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For the first time in his two-year career with the Rockets, Christian Wood didn’t start in Saturday’s home loss versus Denver, and he didn’t play at all in the second half. Kevin Porter Jr. started but did not play in the second half, with the team initially describing his absence as due to a left thigh injury (which cost him 15 games earlier this season).

Head coach Stephen Silas — citing a spirited halftime debate while signaling his disapproval of Houston’s defense — said postgame that Wood was disciplined for violating a team rule and that Porter was still being evaluated. However, it appears there was much more to the story, and it all went down during the halftime break at Toyota Center.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. left Toyota Center on Saturday after halftime following a heated exchange in the locker room with Rockets coaches, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Porter lost his temper after the team’s poor first half and reacted when Stephen Silas and assistant coach John Lucas were critical of the team’s play.

The Rockets have not determined if they will take any disciplinary action.

From Shams Charania of The Athletic:

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.

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.

From Tim MacMahon and Adrian Wojnarowski 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.

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.

A source said that potential discipline, if any, for Porter has yet to be determined.

The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Porter to the Rockets last January for a top-55-protected second-round pick after deciding to move on from their former first-round pick due to off-court issues, which led to Porter being inactive for the beginning of the 2020-21 season. The Cavaliers announced their intention to trade or release Porter, the No. 30 overall pick in the 2019 draft, after he had an outburst regarding the moving of his locker to a different section of the locker room in mid-January.

Houston gave up 77 first-half points and 47 in the second quarter to the Nuggets, which allowed an early 11-point lead for the Rockets to turn into a 24-point deficit prior to halftime. Wood did not score in his 8 minutes on the floor, and the Rockets were -17 in that time period.

Teammate Jae’Sean Tate said postgame that he did not want to discuss what happened in the locker room during Saturday’s halftime. The Rockets were much later than usual in their return to the court.


Stephen Silas disappointed in Rockets’ effort on Saturday, cites ‘spirited debate’ at halftime

Stephen Silas benches Christian Wood for violating Rockets’ team rules


Seven-game skid: Jalen Green scores 29, but Denver blasts Rockets’ defense