Posted on: February 2, 2009 4:46 pm

Can the Rockets do it again?

There are five games until the All Star Break, there is no reason the Rockets shouldn’t have a six game winning streak going into the break.  Not one team they play has a winning record, so like I said, there is no reason the rockets shouldn’t have a six game winning streak.  The thing the Rockets can’t seem to do is, BEAT THE TEAMS THEY SHOULD BE BEATING!  The Rockets have lost to teams like the Grizzlies and Wizards, bottom of the league teams.   They have been swept by the Pacers and 76ers, lost to the Knicks and struggled against numerous other poor teams.  So can they have the six game streak heading into the break?  If they can they have a good shot at rolling with a ten game winning streak, going for eleven against the Cavaliers on February 26.  If they can win that game the Rockets have a good chance to run off another 6 to 8 games, seems a bit like last year huh?  The key is to beat the teams that they are supposed to beat and win the games against top tier teams, to prove they are a legit contender.  The exciting thing is that the Rockets will have more home games this second half of the season than away, since they played the second most road games in the NBA in the first half of the season.  The Rockets schedule would seem to encourage them to make a push for the top seed in the Western Conference.

I think if you asked any Rockets fan that they would say that this season has been a disappointment.  They are still on pace to win over 50 games but these days, 50 wins won’t cut it if you want to be considered a team to reckon with.  We thought we would be a top five team in the NBA, some even my self thought we would be a top two team.  Right now the Rockets are lucky to be considered in the top ten.  Injuries have plagued the Rockets season, benching two of our stars, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest.  The Rocket though have fought hard with there deep bench and reserves.  Von Wafer has stepped up with Carl Landry; Aaron Brooks was big early on though he is struggling with his shot as of late.  Rafer Alstons’ play has also been erratic, he is the best choice at getting the Rockets into their offense, and he just needs to knock down his open shots.  Yao Ming still is not getting consistent calls from the refs and it looks more and more like he never will.  At times Yao is an unstoppable force in the paint, then the next game he seems to disappear.  Part of this is the refs and part I think is that he just gets tired and can’t be as physical as the other teams.  The hard part for a lot of fans is how the Rockets have seemed to play with McGrady out of the line up.  McGrady took his time off to get his body back into shape.  He hasn’t looked to bad but the the offense as a whole just doesn’t flow as well as when he was out.  I don’t think the Rockets can make a push for the title this year with out him.  I also don’t think that in this point in time we could get much for him.  I have heard a lot of people calling for him to be traded.  With Artests contract up at the end of the year I think we have to hope that McGrady can pick his game up for the remainder of the year and increase his trade value.  Then the Rockets can re-evaluate at the end of the year if they can’t pull a championship out of this season.

For now the Rockets need to take one game at a time, don’t look ahead.  Win the games you are supposed to win, play like champions when you are up against teams that have good records.  We have to hope, along with the Rockets that they can stay healthy.  Remember, it was the Warriors game last year on January 29th that the Rockets took off on their memorable 22 game winning streak.  This year we beat them on the 31st, can we make it one more memorable season, with a trip to the finals this year?  I think they have it in them, I really do.

Posted on: January 13, 2009 2:31 pm

T-Mac and Artest....shutdown.

Tracy McGrady has been shut down.  I say, it’s about time!  It has been very painful to watch him play injured, if you can even call what he was doing “playing”.  The Houston Rockets decided that they would give him two weeks to, “condition” his need back into shape.  As I started writing this blog the Rockets also report Ron Artest will be out for 7-10 days.  Artest has a bone bruise on his ankle, the ankle he sprained back on November 16.  He has tried to play through the pain but the playing may have actually caused the bruise; now the Rockets want him to heal.  He will be reevaluated after the ten days.  Artest and McGrady are two of the “Big Three”, with Yao Ming being the third of the group.  While Yao has played all but one game McGrady and Artest have missed a combined 19 games, McGrady 11; Artest 8.  Artest is the Rockets second leading scorer and McGrady third on the list. The “deep” bench the Rockets have will pick up the slack in the stars absence, like they have been doing all season long. 

