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Chron: Rockets have plenty in reserve

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets34Legend, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Support players don't pine for playing time

    BOSTJAN Nachbar cannot think of anything better than contributing to a Rockets victory, whether by making a key defensive stop or a backbreaking 3-pointer or simply by being one of the guys in the rotation.

    At the beginning of the season, Nachbar was one of those guys. He averaged 15 minutes in the first 13 games, but now, he rarely sees any minutes.

    "It's hard," said Nachbar, who has played in two of the Rockets' last six games. "I think that's the toughest thing in the NBA -- being a guy who is sometimes in the rotation and a guy who is sometimes not. It's the hardest thing, because you always have to be ready. And then when you do get a chance, you better do your best, do it 100 percent, because you might not get in for another five or six games."

    Nachbar is not in a unique position on the Rockets. Aside from Maurice Taylor, playing time for the reserves has fluctuated all season. Eric Piatkowski and Scott Padgett have each played critical roles at different times, and Clarence Weatherspoon, Mark Jackson and Adrian Griffin have received the bulk of minutes off the bench lately.

    Coach Jeff Van Gundy rarely messes with his starting lineup. Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, Jim Jackson, Kelvin Cato and Yao Ming have started 50 of 53 games this season. Yet even with almost two-thirds of the season completed, Van Gundy is still trying to secure a nine-man rotation.

    "I know who I sort of want to play," Van Gundy said. "We were playing well with three big guys earlier in the year, rotating those three. There was a severe drop in energy, though, and I thought we needed to add a fourth big guy. Now, who's the fourth guy -- Scott or Clarence -- depends on the game. And then behind Jimmy and Cuttino, we played Mark for more minutes and moved Steve to the two."

    The final spot is still up for grabs. Griffin is slowly working his way into the rotation after spending the first three months on the injured list. Nachbar plays only sparingly these days, and Piatkowski hasn't played in 14 of the last 16 games because he failed to provide an offensive spark when he was in the rotation.

    Weatherspoon has made the biggest strides since joining the team on Dec. 30. He didn't play for an entire month after being acquired from the Knicks, but the waiting paid off. Now, he is usually the team's seventh man and has provided energy off the bench and physical play that has helped him consistently secure key rebounds.

    "I think that's one of the things that has helped me to do well and stay in the league for a long time," Weatherspoon said. "I've been able to mix it up inside, rebound in traffic, and kick it out. I love the dirty work, I guess you could say. We've got a lot of scorers. I'm just trying to find my niche to get out on the court, and I think I've done pretty well."

    While Weatherspoon continues to get his chances nightly, the rest of the reserves were able to make a small case for why they should have more minutes during Tuesday night's 107-81 cakewalk over the Wizards. The starters all left the game with more than eight minutes remaining, and all of the reserves, except Piatkowski, took over.

    Nachbar hit his first three attempts, including two 3-pointers. Padgett hit a 3-pointer and picked up four rebounds and one steal in five minutes. Griffin played 17 minutes, hitting his only field-goal attempt, handing out two assists and picking up two rebounds.

    Weatherspoon and Mark Jackson each played more substantial minutes. Jackson finished with nine assists, while Weatherspoon had a season-high five assists to go along with eight points and six rebounds.

    "Nights like that make the practices worthwhile," Griffin said. "I call it the `B' team. They do a lot of stuff behind the scenes that don't get seen. We're putting in the time in the weight room, running, pushing the starters. And to get in the game is like a reward. It makes it worthwhile. We all know how hard it is to get everybody on the court. To get everyone to play is just not possible in this league."

    Rockets summary

    Francis' shot

    Steve Francis grabbed a statistics sheet after Wednesday's practice, wanting to make sure his field-goal percentage was still above 40 percent. Then he turned to the reporters and pointed out his numbers.

    "I just want to know one thing," Francis said. "Ever since the beginning of the year, I was shooting 30-something percent. Ain't nobody said nothing about me getting back to 40 percent. ... To all those people who said I was shooting bad, tell them to kiss my (butt)."

    Francis' field-goal percentage went over the 40 percent mark for the first time this season after the Lakers game on Feb. 11. He is currently shooting 40.3 percent from the field.

    Rest while you can

    Coach Jeff Van Gundy wants the Rockets to stay focused after taking the past weekend off for the All-Star break. The team has an unusually long layover before its game against the Mavericks on Saturday and is taking advantage of the extra preparation time.

