The Houston Rockets lost 124-111 to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night at the Toyota Center, and the final score doesn’t even show just quite how ugly things got for the Rockets during the game. In fact, the turmoil got so bad that one Rockets player even left the arena mid-game.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Houston assistant coach John Lucas called out multiple Rockets players at halftime (when Houston was losing 77-55), including point guard Kevin Porter Jr. and big man Christian Wood.
Porter Jr. had a heated exchange with Lucas and proceeded to throw an object before leaving the arena at halftime, according to Charania.
Wood was reportedly benched to begin the game after missing a mandatory COVID testing window, and Lucas also called out Wood’s “effort level.” Wood then refused to enter the game in the second half.
Sources: After Rockets assistant John Lucas called out multiple players including Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood at halftime tonight vs. Nuggets, Porter had a heated exchange with Lucas, threw an object and promptly left the arena – and Wood refused to sub into second half.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 2, 2022
Sources: Wood was benched to start the loss to Denver after missing a mandatory COVID-19 testing window. Lucas called out entire team at halftime, and focused on Wood's effort level. Porter had a heated exchange with the longtime assistant, and drove out of arena at halftime. https://t.co/24oAwV2GqC
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 2, 2022
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim McMahon of ESPN, “Porter became upset after assistant coach John Lucas challenged him, revisiting an issue that led to Porter losing his composure on the bench during the first half, sources said.”
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 2, 2022
Additionally, the Rockets announced that Porter was questionable to return in the second half due to a thigh injury, but that’s not why he was nowhere to be seen in the second half, according to Wojnarowski and McMahon:
“The Rockets announced during the second half that Porter was questionable to return due to his left thigh being evaluated. Porter has been bothered for weeks by a left thigh contusion, causing him to miss several games, but that was not the issue that led to his absence after halftime, according to sources.”
According to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, the Rockets have spoken to Porter, and “he’s apologetic for the overreaction.”
Per a team source, the Rockets have since spoken to Porter Jr. since the halftime incident and he’s apologetic for the overreaction. https://t.co/nogc86tcqq
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) January 2, 2022
Porter, 21, entered Saturday night’s game averaging 13.0 points, 5.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on the season as Houston’s starting point guard. He was traded to Houston by the Cleveland Cavaliers last January after he had a locker room outburst (about his locker being moved).
Wood, 26, came into Saturday averaging 17.3 points, 10.6 rebounds, after averaging 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds last season.
So, Porter and Wood are very talented players, and it will be interesting to see how Houston handles this situation.
Here’s a look at how the NBA world has reacted to the Rockets’ drama:
Embarrassing for KPJ, Wood. https://t.co/iXil1uEN5O
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) January 2, 2022
John Lucas is one of the most balanced and positive individuals I have known. I know for a fact he has praised those two a ton and now they can’t handle hardcore criticism in front of their peers when he had something to say! Those two better get apologies in order quickly! https://t.co/xfty23BEKU
— Eddie A Johnson (@Jumpshot8) January 2, 2022
The good news:
1. Wood is likely not a part of HOU’s future & will probably get traded
2. KPJ was acquired with a fake pick as a development project. So if he doesn’t work out, that’s fine
— Roosh (@RooshWilliams) January 2, 2022
CP3 hamstring injury
Bad officiating in Game 7 vs GSW
House bubble incident
Harden trade request
Rockets fans have been through it all
— arxan (@arxanii) January 2, 2022
So Wood breaks a team rule and gets benched and then KPJ buggers off at half time after losing his temper. Awesome stuff.
— Josh Lloyd (@redrock_bball) January 2, 2022
John Lucas is gonna let KPJ cool off and they'll smooth things over. I'm not too worried about that right now unless something else happens. This is his first incident in Houston, losing+emotions finally came to a boil.
Wood's effort level has been a problem all season though.
— Rob Kimbell (@RobKSports) January 2, 2022
Massively talented, but dude has stuff he needs to work out https://t.co/oLKm8BZM4n
— Tony Gill (@thetonygill) January 2, 2022
— 3030 (@jose3030) January 2, 2022
I'm definitely giving up on the idea of getting legit value for Wood in a trade.
Still not giving up on the KPJ dream. But it's looking rough man
— DGC (@Itamar_17_10) January 2, 2022
KPJ has…a history. I’ll take Christian Wood for scraps. https://t.co/MAKb93Tq5t
— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) January 2, 2022
KPJ gonna be hooping in Kazakhstan if he keeps this up. https://t.co/AQMItqDzal
— Ahmed/Not A Lakers Fan 🇸🇴 (@big_business_) January 2, 2022
We entered this season with literally no expectations, and yet somehow someway I have been disappointed by Houston Rockets basketball. https://t.co/USUCB8XsTB
— ᵂᴵᴸᴸ biased 🚀 (@BiasedHouston) January 2, 2022