The Rockets boast one of the best defenses in the NBA in 2023-24. They are pesky defenders and have been known to annoy the hell out of their opponents with their physicality and psychological warfare (thanks Dillon Brooks). On Saturday, however, Udoka felt that identity was nowhere to be seen as the Lakers dominated and led by as much as 19 points before settling for the 107-97 victory.
In his postgame presser, Udoka called out his Rockets and emphasized that they shouldn't be “punked” like that. They were prepared for the physicality that the Lakers would bring, so to not do anything about it come game time isn't really an encouraging sign.
“To kinda get punked by a team that's not known for physicality or punking people is not a good sign,” Udoka explained, via ClutchPoints.
"To kinda get punked by a team that's not known for physicality or punking people is not a good sign."
Rockets head coach Ime Udoka on the loss last night against the Lakers 👀pic.twitter.com/AthVLMfk4W
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 3, 2023
Ime Udoka couldn't have said it any better for sure. The Rockets didn't make it difficult for the Lakers at all compared to their previous meetings, with Anthony Davis even having his way as he finished with 27 points on 45.5 percent shooting along with 14 rebounds, three assists and five blocks.
If the Rockets want to compete for the top spots in the tough Western Conference, they cannot afford to play like they did on Saturday. If they do, the other top dogs in the conference will only “punk” them even more, as Udoka said it.
The Rockets have a few days of break before returning to action on Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Co. should be a good test for the team as they look to recapture that identity that was a no-show the last time out.