21 Sep

Allardyce accepts criticism

first_img Allardyce has come in for criticism from some Hammers fans over the football played by the team this season but is focused on taking the east London club forward. He was the target of abuse again during Saturday’s 1-0 Barclays Premier League loss at West Brom, his side’s fourth straight defeat. Boos and chants were hurled at him from the away section at the Hawthorns, and a banner was held aloft which read: “Fat Sam out, killing WHU”. Allardyce oversaw West Ham’s promotion to the top flight in his first season in charge and then guided them to a 10th-placed finish last term. While he admits he did not like being on the end of such vitriol, he could understand why the criticism was being voiced and emphasised that he accepted it he because he was “responsible”. Asked if the hostility would make him consider his future over the summer, Allardyce said: “We all get it at some stage or another, no matter where we are or who we are with. “If we are not winning football matches, we all get criticised. “Fans are showing their disapproval quicker than at any other time I’ve known in the last 20 years or so. “So we have to accept that change in the game and try to keep them happy as best we can – and the best way to do that is to win football matches. “My responsibility is to build a better team than this one. That is my responsibility, along with the owners – making sure that everything gets put into place in the hope that next season we can be better than this season. “Overall this season we haven’t really been as good as we should have been and we haven’t really produced as many results as we should have done. So getting better and improving that is the highest thing on the agenda. Press Association West Ham manager Sam Allardyce feels football fans are quicker to vent their frustration now than ever before in his management career. “I’m well aware of the situation in terms of how we have to finish the season off – as high as we possibly can, in terms of performances and results. “And also, I know there is a huge amount of work to be done in the summer – hopefully for me to make the squad better.” West Ham are 14th in the table on 37 points, five above the relegation zone with two more games to play. When it was put to him that his side may well already be safe, Allardyce said: “It is possible, but there is nothing in my make-up that says we should therefore take it easy. “I’ve been saying to the players for the last few weeks that the game is about results, not going out and playing games of football and losing. It is about going out and trying to win. “I think the disappointing thing is, whether we are safe or not, we have lost four games on the trot and we really should not have allowed ourselves to have done that on the basis that, going into that period, we had won six out of the last nine.” West Brom’s win, secured by Saido Berahino’s close-range strike in the 11th minute, saw them take a major step towards survival. Albion are 15th in the table and four points clear of the drop zone with three more matches left. It was also their first victory at home since Pepe Mel’s appointment as head coach in January. In a tenure that has been difficult for various reasons, things have not been made any easier for the Spaniard by the doubt over his future in the role, something he admits he is in the dark about himself. But he was in understandably positive mood after Saturday’s triumph, which he felt left his side “pretty much safe”. West Brom collected just four points and registered no victories in Mel’s first seven matches in charge, but have taken 11 points and won three times in the seven games that have followed. And asked if he wanted to carry on with the job, he said: “Of course. “I think the job is only half done, and if I’m given the opportunity, I think I can do a good job here. “I really am extremely happy for the fans. “(During the West Ham match) they have once again shown that they are the best in the Premier League, and we were all able to go home happy.” last_img read more

8 Sep

Modric Emerges Best Player of Russia 2018

first_img*Mbappe, Kane, Courtois  also on winners listBy Duro Ikhazuagbe in MoscowLuka Modric was confirmed as the best player at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia after the official awards were announced last night. The Croatian midfielder won the adidas Golden Ball which is awarded to the best player by the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG). Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann came second and third respectively.The adidas Golden Boot was won by Harry Kane with 6 goals. Antoine Griezmann collected the Silver Boot while Romelu Lukaku won the Bronze.Belgium’s Goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, collected the adidas Golden Glove while Spain took the FIFA Fair Play Trophy. The FIFA Young Player Award went to Kylian Mbappe . Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Spain emerged the winner of the Fair Play trophy with a prize tag of $50,000 while Mbappe also bagged the Young Player of the Year trophy.last_img read more

