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Chron: Rockets go for passing marks

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by SmeggySmeg, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. SmeggySmeg

    SmeggySmeg Contributing Member

    Feb 23, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Feb. 8, 2004, 11:50PM

    Rockets go for passing marks
    Spurs to challenge ball movement

    Team W L PCT GB
    Minnesota 35 15 .700 ---
    San Antonio 34 18 .654 2
    Dallas 32 18 .640 3
    Houston 29 21 .580 6
    Memphis 29 21 .580 6
    Denver 29 23 .558 7
    Utah 25 26 .490 10.5
    As of Feb 8 2004 10:49 p.m.

    For all the times the Rockets have reached the same conclusion, it still sounds like a revelation.

    "We'll score better," coach Jeff Van Gundy said, "when we pass better."

    Eureka! Finally the Rockets have solved their offensive problems.

    "We can see if we really look for the open man," Van Gundy said.

    It sounds so elementary. And every time the Rockets say they realize the importance of passing, it sounds as if they finally get it for good.

    But this time, they might have the season's greatest amount of evidence supporting ball movement. And they have it at a time they might need it most, with the Spurs bringing to Toyota Center tonight the defense that suffocated the Rockets in consecutive games two months ago.

    For three quarters in Atlanta on Saturday, the Rockets gave themselves a vivid demonstration of what can happen to their offense when it bogs down with between-the-legs dribbles, low-post battles and tough shots. With the Hawks trapping and falling back into zones, the Rockets faced a 14-point deficit amid feelings of desperation and urgency.

    "We weren't giving our offense a chance," forward Maurice Taylor said. "The first guy who caught it shot the ball. That's not the way our offense runs. Once we got back to moving the ball, we were able to get some open shots, break them down a little bit and get to the basket."

    Through three quarters, the Rockets had made 19 of 52 (36.5 percent) of their shots, with 10 assists. But feeling the pressure of time running out, the Rockets stopped holding the ball, began whipping passes around and through the Hawks' defense, and rolled through their most prolific quarter of the season.

    "We definitely started moving the ball more when we needed to," said guard Steve Francis, who took only 12 shots but led the Rockets with 24 points. "We found the open man, and that's what did it. We kept swinging, swinging, swinging the ball. We're getting there. We're definitely trying to feed the well. When somebody is hot, we try to go to him all the time. But we have to move the ball. This time, we had a couple shot-clock violations because we had too many passes. But that's good for us because it shows we're not selfish."

    In a 35-point fourth quarter, the Rockets made eight of 12 shots and had assists on their first six field goals.

    "That's the history of our team," said guard Cuttino Mobley, who had 13 points in that quarter. "When we pass the ball well, we play well."

    Students of history will also note that when the Rockets' offense bogs down, it falls apart. Energy is drained. Shots clang. The Rockets pass as if playing with a bowling ball.

    The 66 points they scored in Detroit matched the fewest in franchise history. But the 140 they totaled in consecutive games against the Spurs marked the Rockets' worst two-game total ever. And those were not isolated occurrences.

    The Rockets have failed to score 80 points in 13 games this season, one more than in the franchise's first 29 years combined. They have fallen short of 80 eight times since Dec. 11. They have failed to score 70 twice this season, one shy of the rest of team history combined.

    Though the Rockets are second to the Spurs in fewest points allowed per game, they don't often win games with both teams scoring in the 70s. They are 2-11 when failing to score 80.

    Some of the low scoring is because of tempo. The Rockets are determined to work the ball inside, either off the dribble or with Yao Ming posting up. But Yao typically needs to move through the offense rather than quickly station himself in the post, movement that takes time and limits possessions per game.

    The Rockets' defense, which uses double teams on many screens, switches and other help defenses, also dramatically slows opposing offenses, further limiting possessions per game and total scoring.

    The Rockets' average of 87.1 points per game ranks 27th in the NBA. Their 43.4 percent shooting is 18th in the league.

    But as they have so often, the Rockets have become convinced they can improve their offense by improving one part of it first: their passing. With 18.3 assists per game, they rank ahead of only Miami. But more than eyeing improved numbers, the Rockets have sought more passes before each shot, something that keyed Saturday's offensive turnaround.

    "You get in a rhythm when everybody is touching the ball, moving it in and out, penetrating," Jim Jackson said. "That's winning basketball."

    Said Van Gundy: "Sometimes it's sacrificing a good shot to get a great shot. There's so many things that it includes. It's hard to list them all, but quicker decisions are a big part of it."


    Rockets summary
    One of the greats

    When Rockets center Yao Ming plays in the NBA Rookie Challenge game on Friday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will serve as one of the coaches for the sophomore team.

    Though there likely will not be much coaching involved, the meeting could give Yao a chance to talk to a center whoalso effectively used a hook shot, a big size advantage and agility uncommon for players that size. Jabbar, the all-time NBA scoring leader, six-time MVP and 19-time All-Star, will be an assistant coach for the sophomore team coached by Michael Cooper.

    "I haven't been able to see a lot of his games, but I think it will be a great opportunity to learn more about him," Yao said. "I would like to talk to him.

    "He's not a very good actor, though."

    Yao said he had seen Abdul-Jabbar only in his performance with Bruce Lee and has never seen him steal scenes in Airplane!.

    Big minutes

    Several weeks ago, Clarence Weatherspoon was not playing at all. After he was dealt to the Rockets, Weatherspoon played in just one of his first 16 games. He then played in three of the Rockets' next six games.

    But in the Rockets' past four games, he has averaged 18.8 minutes off the bench, 6.5 points and six rebounds.

    His effort off the bench at all three frontcourt positions has become so valuable that Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said Weatherspoon turned the game around Saturday in Atlanta. Weatherspoon had seven rebounds in 15 minutes on Saturday.

    "I wanted to come in and be active, get to the board and keep the ball alive," Weatherspoon said. "I didn't get the looks I had the other night (when he made four of six shots against the Bulls). But I just wanted to get some rebounds and be active. Any time you can bring an energy boost, that's what the bench is for -- to give a team a lift."

    Block party

    Rockets guards Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis each had a season high in blocked shots Saturday. Mobley blocked three shots, and Francis matched his season high with two.

    But each had one highlight block, Francis getting a piece of a shot by 6-10 center Nazr Mohammed and Mobley getting a full-hand swat of a Dan Dickau 3, bringing into question which was the greater block.

    "Look who it was," Francis said. "Look who he had. And look who I blocked.

    "Dickau, Mohammed. Dickau, Mohammed. Dickau, Mohammed," Francis said, lowering his right hand each time he said Dickau and raising his left each time he said Mohammed. "You tell me."

    Hearing this, Mobley jumped in.

    "Hold up," Mobley said. "You're bragging on blocking Mohammed? You're bragging on Mohammed?

    "He had two, and I had three. And Mohammed jumps as high as Dickau."

  2. disney

    disney Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Likes Received:
    ROX did not do enough on moving.not only the ball but also the players.theres still too much one on one or one on more. one player post-up play or whatever,the others just watch him.this situation happens all the time.
  3. RoxBigFan

    RoxBigFan Contributing Member

    Apr 4, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Finally they write something about Rox passing problem every fan sees. Ironically, every player is saying we should pass more including the one who does between-the-legs-dribble most. Hope they do what they say. Be a man!
  4. nyquil82

    nyquil82 Contributing Member

    Oct 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
    lets get this out of the way....

    L00k!!! T3y r f!gh+1ng!!!! TraDe 3m!!!! lol!!!!!

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