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[Chron] McGrady, Yao know when they need to be unselfish

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by macfan, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. macfan

    macfan Contributing Member

    Mar 12, 2005
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    Lopez woke up after two months of hybernation to finally write something about the Rockets.


    The exchange in the happy Rockets locker room was understandable, given that this team somehow, some way overcame its shortcomings yet again.

    Mike James, who wielded the dagger in Wednesday night's 100-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, called himself "V.J.," referring to the Pistons bench scorer of years gone by, Vinnie Johnson.

    "I got the microwave going tonight," said James, who finished with 15 points and knocked down the biggest shot of the night with a 3-pointer from the corner.

    Responded David Wesley, pointing out that the Rockets' backup point guard had exactly zero assists: "You mean Vijay Singh?"

    For most playoff teams, of course, assists tend to be a rather important part of the backup point guard's job description.

    So does solid point production from the power forward position.

    Yet in this one, the Rockets got exactly five points from their three primary big forwards — Clarence Weatherspoon, Ryan Bowen and Scott Padgett. Jon Barry, a guard, actually found himself playing the position for stretches.

    That's the predicament with which Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy must deal.

    Then there was the Rockets' version of balanced scoring through much of the first quarter — Tracy McGrady scoring half the points, Yao Ming the other.

    It was fun to watch, Yao and T-Mac toying with the Grizzlies while their teammates mostly ran the floor and fed the two stars the ball. But rest assured, all those easy touches and open looks will vanish when the strain, aggressiveness and loosely called games of the playoffs arrive.

    "Playoff teams are going to know (McGrady) is our No. 1 option, and you have to make the adjustments," Barry said. "When you go through the playoffs and make a long run, there's got to be heroes all over the place. You've got to have guys ... Steve Kerr, all those guys, make the plays."

    Somewhere amidst it all on Wednesday night, the Rockets were playing milk-carton defense against Grizzlies guard Mike Miller. They couldn't find him.

    Miller finished with 37 points, highlighting a huge come-from-behind effort by the Grizz. That's got to change if this terrific end to the season is going to translate into playoff success.

    Yet the Rockets won Wednesday night. And how they won might be the best hint at how this roll can continue, no matter if the playoffs turn into some kind of hack-a-Yao drudgery.

    Two of the best players in the NBA not only have fallen into an amazing groove of leading the way, they've learned when and how to give way to their supporting cast.

    "That's what I do," said McGrady, who rifled a pass to James for the game-clincher despite James' not getting off a shot for several minutes. "When teams run a double-team on me, my job is to go out there and make the right plays. They tried to blitz me ... I was fortunate to find my guys, and they were knocking down the shots. When it's rolling like that, I don't have to score that many points."

    The Rockets may not have a legitimate, playoff-proven four man anymore, given Juwan Howard's injury. There may be questions left to answer as tougher games approach.

    It may be more than fair to wonder where the points are going to come from when so many bumps and hacks aren't whistled

    And how will this team find its way when Yao is sandwiched between two large bodies or when McGrady gets grabbed, pushed and denied?

    This is how. The two best players on the floor are playing the most unselfishly in critical moments.

    It's no surprise in Yao's case, of course. But when T-Mac arrived from Orlando in the offseason, the prevailing worry was that McGrady simply was a glorified and better version of Steve Francis.

    That is, selfish and moody. Not the best of teammates to have. And those comments that he mailed in a game or two did nothing to help.

    But McGrady has been nothing of the sort here. Everyone knows these Rockets will go only as far as he will carry them. What we've learned about McGrady is that he doesn't translate such a burden into selfishness. He translates it to unselfishness when it's needed most, like on Wednesday.

    "In years past, I don't think (McGrady) had that same confidence in his teammates," Barry said. "He believes in us. If getting the ball to us is the right play, he's going to make it.

    "He got the ball to Scott Padgett early in the year; he got it to me a couple weeks ago. He got it to Mike tonight. Our main goal is to get the ball to Yao down low and to Tracy in the right spots, but it's not always going to be there. That's how we have to play the game."

    That's how McGrady and Yao are playing it. And the Rockets will always have a chance as long as they do
  2. PhiSlammaJamma

    Aug 29, 1999
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    Yeah, we have a chance if they play unselfishly, and it's about 20% from behind the arc.
  3. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

    Dec 5, 2001
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    Yao loses mad confidence. The noticable bad plays are when he'll do something stupid like getting the pass away from the key and try to take it in knowing full well he'll get double teamed. When that happens, he either gets into foul trouble or stops shooting.

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