13 Aug

Pinot conquers Tourmalet as ‘weak’ Thomas fades in finale

first_imgFrance’s Thibaut Pinot raises his fist in victory after stage 14Paris, France | AFP | Thibaut Pinot conquered the Pyrenean summit of la Col du Tourmalet on Saturday with Julian Alaphilippe following him across the line to extend his overall Tour de France lead over defending champion Geraint Thomas, who admitted to feeling “weak”.Thomas, in fact, lost time for a second day running.After saying he had overheated when losing time Friday, he dropped another 29 seconds in the overall after being distanced by the lead group at the death.“I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start really to be honest — just quite weak,” said the 33-year-old Ineos man, claiming he had limited his losses. “So I decided to go at my own pace.”For British outfit Ineos, however, their co-captain Egan Bernal can go into the most mountainous culmination of a Tour in years in full confidence after he finished just a few seconds behind the winner at the first of seven summit finishes over 2000 metres.Pinot had vowed to attack this stage after losing time to an Ineos-led attack in a crosswind on the narrow road to Albi on Monday had angered him and his team.Thomas has two Frenchman to worry about and is now two minutes and two seconds behind Alaphilippe in the general classification after he started to suffer with 500 metres to go on Saturday.Alaphilippe was as surprised as anyone at Thomas wilting.“I saw great riders blow up before me and in the end I went for the win, it’s incredible,” said the 27-year-old soldier.French president Emmanuel Macron followed the whole stage from the lead car in the vast caravan and appeared animated as he was flanked on the podium by his two compatriots.“This man has heart,” he said looking at France’s current national hero Alaphilippe.On both the leader and Pinot, he added: “France is proud of them both.”As the 117km stage 14 climbed above the tree-line and above the mist where the oxygen levels were lower, contenders for the overall victory gradually fell by the wayside.By the end there were just five men remaining with Dutch Jumbo Visma captain Steven Kruijswijk third at 6sec, with German Emanuel Buchmann and Bernal another two seconds behind.Not only Ineos, but their rivals too may now switch their attention to young climber Bernal in light of Thomas’s underwhelming show. “Yesterday was one of the worst days of my career,” said the 22-year-old Bernal whose slender frame is unsuited to time-trialling.“Today I feel much better, the ascent was very hard and the best thing about it was managing to be amongst the best riders at the front.”– Pinot gets revenge on Ineos –Few expected the yellow jersey wearer Alaphilippe to thrive on Friday’s time-trial, which he won, and fewer still expected him to survive on the Tourmalet.But Alaphilippe dug deep and when he climbed out of the saddle to win the sprint for second, cheers for him were even louder than those for the popular Pinot.But after 10 stages in the lead, the attention switched from the overall leader to the stage winner.“Since the start of the Tour I’ve been targeting this stage, this is the one I wanted, the mythical Tourmalet,” said Pinot, who is placed sixth overall, 3mins 12sec off Alaphilippe.Pinot has long been thought a potential champion this year with the home nation waiting for its first Tour de France win since 1985.Fans had been weaving up the Tourmalet since dawn and there was a carnival atmosphere with almost as many Basque flags as French ones.Pinot, helped up the hill by young French champion David Gaudu, never faltered on the long final climb and his team boss at FDJ Marc Madiot was ecstatic at the finish.Madiot had been upset by comments from Ineos boss Dave Brailsford on Monday when Pinot dropped down the rankings after getting caught in a crosswind.“It feels good to twist the knife,” Brailsford said Monday.Madiot was seen screaming “yes, yes, yes” at the finish line before racing off to embrace his team leader.Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more

26 Dec

Burnley deal for Swansea’s Sam Clucas falls through

first_imgBurnley’s move for Sam Clucas has collapsed.The Clarets had a bid of £8million accepted by Swansea City for the midfielder last week. Sam Clucas looks set to stay at Swansea 1center_img But they have been unable to agree personal terms with the 27-year-old and he will not be moving to Turf Moor.Clucas cost Swansea a club-record fee of around £16million when he moved from Hull City last summer.He impressed in his 29 appearances for the club in the Premier League, scoring three times, but was unable to help prevent the Swans from being relegated.Clucas is understood to be keen to stay in the top-flight and did not feature in Swansea’s opening game of the Championship season last weekend, a 2-1 win over Sheffield United.But he could now stay at the Liberty Stadium after the failure of his proposed switch to Burnley, although there is understood to be interest in him from other Premier League clubs.last_img read more

