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Chron:`Historic collapse' on Rockets' minds

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by mirror_image, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. mirror_image

    mirror_image Contributing Member

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    `Historic collapse' on Rockets' minds
    Van Gundy has guarded outlook
    By MEGAN MANFULL
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy isn't going to pretend everything will be OK. After weeks of talking about clinching a playoff spot, the conversations took a sharp turn after Monday's practice, when Van Gundy said the team is on the brink of a "historic collapse."

    The Rockets have lost four consecutive games and are quickly losing their grasp on a Western Conference playoff spot. If they continue to falter and miss the playoffs, the Rockets will make history. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Rockets would be the first team since the current playoff format started in 1983-84 to miss the playoffs after being 10 games over .500 with less than nine games remaining.

    Today the Rockets (42-34) start a critical two-game trip -- against the Warriors at 9:30 p.m. before visiting the Clippers on Wednesday -- with a lot at stake.

    The mascot, Clutch the bear, has even taken up residence on a balcony outside of Toyota Center facing LaBranch Street with a sign that says, "I'm staying up here until the Rockets clinch the playoffs."

    With six games remaining and a tight race, Clutch could be there a while.

    "If we play right and we coach right, the results will start getting better," Van Gundy said. "If not, we'll be part of a historic collapse, and once you face up to that fact ... No one wants to use that word, but it's on everybody's mind."

    The Rockets have been in a downward spiral since losing on March 15 at Phoenix. Prior to that game, the Rockets were the Western Conference's hottest team. They had just upset Memphis to stretch their winning streak to five games -- the longest streak in the West at that time. They were also 13 games over .500 (39-26) for the first time all season.

    Their winning percentage took a hit starting in Phoenix, though. Since the overtime loss to the Suns, the Rockets have gone 3-8 (.273).

    "In the middle of the season we started playing well and put ourselves in the position to be in the playoff race, and not to get there would be a travesty," Rockets forward Jim Jackson said. "The good thing about it is you have another chance to kind of right yourself in these next six games."

    Monday, the Rockets had only a two-game lead over Utah, and they admitted that the next two games are critical. The only sub-.500 opponent for the Rockets after the Warriors and the Clippers is Seattle, which is 3-0 against Houston this season. The Rockets' three other games are against Denver and Dallas at home and at Utah. Against the remaining six teams this season, the Rockets are a combined 9-9.

    "These are some winnable games for us," Cuttino Mobley said. "We should go out there and play hard. Golden State's playing OK right now. But like I said, take one game at a time. We owe them, and I'm sure they are going to try to spoil our plans. So we have to be focused."

    The Rockets say they hope to do everything they can to avoid making history and earning a seat alongside the 2001-02 Milwaukee Bucks, who set a precedent for collapses. On March 16, 2002, the Bucks were tied with Detroit atop the Central Division. The Bucks finished the season 5-14 (.263) and missed the playoffs with a 41-41 record.

    Since the current playoff format began 20 years ago, Milwaukee became the first to fail to make the playoffs after being 13 or more games over. 500, according to Elias Sports Bureau. If the Rockets continue to falter, they will be the second team.

    "It's always good to become part of history, but we don't want to become part of that history," Yao Ming said.

    To change their current path to their fifth-consecutive season in the draft lottery, Van Gundy said the Rockets must stop making excuses and take control.

    "We know exactly how we have to play to win," he said. "And my point is, I have to do a better job of convincing them that it's worth it to do those things to win. Do extra, do more, prepare harder, play harder, chase down a loose ball, be at your best late instead of at your worst.

    "It's not fate, it's not officials that are costing us. It's our own inability to do the right things. It's not a bounce of the ball, as was suggested, that's all going against us right now. (Peja) Stojakovic's layup, (Chris) Webber's shot, our misses. It's not fate. It's habits. Our habits are not right as of now to be at championship level."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rockets summary
    Francis ailing
    The injury problems are not getting any better for the Rockets. Point guard Steve Francis participated in limited drills during Monday's practice because of an inflamed bursa in his left elbow. The bursa, a small sac containing fluid, is formed in an area subject to friction, such as where a tendon passes over a bone.

    Francis said the injury occurred in a hard fall during Sunday's game against Sacramento. He will be re-evaluated today and will likely play against the Warriors.

    "Hopefully I'll be able to go," Francis said. "Most likely, I'll be ready to play. I'll find out once we get to Oakland. Actually (Sunday), it didn't hurt one bit. But I woke up this morning and it was pretty swollen. We did some treatment. I have limited movement. But it's too crucial (of a time) in the season to not play through it."

    Pleased for Drexler
    None of the current Rockets were on the roster during Clyde Drexler's tenure in Houston, but they are well aware of his accomplishments and success. A few faced him earlier in their careers, others grew up watching him.

    Regardless of how they came to know him, the Rockets were happy to hear that Drexler was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.

    "I had to guard him when I first came into the league," forward Jim Jackson said. "He was in Portland and I was in Dallas. I learned a lot from him. His athletic ability when he was younger was phenomenal, but then as he got older his understanding of the game made him the player he was."

    Drexler played for the Rockets during his final four seasons in the NBA, ending after 1997-98. (Cuttino Mobley was a rookie the next year.)

    Rockets assistant coach Patrick Ewing played alongside Drexler on the original Olympic Dream Team in 1992.

    "I think it's a great honor for him," Ewing said. "He definitely deserves it. To make it on the first time is great. Clyde was a great competitor, great human being."

    -- MEGAN MANFULL


    Props to Clutch the Bear, I will give up snacks until Rockets make playoff
     
  2. mirror_image

    mirror_image Contributing Member

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    Hope that Francis are available for Warriors Game. Mark Jackson and Mike Wilks are not enough to get the job done.
     
