Rockets’ Russell Westbrook took over Mike D’Antoni-led meeting after loss to Blazers
The Houston Rockets had yet another disappointing outing, losing against another sub .500 team on Wednesday night, this time on national television, as they took an L at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Russell Westbrook, who led the way with a 31-point, 11-rebound, 12-assist triple-double, was the only one who talked in a pin-drop quiet Houston locker room, soon taking over a team meeting called by head coach Mike D’Antoni, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Russell Westbrook walked into a quiet locker room, ranting as always. The loss stung, especially to the Blazers — a team that had knocked him out of the playoffs and ridiculed his offseason.
“F***ing sitting there, talking that s**t. F*** ’em,” he said, preaching to the rest of his head-hung teammates as they walked with him to the locker room.
While D’Antoni had called the meeting originally, it was Westbrook who spoke up and addressed the team — urging a call to action after the Rockets have lost three of their last four games, slipping closer to a Dallas Mavericks team only a half-game away from fifth place.
Westbrook emphasized energy and effort, especially during January, a month known as the dog days of the NBA season — past the holiday season and not quite the All-Star break just yet.
“You’re gonna have nights like tonight where people got things to say after,” said Austin Rivers. “Nothing negative, I can really honestly say that. Everything was positive. Russell really led the way. Russell was the only one who really talked. He just kind of addressed the team and things we have to do better as a unit, as a whole. And everybody agreed with him, so it was a good talk.”
James Harden, who attempted 10 fewer shots than his backcourt mate in what felt more like Westbrook’s return game than Carmelo Anthony’s, chipped in with a few thoughts.
“Obviously there’s a lot of different emotions,” Harden added. “Everybody’s their own person that feels some type of way about whatever’s going on individually and as a unit, so you speak about it and get it off your chest.”
Westbrook has been known to be a strong and vocal leader, but only time will tell if his rah-rah spirit will actually help an unimpressive Rockets team get back on the horse and help them make some waves in the West, or if it’s merely words falling on deaf ears.