McGrady has taken the brunt of the outrage between the two stars for missing games, and in my opinion, it is justified.  Against the Raptors, McGrady gave a wide open dunk on a fast break that was appalling.  He has been sluggish on offence not moving out of a 5 foot area, watching his teammates, while waiting for the ball so he could heave up fade away jumpers from a foot inside the 3 point line.  One of the hardest things to watch is how McGrady plays his defense, you won’t see it in a box score, you’ll have to watch the game to really know what is going on.  I have watched the games; I recorded them so I could watch them over again.  McGrady plays lazy defense, often being left in the dust by players’ executing back cuts for wide open dunks and lay-ups.  This is not the kind of defense that will help a team win; one weak link and the whole machine will fail.  Artest on the other hand would bring the defensive intensity to the team and a toughness that would lack when McGrady would play.  Artest would also have trouble on the offensive end by dribbling to much and not moving the ball around.  Neither player would cut to the hoop; this was causing too much stalling of the offense.  Rick Adlemans offense needs good passing and cuts to the basket.  With two injured stars, none of this was happening.

So were do the Rockets stand now?  For at least 10 days they will know who is going to play and who is not, there will finally be consistency.  Shane Battier is back from injury and will be starting.  Von Wafer and Luther Head will also see more minutes.  Von Wafer is one player who is really taking advantage of the injuries to his teammates.  It is actually quite refreshing to see Wafer out on the court.  He has been doing things that no other Rocket will do, he moves without the ball, takes the ball to the rim, and has hit some huge shots.  Aaron Brooks seems to have come out of his shooting slump so I expect him to get a few more minutes since Rafer Alston can’t his outside shots to save his life.  The bottom line is that Yao Ming must step up and dominate games; he must hit his shots and command double teams.  When the double teams come, he must make good passes and repost for better position.  If Yao can do these things it should open up shots for his teammates out on the perimeter.  The Rockets have a chance now to prove to the league, and them selves that they are a good team without McGrady.

What if the Rockets look good without McGrady, what if they look better when Artest returns?  What if McGrady appears to get better and is able to play again?  What do the Rockets do?  Should he be traded, or do they keep him and keep his minutes around 25-30 minutes a game.   I don’t think the Rockets will get too far in the playoffs without him, but he has got to be healthy.  These questions may start to be answered in the next week or two.  For now the Rockets have decided to shut down two of their stars.  For now the Rockets have opted for some consistency in their line up, instead of playing the guessing game.  Thank goodness!

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 2, 2009 5:21 pm

A Happy "New Year"

The Rockets have played 6 games since my last blog post; they went .500 over those games. They looked like a .500 team playing in those games. It is now 2009, a "NEW YEAR", and I would like to say that a lot of things still need to change for the Rockets to succeed this season. Poor outside shooting, health, no one to attack the rim, and some bad foul calls all have continued to hurt the Rockets. Will these things change with the New Year here?

The Rockets have played 33 games, they are 21-12, and there are 20 games until the All Star Break. Can the Rockets pull off an amazing 20 game winning streak? It is possible since we are playing just a handful of teams with records over .500 but as we have learned in ’08 the Rockets can’t take nights off or games for granted. The West will probably once again have 9 teams fighting for 8 playoff spots, with it being a close race just like last year. Toyota Center is notorious for it poor shooting conditions so I don’t even know if we could have a home court advantage playing there. You obviously want to be a top 4 seed, though you may just pull a better first round matchup with a lower seed. All the Rockets can do is play hard and win the games they are "supposed" to win and fight to win the games that are versus top teams.

The Rockets made a huge pick up getting Dikembe Mutombo to back up Yao Ming. He doesn’t bring a lot of scoring to the floor, but he will help shut down the middle when Yao Ming is out. Now the second team will have some defense to go with their added scoring they bring when they come in the game. All year we have been waiting for the Rockets to get a back up, and Deke gave up more money to play in other place, taking $800,000 for the rest of the year to play with the Rockets. They expect him to be a very vocal leader in the locker room and on the floor. I can’t wait to see that first finger wag!

Tracy McGrady has not produced. He leads the team in assists per game but is shooting dreadfully. I really don’t care that he is getting assists, those assist are still there when he is not playing. As a team the Rockets actually average more assists per game, 20.6, when McGrady is out, compared to 19.7 when he plays. So the Rockets get fewer assists and a guy that can’t even shoot 40% when T-Mac plays. Not to mention he can’t even play defense on mediocre players. I think it is time to just sit him down and let him heal for a month rather to continue like this. He won’t even be playing in games when there are back to backs, give me a break; he is not the key to the team winning, SIT HIM DOWN! It is absolutely nuts that he is second to Kobe Bryant in All Star voting for guards.

