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Chron: Rockets suffer retrogression against Pacers

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by GRENDEL, Jan 19, 2005.


    GRENDEL Contributing Member

    Nov 21, 2002
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    Rockets suffer retrogression
    Players hardly look groovy in uniforms from 1971 season
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    at Orlando, 7:00 p.m.
    Listings; KILT (610 AM)


    For their turn at one of the NBA's throwback nights, the Rockets trotted out every bit of 1970s glitz they could think of. Apparently in the '70s, every man, woman, child and bear had bad taste and an Afro.

    But before the first disco beat echoed, at least one detail of the basketball part of the night was clear. The Rockets were tempting fate so brazenly, so wantonly, there appeared to be no way they would score more than 70-something points.

    To beat the Pacers, the Rockets would have to shut them down, too. But the Pacers did not play along, and the Rockets' defense made the shut-down games of just a few days ago seem like a distant memory as Indiana rolled through the fourth quarter Tuesday to an 87-74 win.

    The Rockets expect some nights like Tuesday, even without the '70s theme and the uniforms from the 1971-72 season, their first after their move from San Diego. The Rockets also expect to defend as they never could against Indiana.

    "Obviously, if you don't score baskets, you hopefully will play some good defense," guard David Wesley said. "Even (with Indiana) hitting tough shots, the first thing you're going to look at is the shooting percentage. So they hit a few tough shots. But to shoot 51 (percent) in the first (half) and shoot even better in the second half when the game is really close, it's tough to win when you're giving up that kind of shooting percentage."

    Two bad nights
    The Rockets held the Nets to 38.8 percent shooting and the Spurs to 35.3 percent shooting to cap their four-game winning streak, but they offered almost no resistance in Memphis on Monday and had no answers for Indiana.

    They seemed to improve defensively since leaving Memphis, where the Grizzlies made 50.7 percent of their shots and the Rockets barely got in the way. But the Pacers shot even better, making 52.2 percent of their field-goal attempts and 66.7 percent of their 3-pointers.

    In many ways, that was the difference. The Pacers made eight of 12 treys, with Jamaal Tinsley nailing five of six in leading Indiana with 28 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.

    The Rockets made just one of 13 3-pointers on their worst 3-point shooting night of the season. Their 74 points were just a field goal better than their worst scoring night of the season (72 in a Nov. 30 home loss to Detroit).

    But to the Rockets, everything went back to defense.

    "We play great defense against teams like San Antonio ... and come out the last two games, and both teams shoot over 50 percent on us," said Tracy McGrady, who had his third consecutive 28-point game. "I think we have to take a little more pride, can't get too comfortable with a four-game winning streak. We have to keep grinding it out. I think now we're relaxing a little bit. I think we just have to take individual pride on defense."

    One bad quarter
    The Rockets undid the damage of the first half and another horrible home start. After scoring a season-low 12 points in the first quarter against New Jersey on Thursday and 10 against the Spurs, the Rockets reached all of 13 against the Pacers.

    "We're playing with fire getting off to the slow starts," guard Jon Barry said. "We were able to bail ourselves out last week in those two games, Jersey and San Antonio. You start a game and set a tone, it gives them confidence."

    After trailing by as much as 10 in the first half and nine in the third quarter, the Rockets achieved a tie with a 9-0 run, mostly at the free-throw line.

    Jermaine O'Neal, who had 27 points, hit a jumper at the buzzer to end the third quarter with the Pacers in front. But with 9 1/2 minutes left, the game was tied at 63, and the Rockets' slow start and shaky defense had been overcome.

    They still, however, had not found away to throw themselves in front of the Pacers. In 2 1/2 minutes, Indiana swept from a 63-63 tie to a 12-0 run.

    "Obviously, we're struggling in all facets," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "They got on a good run. It went from tied to down 10 pretty quickly. Everyone wants to anoint you when you win like you have it all solved, and it never is that way. Also, when you're not going well, you're closer to it going good than people realize.

