Rockets Game 3 notebook: Stephen Silas uses daunting schedule as lecture

For the first time as Houston Rockets coach, Stephen Silas is 0-3 at the start of a new season. But instead of being bitter, Silas left the Fiserv Forum arena encouraged by the fight and the efforts of his team.

The Rockets lost their third straight game in a 125-105 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. The Bucks took an 11-0 lead early in the first quarter and never gave up.

Houston’s 20-point loss was no proof of a lack of talent. The Rockets’ loss in Milwaukee had more to do with Houston opening the 2022-23 campaign with an arduous schedule – which also included the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies.

“The start of the game was the game, the hammer they hit us with from the start,” Silas said. “From the start when it was 41-23 in the first quarter, we played them even for the rest of the game, but we were fighting uphill.”

“Against a championship-caliber team, you have to lock yourself in from the start. But the back-to-back wore us down.”

The Rockets faced the Bucks 24 hours after a tough home loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night.

Silas credited the trip and a demanding back-to-back schedule with the loss. But understanding that a daunting schedule is the nature of the NBA, Silas used the first three games as a talk show for his young body.

The Rockets played two of their first three games on the road and their opponents won by an average margin of 50 games last season.

Starting the season 0-3 is disappointing for a team that aspires to be the most surprising team in the NBA. But Silas believes the Rockets’ continued development will benefit from the rocky three-game start.

“We’re on fire at the start of the season to find out where we are,” Silas said. “These are good learning moments for our group. And I hope we can learn from every moment to grow and do better next time.”

Usman Garuba shows his potential

Usman Garuba started in place of Burno Fernando, who missed his first game of the season with a knee injury.

Silas said he inserted Garuba into the starting lineup to use his speed and physicality to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the win over the Rockets, Antetokounmpo scored 44 points on 17 of 21 shooting in just 28 minutes. He also added 12 rebounds and three assists.

Although Garuba’s defensive efforts didn’t help the Rockets contain Antetokounmpo. Garuba still managed to take advantage of the opportunity.

He recorded eight rebounds, six points and four steals in his season debut, showing why management still views the sophomore prospect as a promising defensive player.

Quick hits:

-Jabari Smith Jr. recorded his first double-double of his career with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

-Jalen Green scored a team-best 22 points on 6-of-19 shooting and is averaging 23.7 points to start his sophomore season.

-After missing the first game of the season with a knee injury, Silas doesn’t know how long Fernando will be out.

Angela C. Hale