aaron Brooks with Goran Dragic has a chance to help with Brooks in a deep slump that might need a change of scenery to resolve. But the return of Shane Battier to Memphis for DeMarre Carroll, Hasheem Thabeet and a first-round draft pick is not for this season. Battier was starting, playing 32 minutes a night and serving as the Rockets' unquestioned mentor and leader.
Thabeet and Carroll are unlikely to play meaningful minutes.
The Rockets made the moves to get something before Brooks and Battier would likely leave as free agents. The deals were not popular, and clearly they were not the choice of a coach in the last season of his contract.
"I'm disappointed losing two guys that meant a lot to our success," Rick Adelman said. "The challenge is still the same, trying to win games down the stretch here. Different guys will have a chance to step up."
Adelman had nothing to say about the apparent mixed message of making deals based on future seasons one day then asking the players to focus on this season's games the next.
"You'll have to ask the powers to be about that," Adelman said. "My job is still the same. Before the trading deadline, we were trying to win games, get back in the hunt. To me, it's the same challenge. I can care less what other people are thinking. Whatever the reasons were, you have to move past that and take up the challenge.
"I look at the team today. In 3 1/2 years since I came here, we have only two guys left, Luis (Scola) and Chuck (Hayes). That's not a lot of stability. I came to coach Yao (Ming) and Tracy (McGrady) and ended up with Luis and Chuck. It is kind of amazing those are the only two guys left. I told them, 'This is the group we have. What are you going to make of it?' That is the same approach I have to take."
Kevin Martin said the day after the deadline was "a sad day for our organization." Kyle Lowry called it "upsetting" and said, "I wish they didn't do it." Courtney Lee said, "It hurts our team somewhat."
But Hayes captured the team's mood best.
"It sucks," Hayes said.
ROCKETS 123, NETS 108: The Rockets, as has become their custom, did not bother to play any defense early. But as has also become the recent trend, they did not need to. They scored with ease from the start. The roster-altering trades that sent away Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks did not change the team's M.O. much. The Rockets scored a season-high 71 points in the first half, had a season-high 33 assists and a season-best 29 fast-break points. They did not stop scoring until Chase Budinger had followed his 30-point game with 27, Kevin Martin had a second consecutive 30-point game, and Houston had a 22-point lead with two minutes remaining.
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