GM Daryl Morey: Rockets always talk being more aggressive

ByCalvin Watkins ESPN logo
Thursday, January 21, 2016

HOUSTON -- The Rockets' strategy to intentionally foul Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond some 21 times on Wednesday came from significant input from the front office, though interim coachJ.B. Bickerstaff made the final call.

That's what general manager Daryl Morey told ESPN, one day after his team watched Drummond miss an NBA-record 23 free throws in the Pistons' 123-114 win.

"It's a constant dialogue about being more aggressive. It's something that's debated and discussed," Morey said. "Dynamically we had in terms of how the final decision-making goes down; J.B. always makes the final decision."

Morey said with center Dwight Howard spraining his ankle less than a minute into Wednesday's game, it changed the thought process of the team when it came to an aggressive approach on intentional fouls.

Morey said talking strategy to Rockets coaches isn't new. Former Rockets coach Kevin McHale used an aggressive approach on the Hack-a-Shaq tactic with DeAndre Jordan in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers last season.

But this time around, Rockets players didn't seem happy with the strategy and even complained to the Pistons bench about it.

"They understand what was going on," Bickerstaff said of his players after Thursday's film session. "So, it's over with. We move on and try to beat Milwaukee [on Friday.]"

Bickerstaff started little-used second-year forward K.J. McDaniels in the second half, and he fouled Drummond five times in less than 10 seconds. McDaniels said he had no problems committing the fouls because he wanted to help his teammates.

Rockets veterans had some issues with it, though.

"Am I a fan of it? Do I like it? No. Not really," veteran forward Trevor Ariza. "But if that's what the game plan is, that's what you have to go out there and do."

James Harden said the flow of the game was affected by what happened.

"It was draining. We couldn't get stops when we needed to," Harden said. "We didn't have a rhythm offensively. We made some shots, we got back into the game, defensively we didn't have a rhythm, so they scored a couple of buckets and had to figure it out from there."

Drummond attempted a career- and franchise-record 36 free throws and missed an NBA-record 23. He was fouled 12 consecutive times in the third quarter. Opposing coaches typically wave bye to each other after games, but on Wednesday, Bickerstaff shook hands with Pistons counterpart Stan Van Gundy and chatted with him.

Asked what was said, Bickerstaff said, "I just told him good game, that's it."

Van Gundy, meanwhile, had plenty to say about the strategy Wednesday, saying banning it only will happen if fans turn away from the game, forcing commissioner Adam Silver to act.

"Adam Silver and the league, they've decided that's the way they want to play the game," Van Gundy said. "And that's what they want people to watch. So as long as the fans are OK with watching it, then we'll continue to play that way. At some point, the fans will say we're not going to pay to watch this; we're going to flip the channels. They haven't yet -- that's what Adam keeps saying -- and when they do, then the league will have to make an adjustment. That's not up to us. Our job is to just coach the game within the rules. I don't decide what people what to watch that's up to Adam and his people."

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