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Chron: Running Rockets zip past Jazz in 19-point victory

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by GRENDEL, Jan 3, 2005.


    GRENDEL Contributing Member

    Nov 21, 2002
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    Rockets take running seriously
    Van Gundy's kidding about fast-breaking, but players take to speed in easy victory
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    Houston 99,
    Utah 80


    vs. Phoenix, 8:00 p.m.
    Listings; KILT (610 AM)


    Jeff Van Gundy tried to keep a straight face, but failed miserably. This, of course, was greatly preferred over being miserable after failing.

    The Runnin' Rockets had rolled to a 99-80 win over the Jazz, streaking through the second half to a win so easy, fans booed when the Rockets opted against taking a last shot that might have earned the 14,574 at Toyota Center free hamburgers.

    But to Van Gundy, there was no mystery about why the Rockets had rung up 55 second-half points or scored 22 fast-break points Sunday, easily their most this season.

    "That's who we are," he said. "We're a fast-breaking team.

    "It's my system. That's what it is."

    Van Gundy was undoubtedly kidding. But his players weren't. And one went one step further.

    "Hey, that's the type of offense I like running," forward Tracy McGrady said after scoring 25 points, topping 20 for the 10th consecutive game. "Just getting out, running, forget about plays. Let's get out and run in transition."

    Van Gundy just might go with that — if the Rockets always defend and rebound as they did in Sunday's second half.

    The Rockets increased their defensive intensity enough in the second half to consistently get out on the break, and passed the ball so much more sharply that in the place of the first-half jumpers they missed, they lived on layups.

    Bob Sura especially made the high-speed style work. With 24 points, 10 rebounds and five steals, he matched his season best for each. The last time he scored 24, against the Warriors on Dec. 17, was not coincidentally the night the Rockets had 18 fast-break points, which until Sunday had been their most off the break this season.

    "Especially in transition, I'm kind of a freewheeling-type player," Sura said. "Get up and down, make plays for myself and for my teammates.

    "We're trying to get up and down, especially when I'm out there and getting rebounds to start the fast break, and also with our defense. We get out on the break, and it led to easy baskets."

    Unable to click offensively through the first half, the Rockets began the second half by getting the only shots they had not tried — layups.

    Taking it to the rim
    After the Jazz began the half by taking a four-point lead, the Rockets got the ball to the rim on every shot, scoring on three three-point plays in an 11-0 run.

    Carlos Boozer put in a layup before the Rockets scored the next nine points, with Juwan Howard and Sura each finishing breaks.

    Mehmet Okur ended that run with a jumper, but when David Wesley answered with a 3-pointer, the Rockets had a 67-52 lead midway through the third quarter, and had scored 20 of the night's 22 fast-break points.

    "Usually, when we come in at halftime, it has fast-break points on the board and our fast-break points sometimes are like, three and four points," McGrady said. "But 22, that's pretty good."

    Defense key
    But the Rockets repeatedly cited what happened before they got the ball as the key to running with it.

    The Jazz made just 23 of 40 of their shots (32.5 percent) in the second half and with 27 missed shots got just five offensive rebounds, with just one in the last 20 minutes when the Rockets took control.

    "This shows what this team could do defensively," Wesley said. "We toughened up in the second half, caused some turnovers, got out in transition. When you can get some transition offense off turnovers it makes your offense feel and look a lot better. Then the other stuff just falls into place."

    Board games
    The Jazz are second in the NBA in percentage of rebounds on the offensive boards, averaging 12.6 per game. With Yao Ming foul-plagued and flu-fatigued pulling down four rebounds (though with 15 points), the Rockets outrebounded Utah 47-33. They led by as much as 23 in the fourth quarter.

    "It starts with stops and rebounds," Van Gundy said. "Utah is a very good offensive rebounding team, and I thought we did a very good job for the most part on the boards. We got some steals that led to good opportunities, and guys were making some extra passes."