Yao Ming is going to be a tired man at the end of the season. He takes a beating night in and night out and gets no help from the officiating. They continue to make horrible calls against him and they let people beat him all night long, ever game. Thank goodness we have Deke for some back up defense. I hope Carl Landry and Luis Scola can keep up some inside scoring when Yao goes out.

The Rockets still need a guy who can get to the rim. Aaron Brooks can get down there but really doesn’t finish to much because he is just a bit to small. I like Von Wafer and he is a great slasher, who likes to get to the rim. There just aren’t any minutes for him in the line up since Luther Head seems to be the back up to McGrady. With Shane Battier to miss the next six games he may find some time back in the line up though.

The Rockets are 27th in the NBA in shooting percentage and it is really affecting them in the 4th quarter. Yao tends to get rest when the 4th starts. In the last several games with around 5 minutes left to play in the 4 quarter the Rockets have been shooting like 1-10, 2- 13, and 1-9 in the final period. It has cost them games and it has made, what should be and easy win, a close game. The offense needs to pick up the slack when Yao is out. Ron Artest has proven that he can get inside and score in the post, using his strength to get through defenders. The key though is for the guards to hit the outside shots. If they could put the ball in the hoop the Rockets obviously get the points but it would also open things up for Yao a little more. Teams wouldn’t be so quick to collapse down on to Yao for fear of being hit for three pointers.

There are 49 games left to play before the "second season" starts. I hope the Rockets can get some things changed around and perform the way we know they can. Well maybe we don’t "know" they can but it sure looks like they should when you look at them on paper. Here is to the Rockets having a great "NEW YEAR"!

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 20, 2008 1:41 pm

Gosh......that is "FOUL"!!!!!

I hope that the word doesn’t get out on the street.  What’s the word?  The word is “Physical”, that is how you play the Rockets if you want to beat them.  The Rockets have lost to some of the worst teams in the NBA; they lost to the Grizzles and the Clippers last week.  Both of those game the other teams were very physical with the Rockets.  It has seemed that the refs are not going to call fouls on teams for hanging all over Yao Ming, or pushing, or grabbing him.  So if they won’t call it, you better do it!  I get furious with the refs at times.  It seems that they still don’t give Yao the respect an All Star player in his 7th year deserves.  Remember when the Lakers were the top team in the NBA, winning with Shaq in the middle?  They said it was so unfair because you couldn’t guard Shaq, you had to play physical, you had to grab and push.  Strange thing is that they would call fouls, Shaq would get to the line, and teams got in foul trouble.  Now Shaq is on the down side of his career and Yao is becoming the premier center in the NBA, and Yao can’t get the calls that Shaq was getting years ago.  Yao is attempting 6.7 free throws a game, fewest he has attempted in the last 3 years.  He is 11th in the league in attempts per game; I think he should be in the top 5.  In the 17 wins with Yao Ming in the line up he has averaged 7.5 attempts a game, in the losses 5.2 a game.  The strange thing is that when the Rockets lose, opponents get more fouls called, 21.5 a game, compared to 21.2 when the Rockets win the game, those numbers are almost identical.  So what does this mean?  To me it means a couple things.  It means that obviously Yao isn’t getting the calls.  I have watched the games, they have fouled him, and there have not been calls.  This also shows that when Yao struggles he gets fewer touches.  I found kind of a crazy stat for the Celtics, Rockets game.  Kendrick Perkins, one of the NBAs most physical defenders, was only called for two fouls and Yao Ming didn’t go to the line once!  The Rockets had a chance to win this game, you will never make me believe that Yao Ming can go a whole game without getting fouled once while shooting, it doesn’t happen. 

I know I am a Houston fan and I obviously look a lot harder for these fouls when the Rockets are playing.  Fact is some are flat out obvious calls that are missed.  Like I stated before the fouls called on other teams is almost identical when we win or when we lose.  I really believe that it is just the way the crews’ ref the play against Yao.  All the Rockets can do is continue to run the offense through Yao, good things will happen.  Yao creates open shots for teammates and has learned to repost after the kick out, to get a closer look for the next entry pass. 