21 Dec

Half-time: Everton 2 QPR 0

first_imgNikica Jelavic – a transfer target for QPR – scored just before half-time to leave them facing an uphill task in the FA Cup third round clash at Goodison Park.Jelavic, making his first start since September, netted from near the edge of the penalty area after Ross Barkley had put Everton ahead.With keeper Julio Cesar making his first appearance of the season, Rangers were on the back foot for most of the first half.Cesar saved from Jelavic at his near post and was also able to gather shots from Barkley and Gareth Barry.Gary O’Neil missed a great chance to put QPR ahead against the run of play, failing to connect with Danny Simpson’s 24th-minute cross from the right when it seemed easier to score.Rangers were soon under pressure again and Cesar produced a fine save from Barkley, with Leon Osman failing to hit the target from the rebound.But the Brazilian could do nothing when Barkley fired home after being found by Bryan Oviedo’s clever pass.And worse followed for Rangers following Simpson’s poor pass to Karl Henry, who was robbed by Barry.The ball broke to Jelavic and the Croatian striker sent an unstoppable shot beyond Cesar.Everton: Robles, Coleman, Oviedo, Stones, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Barry, Naismith, Barkley, Osman, Jelavic.Subs: Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga, Pienaar, Mirallas, Vellios, Lukaku.QPR: Cesar, Simpson, Onuoha, Hill, Assou-Ekotto, Traore, Phillips, Barton, Henry, O’Neil, Austin.Subs: Murphy, Dunne, Johnson, Onyewu, Kranjcar, Zamora, Benayoun.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

18 Dec

Help clean South Africa ‘to honour Madiba’

first_img10 July 2014 The government has called on all South Africans to honour former president Nelson Mandela by actively participating in the Clean South Africa campaign this Mandela Month. The campaign was first mooted by President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address last month, when he called on South Africans to begin planning for a major clean-up of cities, towns, townships, villages and schools. Speaking to reporters in Pretoria on Thursday following the Cabinet’s latest fortnightly meeting, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said a Clean South Africa award would be presented to the country’s top three municipalities for Mandela Month. “We all have a responsibility to honour [Mandela’s] life by cleaning, improving and beautifying our communities,” Muthambi said. Celebrated across the globe in honour of the late statesman’s birthday on 18 July, the day gives everyone the opportunity to emulate Mandela’s role as public servant. “Mandela Day is not only about doing good, it is about service,” Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang said at the launch of this year’s event in April. “It is an opportunity to build upon Mr Mandela’s lifelong belief that we must live to serve every day, in whatever we do.” Mandela Day, Hatang said, creates an opportunity for society’s “haves” and “have nots” to work together to confront social ills within their communities and to build a better world. This year’s Mandela Day will be particularly symbolic in that it offers South Africans, and the world, an occasion to honour the ethos of the late Mr Mandela in the year that marks South Africa’s 20th year of democracy. The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Mandela at his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in 2008, when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.” The United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, recognising Mandela’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity” and acknowledging his contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”. The Mandela Day campaign asks that individuals, groups and corporates pledge 67 minutes of their time on 18 July, and every day thereafter, to give back. This can be by supporting a charity or serving the community. No matter how small the action, the aim is to change the world for the better – just as Mandela did. SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

