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[12.17.05] Rockets-Clippers Game Recap

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets111, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. Rockets111

    Rockets111 Contributing Member

    Oct 11, 2005
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    Cassell, Brand lead Charge as Clippers Halt Rockets’ Streak, 81-89

    By Dennis L. Silva, II.

    It had been three years and three days since the Los Angeles Clippers had last defeated the Houston Rockets. But the days of Michael Olowokandi, Eric Piatkowski, and Marko Jaric are gone. Also gone is the losing and defeated aura that often overwhelmed the Clippers’ organization. In are Elton Brand, Cuttino Mobley, and Sam Cassell, all of whom played exclusive roles in handing Houston their first loss on this current six-game road trip. Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady combined for 51 of Houston’s 81 total points, and the Clippers had a more well-balanced and thorough game, defeating the Rockets 89-81 before 17,611 at Staples Center.

    The Rockets started the first quarter well. McGrady and Yao scored six points apiece early as Houston claimed a 14-10 lead midway through the period. The Rockets’ kept going to McGrady (who would finish with 12 points in the period), as he abused the Clipper’s young guard Quentin Ross time and time again. Houston’s offense was patient and deliberate, and produced 6-12 marksmanship from the floor early. But Ross hit a few long jumpers, and Cassell hit a few buckets as well, leading the Clips on a 7-3 scoring run late to tie the game at 21. Houston held a 24-23 lead going into the second stanza, with Yao and McGrady combining for 20 of those points.

    Los Angeles began the second with six consecutive points in the quarter’s first ninety seconds. Reserve forward Chris Wilcox gave the Clips a boost with his energy and hustle, scoring four points (he would finish the first half with 7 points and six rebounds in only 14 minutes) as the Clippers boasted a 29-24 lead. But McGrady continued his offensive clinic, scoring seven consecutive points to bring Houston to within one point of LA, 32-22. From then on, the game was an even match as each team countered each other’s scores. Neither team was able to pull ahead as both teams shot reasonably well from the field. The Clippers shot 52% from the floor, while the Rockets managed 46%. The game was at a dead even 49-49 tie heading into halftime.

    McGrady had played, perhaps, his finest first half of the season. T-Mac scored 25 points in the game’ first twenty-four minutes, and added three assists along with 10-16 shooting. Yao finished with 12 points and four boards, but no other Rocket was close to double-figure scoring. The Clippers managed a more potent attack, led by Cassell’s 14 points on 6-9 shooting.

    The game stayed nip-and-tuck throughout most of the third period early as Houston held a 58-57 lead midway through. But frustrations began to mount as the physical nature of the game escalated. Cassell and David Wesley got into a brief shoving match as each earned technical fouls with 10:32 left. Then, in response to the officials not calling the shoving and pushing that Wilcox was dispensing to Yao, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy received a technical of his own. Van Gundy was also displeased with officials allowing Wilcox to retrieve a loose ball when he had clearly been out of bounds. But the Rockets were also at fault as well. The Clippers were clearly the aggressors, as Yao managed to allow Wilcox and Brand to outhustle him and take away easy rebounds. They also had managed to douse the fire of McGrady’s offense, holding him to a mere two points in the quarter. Therefore, the Clippers held a 67-63 going into the final twelve minutes.

    The Clippers held a 71-67 lead early through the fourth, despite four early points from Moochie Norris. But when Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy (a former Rockets player from 1977-1982) chose to isolate Mobley and Cassell to take advantage of the Rockets’ smaller guards, Los Angeles ballooned their lead to 76-69 with 7:18 remaining. Houston would cut their deficit to four a couple of times in the game’s closing moments, but Elton Brand (20 points and 9 rebounds) scored eight clutch points down the stretch, and former Rockets Cassell (who finished the contest with 22 points and eight rebounds) and Mobley (18 points on 8-16 shooting) hit key shots to defuse any hope of a Rockets rally.

    McGrady finished the game with 29 points, which is nothing to be ashamed of, but was held to four points on 2-12 shooting in the second half. The Clippers (who lead the league in opponents’ field goal percentage) adjusted their defense and allowed anyone but McGrady to beat them. That meant open shot opportunities for Ryan Bowen (2-11), Luther Head (1-4), and David Wesley (2-7), none of whom could make the Clippers pay.

    After holding a 23-14 rebounding edge in the first half, Houston lost its aggressiveness and willingness in going after loose balls, allowing Los Angeles to outrebound them 27-17 in the second half. The Rockets also shot a dismal 13-40 (32%) in the half as well.

    Houston plays the Lakers tomorrow night in the last game of the six-game West Coast swing. The Rockets can still accomplish the franchise record for the most wins on a road trip, but they will have to play with intensity and heart for a full 48 minutes, instead of 24.


    · No other Rocket scored more than eight points in the game.
    · Yao finished the game with 22 points and 7 rebounds, but was pushed out of position for rebounds on multiple occasions.
    · The Rockets received a grand total of 7 points and 12 rebounds from their power forward tandem of Juwan Howard and Stromile Swift. Howard had 10 of those rebounds, and Swift had five of those points.
    · Los Angeles shot 48% from the floor and only turned the ball over six times.
    · Wilcox had 11 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench for the Clippers.

  2. bplld

    bplld Contributing Member

    Nov 6, 2005
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    The lack of gaurds due to injuries really hurt us. Mobley and Cassell were able to easily abuse us.

    How come Head is so quiet. He doesnt want to shoot the ball at all. Doesnt drive and passes up open shots.
  3. rikesh316

    rikesh316 Member

    Sep 28, 2002
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    I was thinking the same thing. I think he is scared that he will get benched if he missess a couple of shots because in the past, JVG has benched him for that.
  4. MrButtocks

    MrButtocks Contributing Member

    May 29, 2005
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    JVG's reeled him in a little. He's never effectively attacked the basket in the rockets uniform. The Clips lead the league in opp fg%. A frontcourt of Brand, Wilcox, and Kaman is intimidating to charge into. They're not Seattle.

    As for the game, I'm glad we took advantage at the positions we're stronger in (SF and C), but dissapointed about how we got killed at the positions we're weaker in (PG, SG, PF). Sam, Brand, and Cat got 22, 20, and 18 points, respectively. I don't even want to bring up what our players scored. Yao and Tmac can't do it alone, but the role players are going to have a tough time against that Clipper defense. Notice how few open shots we got today?

    We need our depth to get healthy. Sura, Barry, Alston, and DA can all help. It wouldn't have mattered if they had Maggette, but in the long run we can't just have a 7-man rotation.

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