On some other notes, the injury bug strikes again sitting Rafer Alston down with a hamstring injury.  Steve Francis dressed for the Nuggets game and was spotted by myself on the bench looking like a sad state of affairs.  You can tell the guy wants to play so badly.  “How Sweet It Is”, Tracy McGrady got his first triple-double of the season!

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 11, 2008 10:02 pm

Rockets Quarter Season Report

Eight weeks of the NBA season are over. The Rockets have played twenty-two games— 26% of their schedule; their season is now a quarter of the way done. I am disappointed that they are 14-8; I think it is safe to say a lot of people are disappointed in this. The Rockets have lacked ball movement this year and have relied on too much one-on-one play, while at times seeming to give up on the defensive end. Injuries are once again slowing the Rockets’ progress, which is not the answer we wanted at the beginning of the year when the huge question was, "Can the Rockets stay healthy?" Yao Ming has missed one game; Ron Artest has missed one, although he played hurt in several more when he probably should have been sitting. Tracy McGrady, one of the biggest question marks as far as health goes coming into the season, has missed seven games, already a third of the games the Rockets have played. You then have Shane Battier, who has missed sixteen games and wasn’t even ready for the beginning of the season. Twenty-two games in, and I don’t think we have seen our best line up or rotation for a game yet. So, a quarter of the way in, and here are my grades for the Houston Rockets.

Rockets as a team: B

The Rockets have played through injuries to sit at the top of the Southwest Division with a 14-8 record. Like last year, they have won their games with defense. They are fourth in the league in defense, allowing 92.6 PPG and seventh in opp. FG%, holding teams to 43.8% shooting. They are third in the league in free throw shooting, but that is their only good shooting stat. The Rockets have shot lower on the year than their opponents, 43.3%, for 26th in the league. They rank 22nd in points per game and 26th in the league for assists. The Rockets "Big 3" hasn’t been so big this year, but they do have three other players scoring in double figures: Luis Scola, Aaron Brooks, and Rafer Alston. At the end of the year they could be looking back at losses to the likes of the Grizzlies, Pacers, and Spurs as the difference between a 3rd and a 6th seed. The Rockets have played down to bad teams and failed to close good teams out. Interesting notes are that when the Rockets score 100pts or more, they are 8-0; they are 2-5 when allowing 100 pts. or more. They are 27th in the NBA in blocked shots. When will they get another big?

Yao Ming: B

It has seemed at times a struggle to get the ball to Yao in the post. Yao, in my opinion, is the key to the Rockets’ success. Yao has played in twenty-one games; they are 14-7 with him in the line up. In those fourteen wins, Yao has averaged 21ppg, shot 57.9%, averaged 10.7 REBS, and 2 assists. In the seven losses, he has averaged 13.9 ppg, shot 40.7%, averaged 7.7 REBS, and 0.4 assists. Those two stat lines themselves demonstrate that all offense must go through Yao Ming. He must demand the ball, own the paint, and make smart passes when the double and triple teams come.  His teamate need to realize this also, and GET HIM THE BALL! 

Luis Scola: B

Scola gets the start but splits a lot of time with Carl Landry. Scola has not played well against the higher caliber Power Forwards in the league on defense. It is his ability to draw the charge or grab an offensive rebound that gets him his grade. He is shooting 48% for the year and averaging 11.2 PPG and 7.7 rebounds in 27 minutes a game. Not a bad running mate for Yao Ming on the front lines.  He is usually picking up the slack when no other starters can find the bottom of the net.

Ron Artest: C

I like the energy Artest brought to the Rockets at the beginning of the season. He has played great defense all year, taking on the better guards every game while Battier has been out. As the addition to T-Mac and Yao, he is the third of the "Big 3." People wondered how he would fit in. I don’t think he has found himself on the team yet. He averages the most shots per game on the team at 14.6; that is where I want Yao to be. What makes that stat even worse is that Artest is shooting 35% on the year; Artest has never shot under 40 for a season. This leads me to believe he is forcing his game, trying to fit in. Like Yao, his numbers drop dramatically in losses for the Rockets. In fourteen wins, he has averaged 16.9 ppg, 38% FG, 42% 3PTFG, and 3.8 assists. In the seven losses, he has averaged 13.7 ppg, 30.5% FG, 36% 3PTFG, and 2.1 assists. He has been battling a bad ankle, and when McGrady gets back, I look for him to sit out a couple games to let it heal up a bit.

