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Chron: It's all about adaptability

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets34Legend, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Amid roster changes, Rockets working to come together as team

    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    Jim Jackson, perhaps the NBA's foremost expert on changing teams (and now facing at least one more move than he wanted), said last month it would take until the end of the season for the Rockets to truly develop chemistry and cohesion with their rebuilt team.

    Since then, the Rockets have made 10 transactions involving 21 player moves.

    Eleven players have started games in six combinations this season. (The Rockets used seven different starting lineups all of last season.) Yao Ming is the only Rocket to have started every game.

    There are just four players — Yao, Maurice Taylor, Scott Padgett and Clarence Weatherspoon — still around from the team that ended last season, and only the first two actually play.

    Through injuries and trades, including the deal that shipped out Jackson this week, the Rockets have started and restarted the clock on developing on-court rapport with no reason to expect the transformation of their roster was over. For the Rockets du jour, success might be determined by how quickly they become a team, as opposed to a mere collection of players all wearing the same clothes.

    As much as "chemistry" sounds like one of those exaggerated sports catchwords, the Rockets do not deny its value.

    "That's what being a team's all about," said Jon Barry, a veteran of three Rockets games. "You can take the most talented guys in the world, but if they're not together, it's not a good team. Take the Olympics. I don't think anyone would tell you we didn't have the most talented team in the world. But they didn't win."

    There are other issues, as the Rockets will surely be reminded tonight with the Bucks in town just three days after Tuesday's thrashing in Milwaukee. But as much as collecting talent, the Rockets have had to hope the new pieces fit.

    "The old leave, and the new come," Yao said. "We have to adjust quickly. Every team will have the same problem after a trade. We're facing it right now. ... It's like starting a new life."

    The focus of the offense will not change from Tracy McGrady and Yao. Barry and David Wesley will more often finish plays than start them. And with the oldest team in the NBA, the Rockets have a roster full of players accustomed to the need to adjust quickly.

    "The NBA is truly about change," coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I don't think there is any doubt we need changes. This group has had plenty of time to start competing at a higher level.

    "Only Yao and Andre Barrett have been on the same team their whole career, and their experience has been short. Everybody has experienced change. Those teams, players and coaches who adapt and adjust the quickest have the best chance at success. If (Shaquille) O'Neal can be traded and Phil Jackson can be not brought back and McGrady can be traded, everybody and anybody in our room is vulnerable to change, including myself."

    Besides, if chemistry were so irreplaceable, teams would not be so willing to make moves.

    Perhaps the Rockets decided they did not have much chemistry to risk. They were 13-14 when they dealt Jackson, 10-14 in games in which he played.

    "Regardless of the chemistry you have, if the organization feels they can make the team better ... they're going to do it," Taylor said. "You can say chemistry is a factor, but guys come and go all the time in this league. It was a tough few days. We have to start somewhere. It seems like we have a new team all over again."

    The Rockets just hope the new team is better than the old one.

    "Things can change quickly in the NBA," Van Gundy said. "It can go from good to bad and bad to good in a heartbeat. You look at Phoenix and Seattle over the course of a summer. You look at Miami last year, (going from) 5-15 to the second round of the playoffs. It can happen."

    In their first game with their new mix (with the next injured-list move scheduled for Jan. 5), the Rockets had enough chemistry to collect 24 assists Wednesday en route to a 98-87 victory at Cleveland, their first road win since the night in Portland when Jackson spoke of how long it takes to develop chemistry.

    The Rockets have proved again this week that one game does not indicate much about the next one. But if the latest mix does not click, no one expects the latest move to become the last move.

    "We underachieved, and they were looking to make changes," guard Bob Sura said. "We knew they were coming, and more could come. The team has not played to its potential, and we could shake things up. This could be the end of it. Maybe not."


    Rockets summary

    He defends, too

    Through 12 NBA seasons, David Wesley has built a reputation as a solid perimeter shooter. But the Rockets value him as much as a defender. In his first hours with the team, he played 24 minutes against Cleveland on Wednesday, largely to match up against LeBron James in the first half and against point guards Jeff McInnis and Eric Snow in the second half. Up next: Bucks All-Star Michael Redd.

    "I think that's another reason I'm here," Wesley said. "They wanted that defensive presence. To be in this league this long at the two position, I've got to be able to defend a little bit. The other night, I guarded LeBron. I think they saw that game and kind of liked it. That's what (Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy) wanted me to do: get in people's face."

    Open for business

    As much as Rockets forward Tracy McGrady says he is happy to be a playmaker rather than contending for another scoring championship, he also seems to enjoy playing with a pair of guards able to take some of the ballhandling responsibilities from him.

    He says it is especially effective to have ballhandlers on the court who also create spacing with their ability to shoot from the perimeter.

    With the trades for Jon Barry and David Wesley, the Rockets can keep another guard on the court with Bob Sura at all times.

    "It's easier for me to do my thing when there are shooters out there," McGrady said. "The defenders have to respect my guys who can shoot the ball. That opens things up for me. Yao ( Ming) out there helps as well. When I'm doing my thing, his defender is not going to come off him. If he does, that's an easy basket."

    • Bucks update: The Rockets' poor play might have helped the Bucks win easily in Milwaukee on Tuesday, but the Bucks have done their part lately. They ended their own five-game losing streak and the Bulls' five-game winning streak Sunday at the Bradley Center, whipped the Rockets, then won in Orlando. The combination of Michael Redd and Desmond Mason has given teams, including the Rockets, matchup problems.

    • The Bucks must: Hit the offensive boards. The Bucks whipped the Rockets on the glass Tuesday. They might not shoot as well tonight, but if they dominate the boards again, they might not have to.

    • Rockets update: The Rockets will play their fourth game in the past six with a chance to beat a sub-.500 team and finally get back to .500 themselves. That run included a similar home rematch against the Bobcats. They dropped both games to Charlotte, but the loss in Milwaukee was the most complete of the season. The game begins a three-game homestand.

    • The Rockets must: Get Yao Ming off to a good start. His play often seems dictated by how he starts. They will need much more than his 10 points and three rebounds in Milwaukee.

    • Check out: David Wesley's matchup with Michael Redd. The Rockets acquired Wesley as much to defend shooting guards as for his own offense. :confused:
    #1 Rockets34Legend, Dec 31, 2004
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2004
  2. Roc Paint

    Roc Paint Contributing Member

    Aug 12, 2001
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    Bye bye, Gundy bye bye.
  3. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

    Aug 27, 1999
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    Rudy says, "Great analysis!"
  4. Texas Stoke

    Texas Stoke Contributing Member

    Aug 16, 2002
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