28 Nov

What’s on where and when

first_imgMay 06-07: USABetter known as ‘The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports’ the Kentucky Derby is one of the most awaited and popular horse races in the United States. The lucky winner walks away with a whopping two million dollars! www.kentuckyderby.comMay 07: AustraliaThe Cairns Blues Festival is back with a bang. Expect 12 hours of non-stop music, including performances by popular artistes from across the country such as Eric Bibb, Ian Moss, Phil Manning. The food stalls are exciting too. www.cairnsbluesfestival.com.auMay 11-22: FranceMeant for those who are passionate about cinema, one of the most revered film festivals, Cannes Film Festival is here again. The opening film is Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Gear up to watch stars walk down the red carpet. www.roadtrips.comMay 15-17: IndiaSkating, boat and horse races, tug of war, traditional Rajasthani food, cultural performances are just few of the things you’ll get to see at the Summer Festival in Mount Abu. Spectacular fireworks on the third day concludes this.May 16-23: Trinidad & TobagoExperience life down under at the Tobago Underwater Carnival. With activities such as underwater photography contests, seminars on diving, this is for anyone who loves watersports and the Caribbean. www. tobagounderwater carnival.comMay 17-Jun 05: FranceOne of the most awaited tennis championships, French Open is back. Hosted by one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world, Paris, you can watch pros in action as they fight for the coveted title at Roland Garros. www.fft.frMay 19-22: USAAt the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, you’ll get to learn a few traditions associated with Southern food from the US. All activities are divided into three themes: Old Traditions, New Traditions and Imports and Inspirations. http://atlfoodandwinefestival.comMay 22: DenmarkThe Copenhagen Marathon is only for serious runners as you have to run the entire course and there are no half measures. You will start and finish at Islands Brygge and run through some famous landmarks along the way. www.copenhagenmarathon.dk/enMay 24-28: UKThe Chelsea Flower Show is a truly a treat for the eyes. Wherever you look, you’ll see a mind boggling variety of flowers laid out across the lawns. There are smaller gardens too, designed by leading landscape architects. www.rhs.org.ukMay 26-29: Hong KongAttention art lovers, if you are in Hong Kong, don’t miss the Hong Kong International Art Fair. On display will be paintings and sculptures from artists around the world, including names such as Maxwell Hearn and Jan Stuart. http://hongkongartfair.comadvertisementlast_img read more

12 Oct

London Mayor Sadiq Khan named UK Politician of the Year

first_imgLondon: London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been named the Politician of the Year at an annual awards ceremony held in the UK’s House of Commons complex for his ongoing contribution to the political life in the British capital. The annual Political and Public Life Awards presented by Britain’s ‘Asian Voice’ weekly newspaper here on Thursday also recognised UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson as Cabinet Minister of the Year and Indian-origin politician Priti Patel as Conservative Party MP of the Year. “Our armed forces are made strong by being made up of people of every single community and background… contributing to keep us safe,” said Williamson, on receiving his award. “I continue to be your public servant,” added Patel, a former UK Cabinet minister. Khan, 48, whose grandparents were born in India and parents migrated from Pakistan to the UK, was named ‘Politician of the Year’ at an awards ceremony held in the UK’s House of Commons complex. Among other winners from the field of politics at the event, now in its 13th year, included Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, Labour Party MPs Dan Carden and Thelma Walker. The other award categories included International Hotel of Year which was won by India’s Leela International hotel chain. Comedian of Year award went to British Indian comedian Paul Chowdhry and Restaurant of the Year for London’s Delhi street food restaurant Hankies. “We are hosting the Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards at a time when dissent is rife, and arguably unprecedented, in our political stage and the future of the economy hangs in the balance, perhaps perilously so,” said C B Patel, the Publisher and Editor of ‘Asian Voice’. “In the din and tumult of the current scenario, I believe it is important for us to recognise and honour leaders in our political and public life who make a tremendous contribution to preserving Britain’s enviable stature as one of the leading economies of the world,” he said. The awards are held annually to honour people who have made a special impact in the preceding 12 months, ranging from international politicians to individuals who make an impact in their local communities. Readers of the weekly ‘Asian Voice’ newspaper nominate potential winners and an independent panel of judges comprising eminent personalities from different walks of life in the UK, select the winners.last_img read more

