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Chron: Rockets run smoothly with spare parts

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by olliez, Nov 10, 2003.

  1. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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    Nice read.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Nov. 9, 2003, 11:26PM


    Rockets run smoothly with spare parts
    Padgett, Braggs fill in for suspended forwards
    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

    A few weeks ago, Scott Padgett was unemployed. Released by the Jazz and a terrible fit in Portland, he was released again. His only offer came from the Pacers, who promised to keep him in mind if their injured players did not heal quickly.

    Torraye Braggs was a few hours from unemployment. He had spent half of his preseason Rockets tryout limping with a strained hamstring. On the eve of the Rockets' roster cuts, coach Jeff Van Gundy said he would need a night of deliberations to know whether Braggs would have a job a day later.

    A few weeks and two power forward suspensions later, Padgett and Braggs are more than pulling down paychecks. They have become key parts of the Rockets' rotation as power forwards off the bench.

    With Maurice Taylor appealing a 10-game suspension for violating the NBA/National Basketball Players Association anti-drug policy and Eddie Griffin on indefinite suspension and in therapy for his problems, Padgett and Braggs each played 15 minutes in Saturday's 96-86 win over Orlando. Braggs grabbed 10 rebounds. Padgett made all three of his shots for seven points. And at least for the moment, the Rockets' power forward situation does not seem so dire.

    There are much tougher tests to come, and on Sunday the Rockets brought in more insurance at their suspension-depleted position.

    While the Sunday morning talk shows discussed the latest unemployment statistics, none cited the Rockets' contribution to improving the nation's jobless rate. With Sunday's signing of power forward Alton Ford, they have 17 players under contract.

    "I can't tell you how long I've been watching the Rockets," said Ford, a former Milby and University of Houston star. "Now having a chance to play for them, I can't beat that with a bet.

    "I just want to do anything the coaches ask me to do. Van Gundy would not ask me to do anything I can't do. Cheering for the guys or making plays, anything I can do to help. Coach Van Gundy told me straightforward, do what I'm asked to do, and who knows how long it will be? Maybe two days, five days or five years. Who knows? Just be energy. Be a positive person."

    The Rockets became the land of opportunity for free-agent power forwards because of the suspensions of Griffin and Taylor and injuries to Eric Piatkowski, Adrian Griffin and Ben Davis.

    Braggs, who had been a training-camp invitee, played in Greece, Israel, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela and in the CBA after his college days at Xavier. On Saturday, he was the first big man off the Rockets' bench.

    "It's a good feeling," Braggs said. "I guess all the hard work paid off. You go through a lot of heartache, a lot of trials and tribulations. You just have to stay focused and keep praying, and sooner or later it happens. I'm just going to try to stay here and make the best of it.

    "I'm just going to play my role, bring energy, defense and rebounding. I play my part until they (Griffin and Taylor) get back. (Saturday), me and Scott did a pretty good job. You can say he's the offense and I'm the defense and rebounding.

    "We'll try to be a tandem and do it until the normal guys get back, just fill in and play our role. That's how we made the team. Just doing what we do."

    Padgett, who played for Kentucky's 1998 national championship team, followed a more traditional route to the NBA. A late first-round pick in 1999, he played four seasons with the Jazz before having to find another team that fit his talents.

    He said he immediately knew he had found that with the Rockets. But with the loss of Taylor, he also fit the Rockets' needs.

    "I'm more of a system player," Padgett said. "It was easier to adjust to this team. In the preseason, I was in Portland. They do a lot of freelance things. That's not really my style of game. I'm the kind of guy, when you run an offense, you dictate where everybody is supposed to be so you know where all five players will be on the court, then within the system you find your spots.

    "Until (Saturday, the first day of Taylor's suspension), you had some good guys in front of you. It's hard to really show anything when guys like Maurice are playing well. You just make the most of whatever opportunities you do get.

    "Obviously, there are some minutes. Mo was playing (23.5) minutes a game. Somebody's got to get those minutes. You earn as many as you can and go out there to help the team, and if these minutes can help, you get in the rotation, stay in the rotation all year when guys come back. That's what you want to do."

    More than seizing an opportunity to play, the Rockets' power forwards of the moment will have to fill needs. It's no longer enough to have a job; they now have a job to do.

    "What we're trying to get on our team as we move along," Van Gundy said, "is the hardest-playing, toughest, smartest, best-shooting players we can find."


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rockets summary
    Filtering down
    The Rockets are sounding more like Jeff Van Gundy with every win. They are 4-1 for the first time since starting the 2000-2001 season 5-1, but they repeatedly point to their shortcomings and soft early-season schedule.

    "We're happy to win," center Yao Ming said, "but we haven't played the big powers in the West yet."

    The Rockets face winless Miami on Tuesday before their first meeting with a Western Conference contender Thursday in Dallas.