Tracy McGrady: C

Goodness sakes, can this guy get healthy? He hasn’t been 100% yet this year, and has already missed seven games. He is shooting 40% for the season, 3% less than his career average. Unlike Yao and Artest, whose scoring goes down in losses, McGrady’s actually goes up, but his other stats drop just like the other guys. In ten wins, he has averaged 15.2 ppg, 44% FG, and 48.5% 3PTFG. In the five losses, he has averaged 16.4 ppg, 35.9% FG, and 26.7% 3PTFG. I think this line goes to show that with T-Mac, less is more. Although he scores more in the defeats, it is because he is taking more shots and missing them. It must be hard for a two-time scoring champion to realize he isn’t his team’s best scoring option, but he needs to realize it. I think T-Mac could serve well as the decoy/second option, drawing the double team and moving the ball, trying to get others the open looks.

Rafer Alston: C

Alston’s play in the last several games saved him from getting a "D" in these first grades of the year. Alston is shooting 37% on the season. He is averaging 11.8 PPG, but that comes from heaving up the third most shots on the team. Alston is averaging 5.1 assists a game. I would like to see that go up, but the whole team needs to shoot better for that to happen. Alston was a huge part of the Rockets’ success last year, and they really need him to step up his game if they want to contend this year.

Bench: B

The stars of the bench have to be Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry. Brooks has been a huge surprise this year, spelling Alston. Brooks has doubled his scoring from last season and is in double figures this year, scoring 10.5 ppg, shooting 44% from the field and 39% from the 3PT line. Landry is shooting a team high of 56% but has struggled with foul trouble when he gets in the game. I like the way Von Wafer has stepped up since McGrady went down, cutting through the lane, and getting to the hoop. It seems he is the only guy on the team dunking the ball. Chuck Hayes is our 6’6" back-up center. He is horrible on offense,(shooting 30%), and should never touch the ball; he is one of our better defenders on the other end of the floor. Although Luther Head scored 21 in a win versus the Spurs, I am disappointed in him and Brent Barry. They are both shooting less than 30% from the 3PT line for the year. Barry was brought here to give leadership and to hit outside shot; with his injury he really hasn’t done either of those things. Head is an undersized shooting guard already; we don’t need him out there if he can’t make better than 27.3% of his threes. The Rockets need a back-up center on this bench. When Yao goes out, they have no height at all. They might be able to survive in an 82-game season but, in the playoffs, they will need a back-up to Yao.

Coach Rick Adelman: C

I know that there have been injuries, but why is it that he can’t get the Rockets to grasp his offense? He continually says that the players are not doing what he asks of them. His offense uses good ball movement, and the Rockets seem to do a lot of dribbling. I like Adelman; I hope he succeeds, and I know he wants to win. He needs to get these guys on the same page.

Posted on: December 2, 2008 10:42 pm

1-2 for the week, we look weak.

Six weeks of the season completed as of today, we sit atop the SW Division at 11-7, and by next Tuesday we will have completed just a hair over a quarter of the season. I plan to grade out the starting 5 and bench next Tuesday, so look out for that.

The Rockets had 3 games last week, they went 1-2, and that was unacceptable. Tracy McGrady didn’t play all week long due to his soar knee and will be taking the next 3 weeks off. The Rockets shot 40% for the week, with the only game above 40% being versus the Spurs, where they shot 48%. Luther Head, started for T-Mac and was the player of the game dropping 21 points for the Rockets in the win. The Pacers knocked Yao Ming out of the game with an elbow to the eye; he later returned but couldn’t hit his shots shooting 5-14 with 19 points in the first loss of the week. As a team the Rockets shot a week low 34%, Artest heaved up 21 shots, only making 6. The Nuggets shot 48% and took advantage of the Rockets small guards with Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith being their high scorers for that game. The Rockets played without Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier, and Brent Barry and they still had a chance to win with 7:30 left in the game. Unfortunately Head missed a wide open 3 pointer which started a scoring drought for the Rockets and the Nuggets scored on their next 4 possessions.