28 Sep

The US Mens Soccer Team Is Bungling Its Way To The World

To make the World Cup every four years, the United States men’s national team needs to do the bare minimum — that usually entails not being worse than teams from a couple of Central American or Caribbean countries that have a GDP roughly 0.1 percent the size of ours. In Honduras on Tuesday night, the USMNT delivered on that promise: They accomplished the bare minimum.A late Bobby Wood goal secured a 1-1 draw, salvaged a crucial road point and calmed anxiety about the U.S. qualifying for next summer’s World Cup. According to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, the U.S. now has a 69 percent chance of qualifying. Of course, those odds are more a reflection of the forgiving nature of the Hex, the round-robin CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournament, than the U.S. men’s skill. Six teams enter, three leave with a World Cup bid, and the fourth-place team can still score a spot by beating the fifth-place Asian qualifier.The path to qualification is easy, so it’s still likely that the U.S. team will be off to Russia next summer, but they’ve used up much of their margin for error. As it stands, there’s no scenario in which the U.S. can qualify for the World Cup before the final match in Trinidad and Tobago. The last time the U.S. was still hoping to clinch a spot entering its final game was heading into the 1990 World Cup, basically the dawn of modern American soccer. Even if things go perfectly next month, when they take on Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, this will still go down as the team’s worst modern qualifying campaign.Now the U.S. is faced with two simple questions. What the heck is wrong with this team? And can it be fixed?Where the U.S. went wrongThe problem right now isn’t so much that the U.S. team is bad. It’s not. The problem is that the U.S. was really bad last year when this phase of qualification started, and it hasn’t really ever made up for it. Jurgen Klinsmann was fired two games into the USMNT’s final-round qualifying bid, after a home loss against Mexico and a 4-0 thumping away to Costa Rica. The team was a mess, and Bruce Arena was brought in to stabilize the ship. And he did. In his first four games in charge, he led the team to two home wins and two road draws, the exact kind of record that leads to easy qualification. But the record didn’t earn back any of the points the team dropped in its first two games. Arena stopped the bleeding, but he didn’t fill in the hole that Klinsmann had dug.That left that the men’s team vulnerable to a single bad match — like the match last Friday, in which Costa Rica beat the U.S. 2-0 in New Jersey. Realistically, Arena’s team didn’t play all that badly. The USMNT outshot its opponents 14-9 and produced a 1.26 to 0.62 expected goal advantage. Arena’s men conceded an early goal thanks to some poor positioning from central defenders Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream and some questionable goalkeeping from Tim Howard. Then they were denied a second-half equalizer when Costa Rica’s goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, made an absolutely inhuman save on a shot from U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic that took a wicked deflection. If either the blown defense or the amazing save had gone slightly differently, the game looks different, the qualifying campaign looks different, and the answer to the question of “What is wrong with the team?” is basically “Nothing.” This team as currently constituted is just about good enough to qualify for the World Cup. The problem is that it isn’t much better than that.Fixing what’s wrongArena’s emergency stabilization job was built around two main pillars. First, he handed the keys of the attack to teenage superstar Pulisic, and second, he narrowed midfielder Michael Bradley’s responsibilities, shifting him from the hub of the team to a more traditional deep-lying playmaker. Everything around them has been in flux. Personnel has changed, formations have changed, tactical approaches have changed.Without much continuity, the team ends up in trouble when the game plan breaks down. Against Costa Rica last week, the defense was badly exposed without protection from midfield. Cameron and Ream were both called upon to step into midfield frequently and neither were able to do the job. And against Honduras this week, the attack sputtered when Pulisic wasn’t able to get on the ball. Since starting to play with the senior national team, he’s averaged 53 touches per 90 minutes, but against Honduras he only got 42, and the U.S. struggled to create chances without his influence.The defensive problems will likely sort themselves out eventually. The team is currently missing half of its starting defense, as both John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin are injured. If they get healthy and back on the field, the defense will immediately take a step in the right direction.On the attack side, the solution is less clear-cut. Pulisic is the team’s crown jewel, and it’s Arena’s job to figure out which players in his fairly deep attacking talent pool best complement the young star. Arena has yet to settle on the best combination. Pulisic has played as a winger in a front three, as a wide midfielder with two strikers in front of him, and as the attacking midfielder at the tip of a diamond. In the last two games alone, he played with four different strikers in Wood, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris. Settling on a more consistent lineup might not only help get the best out of Pulisic but also allow the U.S. to develop a more effective plan B for those times an opponent is able to take Pulisic out of the match.Arena is facing the same challenges all managers do. He has to balance the need for short-term results against the desire to develop a team that over the medium term can steadily improve and peak at the right moment. Up until this week, it seemed like he had gotten the balance mostly right, winning enough to put the U.S. solidly on course while also developing a basic plan. This week, that plan broke down. Now October’s matches can’t serve as a platform to help build the team for the future; instead, they’re all about short-term goals.There’s nothing wrong with this team that time can’t fix. But with two must-win games on the horizon, time is the one thing this team doesn’t have. read more