    "You can't tell from the last two games, but our defense was a strong suit."

    The victory against the Spurs that capped the four-game winning streak was just two games ago. And if Tuesday's spectacle proved anything or offered hope, it was that the past does come back.



    Rockets Summary
    No rest for Rockets
    The Rockets took the unusual step of holding a shootaround between back-to-back games on Tuesday, an especially unexpected session in the midst of a stretch of four games in five nights.

    But with the early arrival (12:35 a.m.) following Monday's game at Memphis, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy called for the extra work on getting the ball inside with penetration and post-ups.

    "Last night, we got in early (from Memphis), but it's also how we played and how teams are playing us," Van Gundy said of calling for the extra practice. "We've got to be able to get the all inside better in the paint.

    "When we shot the ball without the ball getting in the paint last night we were at 27 percent efficiency, and when we got the ball in the paint, we were at 57 percent.

    "Teams are making it hard to get it in there," he continued. "We wanted to review what we could do to get it in there. They've put on more ball pressure. We're small and we had no impact on them with ball pressure. Their ball pressure had us back on our heels. Two, everyone is being physical — three-quarter front, drape, full front — and we're not reacting as well to that as we need to."

    Yao Ming, limited to 24 minutes by foul trouble, took just six shots in Memphis on Monday. With little penetration, the Rockets scored just 28 points in the paint and shot 38.9 percent.

    "Either one (penetration or post-up), if the ball touches the paint first, our efficiency goes way up," Van Gundy said. "The shot doesn't have to take place in the paint. Compacting the defense is critical. Our perimeter players were not nearly as aggressive putting the ball on the ground as we need to be going against extreme ball pressure."

    Taylor sidelined
    The Rockets placed forward Maurice Taylor on the injured list with the flu, activating Clarence Weatherspoon.

    The Rockets made the move, coach Jeff Van Gundy said, because with their busy schedule, the flu would have forced Taylor to miss most of the five games he'll now have to skip anyway, and they can't go into this stretch short-handed. "His flu is not a good case, and we play three games in the next four days," Van Gundy said.

    McGrady honored
    Rockets forward Tracy McGrady was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for his play in wins against the Mavericks, Nets and Spurs. McGrady led the Rockets in scoring (25.3 points per game) on 43.1 percent shooting, assists (7.3 per game) and steals (three per game).

    Press row view
    The Rockets know they must defend as they did against the Spurs rather than as they have against the Grizzlies and Pacers. They know this because they also know there will be many times they shoot as they have the past three games. There is just little margin for error offensively. Even with Yao Ming chipping in, if they don't get good shooting from at least one guard ( Bob Sura, David Wesley and Jon Barry made a combined four of 17 shots), and probably two, they'll usually have trouble scoring.

    Inside the numbers
    The Pacers had two offensive rebounds, the fewest in the NBA this season and second-fewest ever for a Rockets opponent. ... Tracy McGrady's four blocked shots were a season-high. ... The Rockets scored just two points off the bench.

    Did you know?
    In the four games since they scored 124 points against Dallas Jan. 12, the Rockets have averaged 80.25 points, topping 80 only when they had 94 against the Nets in overtime last Thursday.


  2. vunny1408

    vunny1408 Contributing Member

    Jun 10, 2003
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    Interesting stat showing how much better the shooting % is when we dump the ball inside and draw the defense into the paint. I'm glad that JVG is stressing dumping it in more often...can it be that hard?

    Get the ball the Yao, Juwan, Mo..whoever it may be. Inside - Out, it's taken 2 years longer than it should to implement this system. KG touches the ball everytime down...force it in !!
  3. vunny1408

    vunny1408 Contributing Member

    Jun 10, 2003
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    backcourt needs to practice open shots, yao needs to learn to hold onto the ball, stay outta foul trouble, dunk the ball at any and all opportunities (put him through dunk practice), and tmac well, he needs to drive it in more.

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