The Rockets need to get healthy; the injury bug is starting to attack them already. The question at the beginning of the season was "Can the Rockets stay healthy"? So far the answer is no. T-Mac was told the best way to rehab his knee was to play on it. After limping up and down the court game after game and only dropping 6 points on the Heat, he decided to sit it down. Yao has missed 1 game and Battier 16. There still is no word on picking up a back up center. The Rockets lack height and with McGrady out and Head starting it makes them even smaller. Carl Landry has picked up his game in the last two weeks. Early in the season he was getting into foul trouble as soon as he checked in. He has cut back on his fouls and has been splitting time with Louis Scola, sometimes even logging more minutes than Scola and it is showing with some nice offensive games.

Looking ahead the Rockets have 4 games this week and I think they will be winning all 4. The biggest test will be next Tuesday versus the Hawks, but I think they should pass it. Ron Artest is shooting 34% for the season and needs to let the game come to him instead of forcing so many shots. He will need to step up his scoring with McGrady out. Steve Francis is ready to return to practice and says he is ready to work his way into the lineup. With the injuries so far this season I doubt we have seen the rotation that the Rockets will be using after the All Star break. It is hard to play consistent basketball when you don’t have stability in your lineup. Obviously they wont start to get it this week, but I hope with McGrady out the Rockets will use this as an opportunity to really establish Yao Ming as the Center of their offense. Everything must go through him; they must continue to get him the ball down on the low box instead of the elbow extended. If they can do this the Rockets should be on a 4 game winning streak after next Tuesday, a quarter of the way into the season.

Posted on: November 25, 2008 10:15 pm

4 wins in 5 games!

The Rockets finished off an eight day stretch with 4 wins on the road and just one loss at home against the Mavericks. Yao Ming sat out for the game against Dallas and the Rockets looked horrible without an inside presence. Yao Ming’s absence may have been a blessing in disguise for the team. In the 3 games since his return, the Rockets appear as if they want to run the entire offense through him. All year long the Rockets have been playing one on one basketball, dribbling around the court, not moving the ball, and players are looking for their own shot instead of working as a team to get the open look. Could this be a new Rockets team?

Rick Adelman likes to use a big man as a passer in his offenses. Yao Ming is a great passer and standing at 7’6", he can see over most defenders. Since Yao’s return, I have seen him wait on the double team to come to him instead of passing quickly as he had been earlier in the year. When you move the ball around out of a double team, you need to have good quick passes, but when you have a "big" like Yao, he has to hold the ball a bit longer to get the defense out of position, and then move that ball around swiftly while the defense scrambles to react. The Rockets seem to have grasped this concept, and in the 3 games since his return, they have shot 46 percent as a team, which is around 6 percent higher than their season average. Running the offense through Yao also has always been beneficial at the end of games. In the past week, the Rockets have closed games instead of blowing them in the 4th quarter, like we saw vs. the Spurs.

The Rockets played decent offense last week in their games. They shot 47% in away games, and a lowly 37%at home, averaging 45% for the week. It has been said that the Toyota Center is not a shooter friendly gym and that most players shoot below their average there, including Tracy McGrady. I would say that our "Big 3" raised their game last week. T-Mac shot 46%, Artest 43%, and Yao Ming 65%. Rafer Alston continued to struggle, shooting just 38% last week, which was 2% higher than his average for the season. What really blows my mind is that he and Artest tied for the most shots in the last 5 games at 65 shots a piece. Now I don’t really mind Artest getting that many shots, but Rafer Alston, who has shot the ball at 36% for the year doesn’t need to be taking that many shots. The Rockets dominated the boards in all the games they won, and lost the rebounding edge in the loss against the Mavericks.

There was also some good news last week in the return of Shane Battier. Battier is getting on the floor running 5 on 5 now, and building back the stamina in his foot and ankle. With Ron Artest on the team, I think the Rockets will not rush Battier back into play, but instead will keep him out until he’s 100% to minimize the chance of him aggravating his injury. It will be interesting to see how Battier affects the line up in his return. I think Brent Barry will be the one to see his minutes decline the most followed by Chuck Hayes. Barry does have veteran leadership, but he hasn’t shot the ball well for most of the season. I think we will see him a little more towards the end of the season after he finds his shot. Chuck Hayes seems to be our back up at the Center position, but with Battier and Artest on the floor, I think the coach might run with Carl Landry more as the back up since you can put Artest at the PF. We will see what he decides to do, but we still need a 7 footer on the team; we are just too small after Yao.