28 Sep

Nearly Every Team Is Playing Like The Rockets And Thats Hurting The

During that 2016-17 season, though, five other teams exceeded the Moreyball Rate of the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who had the highest non-Rockets Moreyball Rate of any team from 2012 through 2016. That incredible jump from one-sixth of the league foreshadowed what has happened since: The league’s Moreyball Rate has been rising far faster than it did during the McHale years, meaning that the Rockets’ math advantage is once again shrinking, through no fault of their own offensive priorities.While the average Moreyball Rate jumped only 3.7 percentage points from 2012 (58.1 percent) through 2016 (60.8 percent), it has rocketed (pun very much intended) all the way up to 68.3 percent in 2019. That’s a jump of 7.5 percentage points in just three seasons, compared with the four it took to erase a smaller advantage for the previous incarnation of the Rockets. And at the same time that the NBA’s average Moreyball Rate has shot through the roof, the Rockets themselves have once again stalled out. They appear to have hit a ceiling in terms of how many of their shots can really be taken from the most efficient areas of the floor.Houston’s sky-high Moreyball Rates during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons helped them to two of the most efficient offensive seasons in NBA history. During that 2016-17 campaign, the Rockets registered the 10th-best offensive efficiency in NBA history, per Basketball-Reference. During the 2017-18 season, they posted the 11th-best offensive efficiency in history. And during both seasons, the Rockets led the NBA in Moreyball Rate by a healthy margin, even while the league as a whole was catching up.This year, however, they don’t even lead the league in Moreyball Rate, marking the first time since the 2011-12 campaign that they’ve fallen out of first place. (They’ve been passed by Mike Budenholzer’s Milwaukee Bucks, who are at 82.6 percent, the highest figure that can be gleaned from the shot location data in NBA.com’s database, which reaches back to the 1996-97 season.) Amazingly, Houston’s Morey+ this season has already dropped below where it was during the 2015-16 season that inspired Morey to bring in D’Antoni in the first place. And even while they’ve cleaned up their defense a bit these past two years, the rate at which leaguewide Moreyball Rates are spiking has left their Moreyball Advantage at the lowest point it’s been in years.It seems unlikely that other NBA teams will simply stop pursuing shots from the Moreyball areas of the floor, so the league average will presumably continue to rise — if not necessarily at quite the rate it has these past few years. And with the Rockets having seemingly maxed out their own Moreyball Rates in the low 80s, it looks like the best way for them to regain the sky-high Moreyball Advantage they had in the early 2010s is by engineering their defense so that opponents simply can’t access the most efficient areas of the floor. But that’s also what every other team in the league has been trying to do to the Rockets for years, and as they’ve been showing us for quite some time now, it’s easier said than done. By attempting so many more of their shots from the most efficient areas of the floor than any other team, the Rockets created for themselves a healthy math advantage. Through shot selection alone, they essentially began each game with a small lead that their opponents needed to erase in addition to out-scoring them over the course of 48 minutes in order to win the game.For the next three seasons under Kevin McHale, however, the Rockets’ Moreyball Rate stayed fairly stagnant. They still led the NBA in Moreyball Rate during each of those seasons, but they did so with rates that hovered between 72.6 and 73.8 percent. At the same time, the league average Moreyball Rate crept upward, eating into the Rockets’ math advantage and, by extension, that small de facto lead with which they began every game.This is perhaps best exemplified by scaling their Moreyball Rate against the league average. Fans familiar with baseball statistics like OPS+ will recognize this formula: The NBA average Moreyball Rate is given a score of 100, while a team whose Moreyball Rate is 10 percent better than league average receives a Morey+ score of 110, and a team whose Moreyball Rate is 10 percent worse than league average receives a Morey+ score of 90. So, in a world where the league average Moreyball Rate is 50 percent, a team with a 55 percent Moreyball Rate has a Morey+ of 110, while a team with a 45 percent Moreyball Rate has a Morey+ of 90.Using the same formula, we can calculate that during the 2012-13 season when the Rockets had a Moreyball Rate of 73.6 percent against a league average of 57.1 percent, they had a Morey+ of 129.1, meaning they attempted shots in the restricted area or from three-point territory at a rate 29.1 percent higher than that of the average NBA team. That is a ridiculously high mark. But