Kelvin Sampson Is Trying to Keep the Rockets Focused in the Wake of Adversity

November 30, 2012 – 10:00 am by Chris Fedor

The past two weeks have been extremely trying on the Houston Rockets both on the court and off it. On the court, the Rockets have dealt with some injuries and they have gone just 3-4 in their last seven games. But off the court it gets much more serious and the news is even worse. Head Coach Kevin McHale, who has been on leave since November 10th, lost his daughter last Saturday and there’s no telling when McHale will return to the sidelines. In the meantime, interim coach Kelvin Sampson has been giving the responsibility of trying to keep his players focused on the court and navigate the team through some really tough waters.

Kelvin Sampson joined KBME in Houston with Charlie and Lance to talk about whether he has gotten rest after a long week, what he was thinking about when the ball went up in the air against Oklahoma City, on the latest on the injury to Chandler Parsons and trying to avenge an earlier loss to Utah this weekend.

Whether he has gotten rest after a long week:

“I hope our players did. They certainly had a tough couple of days but we took today off, we will come back tomorrow and have good preparation for Utah and get ready to play Utah Saturday.”

What he was thinking about when the ball went up in the air against Oklahoma City:

“First of all getting off to a good start. I actually thought we did. We were right there in the first quarter but when we went to our bench we didn’t get the production that we had been getting, mainly because our bench guys were in the starting lineup. Not only losing Chandler (Parsons) but having Carlos Delfino out, he’s been out I think seven games now and that’s a big hit for us because he’s a true guard. Having to play Marcus Morris at the three really isn’t fair to Marcus. He’s not a perimeter defender and he’s not a perimeter player. He’s a stretch, base four and he guards other fours. He can guard perimeter four guys like Ryan Anderson from New Orleans, Matt Bonner from San Antonio, guys like that and putting him on Kevin Durant that’s a tough matchup for anybody especially a guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience defending on the perimeter so so we knew our bench was thin and that’s a tough place to play regardless. If we had three days rest it’s still a tough place to win but we wanted to give ourselves a chance. The guys that played they believed. In the locker room at halftime we felt like if we could come out in the third quarter and put a dent in the lead, we had it down to 10 a couple of times but it was even. We played the third quarter even and even early in the fourth you’re getting two or three stops and making a little bit of a mini run, they call timeout, we’re down four, five, six or seven or somewhere in there and you just never know what is going to happen but that’s what we we’re playing for and that’s what we were thinking.”

What the latest is on the injury to Chandler Parsons:

“It looks like it’s a soft tissue injury. He was in there early this morning. He was in the trainers room at 9:00. He had an MRI early this morning and it looks like it’s soft tissue. I know they were planning on doing another one and I don’t know the reason why for that but they’re going to do another one. I know he was getting treatment at 9:00 and he was in there at noon so he spent the entire morning getting treatment. I think Carlos is getting close and I think there’s a good chance Carlos and Chandler both can play Saturday and that will obviously help our bench because our main bench guy is Carlos and it gets Chandler back in the starting lineup which gets us up to speed.”

On trying to avenge an earlier loss against Utah this weekend:

“I’m with you. We’re not going to make or miss the playoffs based on losing in Oklahoma City. There’s a lot of teams that are going to lose there but the game on Saturday is a different story. If we’re going to make the playoffs then we have to win games like this. Utah is a good team and I think they’re 7-0 at home. We played them on a back-to-back so we knew that was going to be a tough game but this is an opportunity for us to balance the books and get back on the winning track. We’re coming off three home wins, I think our fans are getting a little excited about their team as they should, hopefully we will be back at full strength and we will get after it on Saturday.”

Listen to Kelvin Sampson on KBME in Houston here

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