Posted on: November 16, 2008 11:17 pm

End of the road trip & Hornets game.

Can anyone figure out these Houston Rockets? I sure can’t and if the rest of the year goes the way these first 10 games have, the Rockets fans are going to be stressed all year long. I thought we would finish 3-2 on our west coast road trip, and after our first three games, I knew it would be tough. I figured they would fall to the Suns and roll over the Spurs, leaving us 2-3. After they beat the Suns I thought they had a chance at the 3-2 since the Spurs havn't played well at the begining of the year.  The Rockets dominated the Suns pretty much the entire game with Tracy McGrady coming out of his shooting slump and leading the Rockets to victory. They were looking good on Friday until the final 7 minutes of the 4th quarter when they couldn’t score at all and let the Spurs beat them. So in the end it was a 2-3 road trip against some title contenders in the West.  Then the Rockets came back on Saturday and played well against the Hornets. Go figure. I hate when a team plays down to their opponent’s level, but it sure seems like that has been the Rockets calling card this season.

Suns game: The Rockets defended the power forward position better than they had all year, played good team defense and also moved the ball well. Houston limited the one on one play and shot 45%, which is around 5% higher than their season average. The Rockets continued to get blasted on the offensive glass letting the Suns pull down 16 rebounds, but held them to just 37% shooting for the game. That was probably the key stat to the game since the Suns have shot better than 50% for the year and are one of the best in the league in shooting percentage. Aaron Brooks continued to be a lift off the bench going for 19 points, although he logged no assists. T-Mac and Yao Ming played strong, while the 3rd of the big 3, Ron Artest, shot 1-12. Yao battled with Shaq all night long and did very well on the glass pulling down 15 boards and shooting 50%. The fight was a side note in the game except for the fact that it lead to Rafer Alston getting a 2 game suspension. He would miss the games vs. the Spurs and the Hornets.

Spurs game:  This was a key division game for the beginning of the year and the Rockets had a chance to stuff the struggling Spurs into a hole at the bottom of the division while putting themselves at the top. The Rockets could not put the Spurs away at all during the game and just let them hang around. It finally came down to play execution at the end of the game. Aaron Brooks couldn't initiate plays and his teammates couldn't run them either. The Rockets could have really used Alston and his on court leadership. The Rockets lead by 14 in the 4th quarter and couldn’t seal the deal. Once again, Yao Ming played like a rookie, only logging 13 points in 38 minutes of play and shooting only 9 shots; 2 of which were from offensive rebounds. He totaled 8 rebounds and didn’t defend the basket well at all. Aaron Brooks, the shortest player on the team pulled down 8 boards! Yao, the tallest player on the team must be disgusted with himself and he should be. Artest came through with a big game scoring 18 on 50% shooting and snatching 3 steals. McGrady shot a miserable 2-12. You can add this game to the "shoulda/coulda" column for the end of the year when assessing our playoff position.

End of the road thoughts:  T-Mac’s shot just isn’t falling, he shot 25/69 (36%) while and made just 2, 3, and 7 points in 3 of the games. His leg is obviously hurting him and it may be time to let get some rest and him sit out for a bit. Shame I am saying that 10 games into the season. Yao Ming averaged 35.5 minutes a game, around 3 minutes more than I would like to see him get. When will the Rockets sign another big? Though they lost to the Blazers by a last second shot and got blown out by the Lakers, I think the hardest loss to take was the Spurs. They had them down the whole game and could never put it away. They are in our division and it was important to keep them down at the bottom. I think we saw Friday night why they need Rafer Alston. Brooks is a great boost off the bench with his scoring but he still lacks the leadership on the floor to be a starting point guard in the NBA.

Hornets game: What a way to come home to Houston the Rockets took control of Chris Paul and didn’t let him run all over them. A bright spot was Von Wafer coming off the bench in place of Brent Barry. McGrady came back with 18 points. Even though he shot poorly from the field, 5-12 he went to the line 7 times and connected on all attempts. Yao was solid on 7-12 shooting and 7-7 from the line for 21 points. Brooks had one of his worst offensive games going 1-6 but played good defense on Paul all night. It was good to come back home and get a win and put ourselves back on top of the division.

Category: NBA
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