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[Chron] Alston taking control, Street-ball star is handed Rockets' reins

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by GRENDEL, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. GRENDEL

    GRENDEL Contributing Member

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    Alston taking control
    Street-ball star is handed Rockets' reins


    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

    Rafer Alston, long ago and in another life celebrated as the street-ball legend "Skip to My Lou," started the sort of drive move NBA point guards make every night, slicing into the lane, weaving around the Knicks' towering defenders.

    Then with a quick jab of sleight of hand, Alston was alone. He had yanked the ball back as if it was a yo-yo on a string to clear the Knicks out of his way before putting in a layup. Blink and you missed it.

    "Oh, baby!" guard David Wesley shouted, mimicking the screaming announcers in Alston's former life. "That was And1 Mix Tape stuff. The announcer, instead of saying 'Rafer Alston,' should have said, 'Oh, baby!' He should have ran into the stands, threw his jersey off."

    If Alston had that urge, he resisted it. If anything, that one slick flash of deception was out of character in what has become a tidy, efficient style. It's so tidy, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy handed Alston control of his offense in the hopes Alston could do everything from provide a jolt of fast-break scoring to help Tracy McGrady escape his shooting slump.

    The Rockets' offense for much of the season has needed something, and it certainly missed the touch of a point guard when Alston was out with a hairline fracture in his left leg. But it is a safe assumption Van Gundy would not have handed him the keys if Alston were racing out of control in a street-ball show.


    'Low-turnover guy'

    "If you watch him, he's anything but that type of player," Van Gundy said. "That's how everybody wants to make him out to be. He's a low-turnover guy. He's sound. And yet, people still want to label him as that kind of guy. Maybe he can do that stuff. But he doesn't play like 'the Professor' out there."

    So with Alston pressing the accelerator, Van Gundy has ordered the Rockets to get moving. Averaging just 6.5 fast breaks per game, the second fewest in the NBA, the Rockets have averaged 11.9 in the past eight games, getting at least 15 points on the break in half of those games.

    Alston has averaged 8.4 assists per game in February and 6.4 overall with just 2.1 turnovers per game.

    "Rafer's greatest strength would be that," Van Gundy said. "We want to take advantage of that. To do it, we have to have guys willing to run, and when they do run, reward them.

    "If you want to run, you have to be able to get stops, get rebounds, have a point guard who advances it and has good decision-making capabilities, wings who are willing to get ahead of the ball and a big man willing to get ahead of the ball. You have to get a 4-on-3. That's not been our greatest strength."


    Speed's the cure

    The Rockets' greatest offensive strengths, Yao Ming and McGrady, are half-court players. The Rockets hoped that some fast-break offense would augment their top scorers.

    "I know we have more transition points as of late than we're averaging in the season," Alston said. "If we can continue that and take it up a level, that would take a load off some of the times we're struggling in half-court sets."

    The Rockets did not expect to have McGrady struggling, but in the past 10 games he has made 80 of 232 shots (34.5 percent). Van Gundy hopes running more might get McGrady going again.

    "All the great perimeter scorers in this league have a better chance in transition than they do against set defense to get to the line," Van Gundy said. "There's less you can do to scheme in transition. That's not Tracy's greatest strength, but I think it would really help him to get out more actively because I think he could find more freedom, more room to move."

    It's still not the Rockets' greatest quality and likely won't be any time soon. But finally, it is at least heading in that direction quickly.

    jonathan.feigen@chron.com


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

    Rockets Summary

    Moochie traded


    The Rockets on Monday sent point guard Moochie Norris to the New Orleans/Okalahoma City Hornets for 6-11, third-year forward Maciej Lampe.

    Lampe, chosen by the Knicks with the 30th pick in the 2003 draft when he unexpectedly slipped out of the first round, played in just two games this season. He was dealt to Phoenix as part of the Stephon Marbury- Antonio McDyess deal and traded to the Hornets last season with Casey Jacobsen for Jim Jackson. Lampe averaged 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds for the Hornets and Suns last season.

    The Rockets signed Norris out of the CBA in the 1999-2000 season, traded him to the Knicks for Clarence Weatherspoon last season, then reacquired him for Maurice Taylor. He averaged 2.2 points and 1.0 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 29 games with the Rockets.

    "(Lampe is) a guy who moves his feet well," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said. "He can play outside. He's got an outside shot and he's very active. He's not your basic post-up paint guy. He's good on high pick-and-roll, side pick-and-roll, a pick-and-pop guy and he's got some bulk to him."

    The teams did not have to match salaries because the Hornets are under the salary cap. Depending on how the deal is structured, the Rockets could have $3.4 million to $4.2 million to use as a "trade exception" for up to a year from Monday.


    Team picks up McGrady

    With Tracy McGrady seemed frustrated with his recent shooting problems and his 3-of-20 shooting against the Knicks on Sunday, teammates said they were not worried. They contend that he can help in other ways and that he will regain his touch.