    Those extra passes often came on the run, and the Rockets enjoyed the style enough to call it their own.

    "When we play like that," Sura said, "We're hard to beat."

    As much as Van Gundy might have been joking, Sura meant every word.



    Rockets Summary
    Replacement parts
    The Rockets have had eight players on the injured list and eight starting lineups. The Jazz have nine on the injured list with Sunday's their ninth starting lineup. Of the 10 starters when the teams met in Utah on Nov. 26, only Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Carlos Boozer started Sunday.

    The Rockets' latest roster moves could be a blow for stability.

    The Rockets, with one spot open on the active roster, activated point guard Andre Barrett and forward Ryan Bowen, putting Clarence Weatherspoon on the injured list with the strained right calf he suffered Friday. After the move and last week's trades, a team that began the season with four point guards and four power forwards, has two point guards, two shooting guards, two small forwards, three power forwards and two centers.

    "We fit in a little bit better," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We'll see, though. I don't think that's been problematic with the roster sort of changing back and forth, except the ones due to injury. But I like having Ryan activated. I think he has a special energy level. And we like having three point guards on our team. This gives us two."

    "I hated to have to put Clarence on there because I thought Clarence played well the other night. Unfortunately, he had a re-occurrence of the same thing that bothered him last season with the calf injury."

    But Bowen knew that the only constant this season has been change.

    "You never know from day to day what will happen," he said. "You would like to think we can get in a flow, but you just have to wait and see how things go. As players like myself and Andre, we have to stay ready."

    Yao returns
    Rockets center Yao Ming returned to the team after missing Friday's game with flu-like symptoms, the first game he had missed in his 193-game NBA career, then the NBA's eighth-longest active streak.

    "I'm better, getting better, but not all better," Yao said. "It's really hard in the season because I missed not just the game, but I had three days off that I cannot do anything. I just put my legs on the bed. That's all I can do, rest. I think that will make my (conditioning) go down."

    Yao was proud of the streak, but did not seem disappointed to have it end.

    "I was sure I would miss a game sometime," he said. "I did not know when. I will still have a long career. Maybe I can get another (streak)."

    Press row view
    The Rockets will not go this route often. If nothing else, Yao Ming should get over the flu, becoming a more frequent focus of the offense. But in the half-court Sunday, the Rockets went to a more motion-oriented style rather than relying on isolations and post-ups. The ball moved quickly and the Rockets scored well enough that they can know the cuts and pick-and-rolls might be there when they need them.

    Inside the numbers
    The Rockets' past seven wins are by the seven largest margins of the season, with Sunday's 19-point win their second-largest of the season. ... The Rockets' 32 third-quarter points were their most this season. ... Juwan Howard became the fifth Rockets player to get a double double, with 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.

    Did you know
    The Rockets are better than .500 for just the second time this season (they were 3-2 on Nov. 9).


    #1 GRENDEL, Jan 3, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2005
  2. edc

    edc Contributing Member

    Oct 30, 2000
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    That is just about as funny as JVG dunking on the 5-foot goal.
  3. Chilly_Pete

    Chilly_Pete Contributing Member

    Aug 17, 2001
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    It was late in the game last night and we had not completely put away the Jazz yet. We had run off some fast break plays but our offense was getting kind out of sync and the Jazz were making a small run. Van Gundy called to Sura from the sideline to get the ball into Yao. It's nice to be able to run the fast break, but when the game starts getting tight having a big man like Yao to go to is something a lot of teams don't have.
  4. rvpals

    rvpals Member

    Dec 14, 2002
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    You nailed it. This should be our system from now on. Opportunitstic basketball, easy points in transistion. When things get tight, go back to your best offensive weapon to create problems for the other team.
  5. fa7999

    fa7999 Member

    Dec 19, 2002
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    You were probably referring the beginning of the 4th quarter where the Rockets went to Yao 3 times in a row and he scored each time.

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