it was also essentially the high-water mark for the McHale-era Rockets, whose Morey+ plummeted over the next few seasons, though not through any offensive fault of their own.At the same time the Rockets’ math advantage on offense was shrinking, the same thing was happening on the defensive end of the court. During that 2012-13 campaign, the Rockets did an excellent job of limiting their opponents’ attempts from the Moreyball areas of the floor. Slowly but surely, however, they ended up yielding better and better shots, and their opponents’ Moreyball Rate crept upward at an even faster rate than the league average.The decline of the Rockets’ math advantage during that time looks even starker when pitting their offense and defense against each other. At the same time as they were shooting 29.1 percent more often from Moreyball areas than the average team in 2012-13, they were forcing opponents to shoot from those areas 3.2 percent less often than the average squad. Add those two numbers up, and the Rockets had a Moreyball Advantage of 32.2 points during that season. By the time they got to the 2015-16 campaign, however, their Moreyball Advantage had been cut by more than half (to 13.8 points).During those four years, the Rockets were the only team to have a Moreyball Rate above 68.8 percent, but the average team still gained steadily gained on them, and their ability to prevent their own opponents from getting to Moreyball areas declined as well. And it was then that Morey decided to hire Mike D’Antoni. Because if the Rockets couldn’t stop the rest of the league from following their lead in following The Math, then the next-best option was for them to take The Math to new heights.In D’Antoni’s first season, the Rockets had a Moreyball Rate of 81.8 percent, blasting the previous league highs they’d set over the prior few seasons. That 81.8 percent figure was, obviously, the highest in the NBA by far, making it the fifth consecutive season during which the Rockets led the league. Crucially, that rate bumped their Morey+ all the way back up to 128.8 — almost all the way back to where it was during that 2012-13 campaign, when the Rockets first began truly orienting their offense around The Math. Morey+ score* for the Houston Rockets 2018-19119.8– Winners of five straight games, the Houston Rockets nudged their record back up to their season-high mark of two games over .500 (16-14) with a blowout win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, during which they set an NBA record by making 26 3-pointers. Despite this hot streak, however, it’s still fair to say that the Rockets have not performed as expected thus far this season. When searching for reasons why that might be the case, the focus has often been on their inability to replicate last season’s switch-happy defense or the early-season injuries and suspensions they had to weather or their general offensive malaise. (If ranking fifth in offensive efficiency can be described as a malaise.) But the root of Houston’s issues may actually just be that the rest of the league is increasingly subscribing to Houston’s core beliefs, which has eaten into the team’s math advantage.To fully understand what that means and how that’s happened, we need to back up a bit. Daryl Morey has been the general manager of the Rockets since 2007, but it wasn’t until the 2012-13 season that the purest form of Morey’s basketball philosophies truly began to shine through on the floor.Coming off three consecutive non-playoff seasons and having just traded for James Harden, the Rockets re-engineered their offense to play not only to their new star’s strengths, but also to The Math. It was during that season that the Rockets began their maniacal pursuit of the most efficient shot on every single possession, turning their collective backs on years of NBA tradition by eschewing the lost art of the mid-range jumper whenever possible in favor of attempts either at the rim or behind the three-point line.It’s easy to see the benefits of that offensive strategy now — six years after the Rockets took it to what then seemed like its logical extreme — but at the time, it was not yet really accepted that this was a healthy way to construct an offense. Not everybody believed in The Math. The Rockets did, however, and they did to a degree that was then unheard of in league history.During that 2012-13 campaign, the Rockets attempted 73.6 percent of their shots from either the restricted area or three-point range, per NBA.com. (For the balance of this piece, we’ll refer to this percentage as a team’s “Moreyball Rate,” in keeping with certain segments of the basketball analytics community.) The next closest team was the Denver Nuggets at 67.4 percent, while the average NBA team had a Moreyball Rate of 57.1 percent. SeasonMorey+ score 2012-13129.1– * A rating where 100 equals the NBA average and every point above or below 100 equals a one percent change (up or down). 2013-14124.8– 2017-18126.1– 2015-16120.1– 2016-17128.8– 2014-15125.3– read more