    Asked about the Rockets' three-game winning streak, guard Steve Francis said: "That's nothing. Early in the season, we just want to keep striving for every victory. I think it's important for everybody not to get too bigheaded."

    Said guard Cuttino Mobley: "I'm not going to say anything until April. It's a positive, and you build on it. I'm with Jeff. I'm not going to get excited about a couple wins right now."

    Board game
    If Jeff Van Gundy's recall of statistics related to Yao Ming's rebounding is any indication, the Rockets' coach clearly has emphasized getting his center on the offensive boards. Yao got six of his season-high 11 rebounds off the offensive glass in Saturday night's win over the Magic, an improvement Van Gundy noted with specificity that might have revealed how great a priority the improvement was.

    "He had gone the previous 115 minutes and 29 seconds without an offensive rebound, since 7:29 in the third quarter of (the Nov. 1 game against) Memphis," Van Gundy said. "He showed better reaction to the ball (and got) a couple crucial offensive rebounds."

    Loud crowd
    The Rockets' sellout on Saturday was their second in three games at Toyota Center. They will be well short of a sellout Tuesday against Miami but expect to fill the arena for their following home game Friday against Phoenix.

    Rockets players, who had been among the worst home draws in the NBA in recent seasons, have noticed the difference.

    "The crowd's really getting behind us and voicing their opinion when we're out there," forward/center Kelvin Cato said. "They cheer loud when somebody just dives for the ball. Right now, Houston's really backing us."

    Mobile Mobley
    Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley's phenomenal shooting start will not help the cause of coaches who expect players to go through strenuous offseason workouts. Coming back from surgery to both ankles and believing he had worn himself out in previous summers, Mobley cut back on his usual offseason work.

    He said he has felt stronger and fresher, and through five games he has made 53.4 percent of his shots and 66.7 percent of his 3-pointers. After five games last season, he had made 41 percent of his shots and 35 percent of his 3-pointers.

    "The big difference for me is me staying on top of my conditioning," Mobley said. "Last year, I was really hurt. This summer really helped me, putting on weight. That's helping me play to the level I want to play at every night."

    -- JONATHAN FEIGEN
     
  2. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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    I like Alton's attitude

    OZ
     
  3. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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    This guy surely knows what to say !

    :D
     
  4. rimbaud

    rimbaud Contributing Member
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    Van Gundy is clearly insane. I am shocked this guy has been allowed to walk around in the real world for so long. Pretty soon someone will find him standing in a corner, face to the wall, and mumbling stuff about how iceberg lettuce would make a good rebounder.
     
  5. Hippieloser

    Hippieloser Contributing Member

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    I'm with you, rimbaud... that JVG quote is unnerving.
     
  6. finalsbound

    finalsbound Contributing Member

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    :cool:

    I'm psyched about Cat. He's playing unbelievable offense and defense AND has a winner's attitude. I hope he can keep it up.
     
  7. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

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    The EARLY seasOn success iS jusT lUck. Van Gundy still dOEsn't "gets it." SOon, he'll understand that the balL must gO To Yao first. Huh, you say that Yao gets the ball first eVeRy tiMe? THEN WHY isn't he leadIng the leaGue iN evEry cateGory? Only Yao "gets it."


    sincerely,

    all the haters
     
  8. Ender120

    Ender120 Contributing Member

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    Ya know Oski, you almost convinced me, except for the fact that despite the horrible capitalization, your grammar and spelling was still near perfect.

    da erly seasen sucess iS JUST LUCK!!!!!!111 Van Gundy still dusn't "gets it" soon hell undrstand that da bal must go To Yao first... huh? u say that Yao get the ball first evrey time? THEN WHY he isn't leadIng the leag in evrey categorie? Only Yao "gets it."

    There. Let's not make them look better than they really are, now.
     
  9. solid

    solid Contributing Member

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    I love system, structure, and organization (sort of like Pagett), but most of all, I love JVG. He is a computer with a blazing processor, large hard-drive, and a shiney forehead. He is bringing hope back to the Bayou City. I am having fun again! :)
     
  10. Kyakko

    Kyakko Contributing Member

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    Hey Oski,

    let's make this a Yao hater vs Yao only tread.. idiot
     
  11. Roc Paint

    Roc Paint Contributing Member
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    This guy is starting to look like Dr. Frankengundy.
     
  12. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the laugh kyakko, that ".. idiot" part, totally original. Unfortunately for your weak attempt, I have nothing against Yao. Just the people who continue to tear the rest of the team down if Yao isn't the leading scorer right now. Impatient people who won't let the guy grow at his own pace and would rather blame everybody else, even Van Gundy himself if Yao struggles.
     
  13. Panda

    Panda Member

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    What do you guys expect? JVG is a mo$H#$%ing mo$H#$%%^ker.
     
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