    "I kept telling him to keep playing the game," guard David Wesley said. "He still carried us. He still draws double teams. If he passes the ball, it's our job to knock down shots. He got me a couple early. He's still doing what he does, even though he's not scoring. He creates double teams, people rotate and we benefit from that."

    JONATHAN FEIGEN

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bk/bkn/3657340.html
     
  2. krosfyah

    krosfyah Contributing Member
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    Everybody wants to label JVG as a defensive minded half-court grind it out guy but this clearly contradicts that notion. Coaches just try to play to their strengths. Alston can deliver so JVG will adjust and demand more fast breaking. JVG didn't have the personnelle before to fast break. It is nice to see them picking up the pace.
     
  3. Williamson

    Williamson JOSH CHRISTOPHER ONLY FAN
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    I like that article. Alston has really been the motor that makes the whole car go for the last 8-10 games.
     
  4. tim562

    tim562 Contributing Member

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    Alston has really stepped it up since he came back. It seems he is becoming more comfortable with the offense and is taking it to another level. He had enough time on the bench to disect it while he was hurt.

    Tmac at 34 percent....ouch!!! He'll shoot his way out of it. Can't complain, he has made too many big shots and taken over too many games.

    Yao has really stepped his game too. He seems to be playing with more attitude and so much more confidence. It also helps to play with a decent pg and of course Tmac.
     
  5. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run

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    anyone else find it funny that van gundy referenced "the professor"? haha
     
  6. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    alston's improved play has helped the pg position and it has helped Wesley. amazing how well he shoots when he doesn't have pg responsability.
     
  7. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    I always laugh when I see folks moan about VG's "slow it down" style.

    It just tells me that they dont actually watch them play.

    All season long, you constantly see VG waving his arms and yelling for them to get down the court fast.
    It has started being more effective since Rafer got back, you see him push it constantly, he is always running as soon as he gets the ball.

    To all those whining and complaingin about Tmac's shooting....re-read this part carefully and try to comprehend what Tracy brings to the floor...even if he is shooting badly.
    With him on the floor, the other team is FORCED to double, and when you combine that with an effective, aggressive Yao at the same time...you have wide open shooters.

    As long as the rest of the guys can take advantage of the doubles that opponents have to throw at Tmac and Yao...thats a recipe for success.
     
  8. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    I don't understand why some of you call talking about mcgrady's shooting percentage whining. the guy is not shooting well, hasn't shot well all season and is getting worse. the rockets have beaten some alright teams in the midst of his slump but if he doesn't shoot better it will catch up to them.
     
    #8 pgabriel, Feb 14, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2006
  9. tiger0330

    tiger0330 Contributing Member

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    Happy with RA and I am sure Toronto is happy with MJ as well, he had a great game yesterday and made the winning shot on a dribble penetration layup. This trade was one of those trades that benefitted both teams.
     
  10. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

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    serious that got me cracking up, i guess Van Gundy watches the AND 1 tour. maybe thats why he's lost the hair on top completely. Their game is the complete opposite of JVG ball
     
  11. DeAleck

    DeAleck Contributing Member

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    Alston is a great point guard to complement Yao and Tmac. His playmaking skills make the game run smoothly. Mike James, on the other hand, is great when Tmac is down or on the bench. He can take up the scoring load himself.

    So, everyone criticized Alston early this season for and moaned for the parting with James, that was because Tmac/Yao were down, and Alston had no one to pass the ball to who could score.
     
  12. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    dont take it personally pgabs...it wasnt directed at you

    Im referring to the constant whining in chat about why he is even on the floor during one of these games where he isnt shooting good.

    Im assuming at one point in your life you played ball...did you ever play injured?
    You arent going to be at your best when playing hurt...especially when it is the back.
    He is off from outside...and is afraid to drive for fear of making it worse by drawing hard contact in the paint.

    I know you dont like the guy..but would you at least try to be rational in your evaluation?
     
  13. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

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  14. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    irrational is acting like its not a problem. that's my point. there is nothing good about his shooting, do you realize it has dropped down to 40% and below 30% from the three line. so whatever the reason, back, slump, whatever, my point is don't get on posters for talking about it. we're talking about the guy who takes the most shots.
     
  15. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    True. If would have been great if we could have traded Moochie for him, instead of Mike, but alas.
     
  16. thegary

    thegary Contributing Member
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  17. TMac640

    TMac640 Contributing Member

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    don't worry about him, he's a magic fan.

    *snicker*
     
  18. krosfyah

    krosfyah Contributing Member
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    I'd say it was a BIG problem if we weren't winning. Every player in history has gone into a slump but TMac still finds ways to help the team win...the mark of a great player. That's what is important.

    If we start losing, then complain about TMac. Until then, just start imagining how good we'll be when his shooting slump is over. :eek:
     
  19. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    I thought we hated AND1 Players?

    Rocket river
    :confused:
     
  20. munco

    munco Member

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    i lost it when i read that. hilarious.
     

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