New to the NBA as the bulk of the Rockets might be, it did not take long to understand the reality of an 82-game season.

They won't be defined by their recent seven-game losing streak any more than they were by the five-game winning streak that preceded it. Determining what kind of team they will be, however, could come next.

The Rockets' January schedule always was to be just about survival. Despite the crash, they have done that, with the late rally to win 100-94 Monday in Charlotte moving the Rockets to 22-21 and still (barely) among the Western Conference's top eight teams.

But they return home (briefly) with repairs to be made that could go a long way toward determining what they will be this season.

"We haven't had the opportunity to get in the practice gym," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "This was going to be a tough, tough part of our schedule. With our team, we definitely need some gym time and some us time where we can stop and correct stuff. We have to improve, and we will."

The low point was Saturday's loss to Minnesota. Though the Rockets were playing their fourth game in five nights, they were playing a team with half the roster out with illness or injury and keyed by players who signed 10-day contracts that day.

Players clear the air

After the loss, with Rockets forward Chandler Parsons suggesting his teammates were not taking the defeats hard enough, they cleared the air in a players-only dinner.

"We're going to go through tough times together," Parsons said. "We're going to go through great times together. Sometimes teams get numb to losing and it doesn't bother them as much. I think with us, it's got to hurt us more to lose than it is good to win.

"The film doesn't lie. We see who needs to do what and where we need to get better."