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Chron: Addition of Wesley, Barry jump-starts Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by GRENDEL, Jan 28, 2005.

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  1. GRENDEL

    GRENDEL Contributing Member

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    New faces jump-start Rockets
    Wesley, Barry solid complements to McGrady, Yao
    By MEGAN MANFULL
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE STANDINGS
    Team W L PCT GB
    San Antonio 35 10 .778 ---
    Dallas 28 13 .683 5
    Houston 24 19 .558 10
    Memphis 24 20 .545 10.5
    New Orleans 7 34 .171 26
    As of Jan 27 2005 11:25 p.m. CT
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    COMING UP
    Friday:
    vs. Sacramento, 8:30 p.m.
    TV/Radio:
    Listings; KILT (610 AM)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    When guards Jon Barry and David Wesley heard they were being traded to Houston last month, they first looked at the Rockets' roster. Then they looked at the record.


    The Rockets were below .500 even with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. To Barry and Wesley, it just didn't make sense.

    No longer outsiders, Houston's new guards now have a better understanding of what was holding the Rockets back. More importantly, they have helped the Rockets move forward.

    The Rockets enter tonight's game against Sacramento as winners of eight of their last 10. They also are five games above .500 for the first time this season.

    "The first night I got here, Yao had 20 and McGrady had (34) and my first question was: How are you guys losing?" said Wesley, who joined the Rockets for the Dec. 29 game against Cleveland. "When Yao plays well, he's hard to stop. When Tracy plays well, those things are obvious. Then they start double teaming, and it's our job to hit shots.

    "Man, I was surprised. Then gradually you start seeing some of the problems that may have caused this team to be under .500, but we've managed to get through some of those problems and, hopefully, we can get to better starts, better intensity, better attention to detail."

    Barry was acquired from Atlanta on Dec. 23 for Tyronn Lue. Four days later, Wesley arrived from New Orleans in exchange for Jim Jackson and Bostjan Nachbar. The Rockets were 13-15 before Wesley's first game as a Rocket. They are 11-4 since, and nobody on the Rockets calls it a coincidence.

    "Those guys have had an impact, obviously," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Wesley has made a much bigger impact defensively, being able to guard 2s with some quickness. I think Barry has improved our passing. We haven't turned it over as much."


    Consistency at last
    Since acquiring Barry and Wesley, the Rockets also have found some consistency in their rotation. Since Wesley started his first game as a Rocket on Dec. 31, Houston has changed the lineup only once. Ryan Bowen started Monday because of McGrady's absence.

    Yao, McGrady, Wesley, Juwan Howard and Bob Sura have started 12 of the last 13 games. Before settling on those five players, the Rockets had used eight other lineups but none lasted more than 11 games together. The most recent group has logged the most victories by winning eight games.

    It's that type of consistency that has helped build cohesiveness on the court.


    On the spot
    "I know where guys are going to be," McGrady said. "I know where the new guys like the ball, where their spots are. I can count on that if I penetrate and kick it out. I trust that they'll be in their right spots.

    "It makes my job a lot easier. I don't have to think as much."

    The Rockets aren't winning just because the players have spent some time together, though. That's just part of it.

    "If guys come out and play hard, it's going to give us that chance," Wesley said. "There's no chemistry in running a three-on-two break. Throw it to the guy who's open. Get it to the guy that's open. Make open shots.

    "Sometimes (changes) can be difficult, except you're adding three guys (Barry, Wesley and Rod Strickland) that don't demand the ball. That don't hold onto the ball, don't need necessarily special things in order to make the team run. This team is run through Tracy and Yao. Everybody else plays through that."

    megan.manfull@chron.com


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rockets Summary

    TONIGHT: SACRAMENTO KINGS AT ROCKETS
    • Kings update: The Kings are one of six teams in the league with a winning road record. ... On Jan. 18 against Portland, two of Peja Stojakovic's scoring streaks came to an end. Stojakovic finished the night with six points, the first time in 135 games he did not reach double figures. The streak was second-longest in the NBA. Stojakovic also went 0-of-3 from 3-point range against Portland, ending his 35-game streak of making at least one trey. ... Bobby Jackson remains on the injured list with a left wrist ligament tear.
    • The Kings must: Find Stojakovic. The Rockets struggle to defend Peja Stojakovic and the Kings' pick-and-roll game.
    • Rockets update: Yao Ming has had big outings in the Rockets' previous two games against Sacramento. He scored 33 in the Nov. 6 Rockets victory. He scored 29 in the loss at Sacramento. He has scored 29 points or more only four times all year.
    • The Rockets must: Rebound. The Rockets win at a much higher clip when they outrebound their opponents.
    • Check out: Cuttino Mobley. Steve Francis scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds in his Toyota Center homecoming Monday. Mobley will want to have a similar outing.
    MEGAN MANFULL

    Change of malady
    With Maurice Taylor eligible and expecting to come off the injured list Thursday, the Rockets changed his malady but not his status.

    After more than a week on the injured list with the flu, the Rockets did not activate him as he assumed they would, instead reporting that he had developed plantar fasciaitis.

    Though the Rockets changed the injury, the five games he already spent on the injured list make him eligible to be moved to the active roster at any time.

    But Wednesday, Taylor said he expected to return to the active roster and his place in the rotation.

    "I don't see why they would keep me on (the injured list)," Taylor said. "I think they definitely will activate me. I don't see why I wouldn't just go back to doing what I was doing. I don't think because I got sick would change anything."

    Taylor had been ruled out for at least three games because of the flu, with the Rockets opting to move Clarence Weatherspoon to the active roster rather than go short-handed for at least three games. Taylor said he was not at full strength until Wednesday.

    "I was shocked," Taylor said. "I was done (after practice Tuesday). I went home and all I could do was sleep.

    "I didn't have any energy. I don't think I felt 100 percent, OK, normal until (Wednesday)."


    Another reunion
    The Rockets will be reunited with another former player tonight when guard Cuttino Mobley arrives at Toyota Center with the Sacramento Kings. Mobley was traded from Orlando to Sacramento two weeks ago and played with the Kings for the first time on Jan. 15.

    Mobley, who spent six seasons in Houston, has yet to face the Rockets since the June trade that sent him to Orlando with Steve Francis and Kelvin Cato.

    He already has become a solid contributor in Sacramento, averaging 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

    "I think Cuttino will fit in anywhere," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He loves basketball. He can play off other great players because he's such a great 3-point shooter. And he's got high energy. So I think Cuttino will fit in well with any team."

    Mobley made it clear after the trade that he enjoyed leaving the Rockets. In one interview while still with the more up-tempo Magic, Mobley said, "We're having fun. That's what basketball is about. Not no dictatorship, know what I mean?"

    Between Mobley's and Francis' post-trade comments, Van Gundy has had more than enough reading material. And he knows it will continue for another night.

    "I'm just waiting to see what he's got to say," Van Gundy said, smiling.

    JONATHAN FEIGEN and MEGAN MANFULL


    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/bk/bkn/3012968
     
  2. Blatz

    Blatz Contributing Member

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