HOUSTON The job is only halfway complete, and while Rockets coach Kevin McHale intently stressed the importance of focusing on the Raptors first and then the Jazz after that, even he could admit that the Rockets are better in the categories in which he hoped they'd improve.
His training camp buzzwords of defense and cohesion would have rung hollow had the Rockets not made strides in those targeted areas. And while they are far from a finished product, the Rockets (20-14) have shown signs of undergoing the culture change McHale harped on just last week.
"The best players in our league do their thing over and over, and they do it consistently," McHale said. "The best teams do it consistently. Everybody in our league is capable of going off and having 20 points. The great players do it every, single night. The great teams go out and give a great effort every night. You can count on what they're going to do.
"That's what we've tried to evolve into, where we can count on our defense,...