  3. mirror_image

    mirror_image Contributing Member

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  4. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    blasphemy . . .don't u know francis is why we lose and never contributes to use winning. . . . what bbs have you been reading . . [exit sarcasm]

    Rocket River
     
  5. RocketsPimp

    RocketsPimp Contributing Member

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    I am JVG.

     
  6. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

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    That is top notch journalism.
     
  7. pasox2

    pasox2 Contributing Member
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    edit.
     
    #7 pasox2, Apr 6, 2004
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2004
  8. LegendZ3

    LegendZ3 Contributing Member

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    WoW, Steve is not playing tonight? We acutally have a chance to win!:p
     
  9. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance
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    If the Rockets miss the playoffs can we change the name of the site from ClutchFans.net to ChokeFans.net? :(
     
  10. MoonBus

    MoonBus Contributing Member

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    Jeff, please cover up your head, I think the heat is getting to you. You seem not to remember the stink you raised about Yao not getting enough foul calls.
     
  11. Willis25

    Willis25 Contributing Member

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    The coach raising a stink in defense of a player is NOT the same ballpark ('its not the same f&%*$^n' sport') as PLAYERS using it as an EXCUSE - EVERY TIME THEY LOSE

    .... I believe that the kids would say that JVG is "calling out his team
     
  12. MoonBus

    MoonBus Contributing Member

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    So, it's Ok for the coach to defend his team, but it's not OK for the players to defend themselves.

    Look, I don't like players to bitch & moan about foul calls, either. I was just having a little fun with the JVG thing, but if you are going to take it so serious, how about not being over dramatic and say PLAYERS using it as an EXCUSE - EVERY TIME THEY LOSE.

    When a project fails, the whole team failed. When is JVG going to take a look in the mirror and say, "maybe I should try a different approach". We all know that "calling out the team" hasn't worked (and has been used numerous times during the season), so why continue using the same strategy?

    I was a backer, when JVG was being considered for the job. I wanted him more than that "guy" in Detroit. I just don't feel he has done the best job in bringing out the best from this group. If we failed this seaon, everyone should get blamed: players, coaches, GM, heck even owner. Don't just say players, because the players is only a part (an important part) of the team.
     
  13. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    It seems like Van Gundy is concentrating on the teams behind us in the standings instead of what's ahead. That's the basketball equivalent of looking down while tight-rope walking.
     
  14. rhester

    rhester Contributing Member

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    It's not Jeff Van Gundy's fault, here's something very important he said in the Chronicle- "I want to have a disciplined, sound, hard-playing team that competes for a championship. The last couple of weeks, as we’ve been going through this, and I’ve been trying to beg it out of them, and again, you need to have high aspirations in this league because if you watch us, and this is no news to the team either, championship-caliber teams at home, off of a three-game losing streak, don’t give up 50 percent shooting. They don’t turn it over 20 times and they don’t do those things, so I’m just trying to broaden the picture that it’s bigger than a 'one year let’s try to make the playoffs.' It’s much bigger than that. That’s my point."

    disciplined- good execution- limited turnovers- shot selection
    sound- fundementals defensive and offensive- smart- good decisions
    hard-playing- hungry, desparate, aggressive, max-effort
    high aspirations- bearing down on every game to believe in yourself and do what it takes to be the best.

    What's wrong withthis coaching philosophy. Nothing.
    You have to find players that can best execute this philosphy.

    This sounds like MJ talking or Bird talking or Larry Brown talking
    or Oscar Robertson or Jerry West or Jerry Sloan-

    find me a determined winner with a championship drive in their heart and this will be their vision.

    Van GUndy has made mistakes, but his vision for an NBA team and the effort to acheive it is not to be blamed.
     
  15. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

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    Every coach has that philosophy. They're not evaluated on their philosophy, however.
     
  16. rhester

    rhester Contributing Member

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    TheFreak- I realize that generally speaking, but I should have expounded.

    Each coach is demanding of different things pushing their vision for success.

    Some let the players free style more in a less structured system.
    Some depend more on their star and focus much more on individual matchups.

    Some concentrate on scoring and allow more defensive liabilities.

    Some need veteran players because they are more focused on chemistry and spacing.

    I believe this is the identity Van Gundy wants: discipline, smarts, fanatical effort, and hard hard nose defense.

    Larry Brown, Hubie Brown, Popovich, and Carlisle fit this mold

    More adapt to the players and play to their strengths coaches would include Paul Silas, Phil Jackson, Rudy T, Flip Saunders

    All good coaches- different visions. That last group does better with veteran teams

    The front group does better putting together personnel that fit their expectation.

    Van Gundy will make us into a power, but not until he has the the players who are sold out to his system. Could be our current group, maybe not
     
  17. edc

    edc Contributing Member

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    JVG has no track record of "making (a team) into a power." He was brought to Houston to win now, and on that front he has not succeeded.
     
  18. rhester

    rhester Contributing Member

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    edc- I stand corrected. That was a highly opinionated statement.
    But he has a track record of developing a Knick team into a
    disciplined, sound, hard-playing team that competes for a championship.

    I think he'll do that here also.
     
  19. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    I maybe mistaken but . . .what Knicks team did he develope???
    The one with EWING, Larry Johnson, allan Houston etc on it
    didn't that team goto the Finals a few years prior with
    most of those same playerS?

    Develope??
    :confused:

    Rocket River
     
  20. KaiSeR SoZe

    KaiSeR SoZe Contributing Member

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    Any more news about Francis? I hope he is playing
     
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