    The Rockets are implementing new plays to combat the zone defense and hope to defeat Dallas for only the second time in six trips to the American Airlines Center. Starting on Saturday in Dallas, the Rockets have five games in seven days.

    "We've got to take advantage of the next three days," Van Gundy said. "We've got a tough schedule coming up at Dallas, against a rested Atlanta team, at San Antonio and then against a rested Cleveland team. So we're going to have to be on top of it."

    Room to improve

    Coach Jeff Van Gundy said he was "very happy" about the Rockets' winning five of their last six games, but he still wants to see improvement. The Rockets' only loss during that stretch was an 85-82 setback to the Spurs. The victories came against the Wizards, Lakers, Hawks, Bulls and Bucks.

    When asked what the Rockets have been doing right recently, Van Gundy couldn't pinpoint any one area.

    "I think in different games, it's been different things," he said. "The thing we should be asking ourselves is why didn't we win the other one.

    "I'm very happy, but I think we can do better. That's the point of the season -- to try to do better."

    Harris to coach Yao

    Yao Ming got a new coach Wednesday when it was announced Mavericks assistant Del Harris will lead the Chinese national team at this summer's Athens Olympics.

    Harris, who was the Rockets' head coach for four seasons from 1979-83, will become the first foreigner to guide China in international play.

    "Pick-and-roll is really pick-and-roll in any language," said Harris.

    Harris, 66, has more than 500 career NBA coaching victories. He said his NBA coaching background as well as his international résumé -- he has been involved with national teams from Puerto Rico, Canada and the United States -- gave him an edge over other candidates for the Chinese job.

    "It's an honor," said Harris, who was an assistant to Rudy Tomjanovich on the 1998 U.S. team at the World Championships in Athens. "The people of China are looking at this as a very significant, landmark event. It's important for sports, but it's also symbolic of the new, open China that they want to put forward to the world."
  2. StupidMoniker

    StupidMoniker I lost a bet

    Jul 18, 2001
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    Is Francis joking here? I sure hope so, because otherwise he is bragging about shooting FORTY FREAKIN' PERCENT! That is good for 96th best shooter in the NBA.
  3. Oski2005

    Oski2005 Contributing Member

    Nov 14, 2001
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    I don't think he was bragging about what his current number is, but that he's improving. He's still wrong though because he makes it sound like he's been under 40% the whole season, which isn't true. He started off in the low 40's and worked his way down to 39% which means he was shooting worse and worse as the season progressed. Only recently, has he been shooting better.
  4. outlaw

    outlaw Member

    Feb 15, 1999
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    what a punk-ass statement. You were shooting bad Stevie and you still are! Trade this guy before he does/says something even more Vernon Maxwellian.
  5. JoeBarelyCares

    JoeBarelyCares Contributing Member

    Jan 9, 2001
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    Ok - is everyone happy, now?
  6. rocket3forlife2

    Nov 16, 2003
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    i think you guys take alot of stuff too serious:)
  7. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

    Nov 20, 2002
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    **DING DING!**

    And the Understatement-of-the-Year Award goes to rocket3forlife2!

  8. Toast

    Toast Member

    Feb 21, 2001
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    I'm pretty sure Mark Jackson's the 7th man. Weatherspoon & Padgett get to fight it out for 8th man.
  9. Charvo

    Charvo Member

    Nov 19, 2003
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    Steve Francis is in last place among starting Western Conference point guards. He has Earl Boykins and Speedy Claxton ahead of him in terms of regular field goal percentage and adjusted field goal percentage. The fact that he has a higher field goal percentage than bricking Eastern conference point guards is irrelevant. Steve Nash is having an injury-riddled season, and he still has a better field-goal percentage than Francis. Mike Bibby is by far the guy I'd pick as the point guard of the Rockets due to his ability to gun it from outside. He reminds me of a Kenny Smith.
  10. sup123

    sup123 Member

    Dec 5, 2003
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    if we have plenty in reserve why the heck do we play our starters 40+ minutes. :confused: :confused: :confused:
  11. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2002
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    As I said in another post. Steve didn't draw the line at 40%. The media did. They kept saying he was shooting below 40%. All Steve did was accept that figure, and made a comment about passing the figure that the media had been using.

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