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[Chron] Rockets make strides but still unsatisfied

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by The Hungarian Rocket, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. The Hungarian Rocket

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    Rockets make strides but still unsatisfied
    Ironing out the offense remains a work in progress
    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    Midway through the preseason's four weeks, the Rockets are unbeaten. Tracy McGrady has seemed able to take over games at will. Yao Ming looks stronger and more agile. Stromile Swift on Saturday was often sensational in his Rockets debut.

    In San Antonio, turnovers were down, rebounds were up, and the Spurs — though limited by the usual preseason distribution of minutes — were beaten.

    So with all that going right, the Rockets declared that overall they are playing tolerably — at best.

    This leaves them roughly where they should be after three of eight preseason games. But as the Rockets head to Laredo to face the Seattle SuperSonics tonight, they believe that for whatever progress or encouraging signs they have seen, they still have a long way to go.

    "We still have some work to do, a lot of work to do," McGrady said. "Some things look good, but we have to sharpen up offensively and defensively. But it's coming."


    A lot of positives
    Coach Jeff Van Gundy's two greatest areas of concerns after the first two games, turnovers and rebounding, improved. But that one game of improvement was not enough for him to feel confident about those areas, especially the boards.

    Still, McGrady drove the Rockets through their ragged early minutes and had 21 points in his 18 minutes. Juwan Howard and Swift combined for 27 points. The Rockets cut their turnovers to 15, allowing just six points off turnovers.

    The Rockets continued to make mistakes running their offense, but those should not be too difficult to correct, especially when Van Gundy begins to give more minutes to players in a shorter rotation.

    "This was a lot better than the first two," guard Jon Barry said. "That's what you strive for so you go into the last game playing well. By that last one, we want to be hitting on all cylinders.

    "(Saturday) was a solid effort, better on the boards. (It was) Stromile's first appearance, and he looked very good. Tracy took over for a few minutes. Even though it's preseason, it feels good to win in (San Antonio) because I don't think many of us have. We have a chance to do something."


    Making adjustments
    With point guard Rafer Alston getting the night off, the Rockets initially were slow to get into their offense. But they usually reacted better than they had been at adjusting when the Spurs' defense took away their first options.

    "There's a number (of areas to be improved), but not making compound mistakes is the biggest one," Van Gundy said. "We would make a mistake on offense and trot back on defense.

    "I think we'll be a fairly good offensive team. Whether we can rebound and be mentally strong and all that, that remains to be seen."

    jonathan.feigen@chron.com

    * * *

    RESOURCES
    ROCKETS UPDATE

    • Saturday: Rockets 95, Spurs 87.
    • Preseason record: 3-0.

    • Today: vs. Seattle SuperSonics at the Laredo Entertainment Center.

    • TV/radio: FSNH; 610 AM.

    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/bk/bkn/3399100
     
  2. Zboy

    Zboy Contributing Member

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    Rockets Summary

    Trying to find his shot
    Rockets shooting guard David Wesley continued to struggle to find his outside shot, making one of seven shots in San Antonio on Saturday. He also was 1-of-7 in the first preseason game before getting the night off in the second.

    But Wesley said he is confident the shot will come around.

    "I'm two-for-the-pre-
    season," he said. "I just need to keep doing what I'm doing. The rhythm is going to come."

    Getting a Head count
    Rockets rookie Luther Head got his first start Saturday, replacing point guard Rafer Alston in the starting lineup. That did not mean, however, that the Rockets were ready to consider Head a point guard.

    "I don't want to label him, because I don't know what he is," coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I like that he has an innate sense of confidence in his own ability. He's one of the few young players that knows his place — quiet, dignified — goes about his job in a professional manner. What does that turn out to be as far as a player? I'm not sure yet."

    The Rockets had trouble getting into their offense early in the game before Tracy McGrady took over initiating it. In the second half, when McGrady was out, Head initially ran the offense but struggled at times until he was replaced by Moochie Norris.

    "Rafer's a one," Van Gundy said. "Moochie's a one, McGrady's a one, and Luther can defend ones."

    Good and tired
    As impressive as Stromile Swift was at times Saturday, particularly in the first half, he also seemed tired in spots after missing two games and a practice with a sore left arm.

    "I don't think he started in great condition, but certainly you can lose some conditioning," coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
     
  3. Zboy

    Zboy Contributing Member

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    That alone should get Luther some playing time this season. JVG has stressed time and time again that one of our problems is on the ball defense and stopping penetration. If he already considers Luther as someone who can somewhat remedy this, he will have no choice but to play him.
     
  4. jlwee

    jlwee Member

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    Rebounds improved can it be due the fact yao is not playing???
     
  5. Zboy

    Zboy Contributing Member

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    maybe, maybe no
     
  6. bejezuz

    bejezuz Contributing Member

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    Sort of. Cookie monster is a rebouding machine.
     
  7. poseyistheman

    poseyistheman Member

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    Tonight vs the sonics should be a victory aswell. This sonics isnt as good as last years team and we beat them 3 out of 4 times. Go Rockets!!!
     
  8. apostolic3

    apostolic3 Member

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    Rebounding definitely improved because Deke got so much time while Yao sat out. Deke can still block shots and rebound better than Yao. My #1 concern for us after team chemistry and injuries is rebounding.

    JVG must really feel good about the offense for him to make a comment like that in the preseason. Luther must really be a solid guy for JVG to compliment his attitude so many times already.
     

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