1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Chron: Stout finish ends series skid at 6

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Visagial, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. Visagial

    Visagial Contributing Member

    Nov 16, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I hate starting a new thread for Chronicle articles but check out JVG's comments. Finally something positive from the coach!


    Stout finish ends series skid at 6
    Rockets finally do unto Mavs
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    Cuttino Mobley thought of all the games over all the years that had come down to the last minute, games much like Sunday's that the Rockets had lost.
    The Mavericks have had a way of reminding the Rockets of those struggles. And Sunday, when the Rockets seemed determined to end their Texas losing streak by beating Dallas, seemed hauntingly familiar.

    But when the Rockets came to the precipice where they have teased fans and tortured themselves over the years, they did just enough right in the final 61 seconds to not only end the Mavericks' hold over them with a 101-98 win at Toyota Center but to declare themselves healed.

    "There was 1:01 left in the game," Mobley said. "It was tied up. And it went our way. We stayed tough. (In the past), we would have probably lost it. We probably would have lost our temper with the calls.

    "That just shows our maturity level. Any other time we would have lost. Like that key shot Spoon (Clarence Weatherspoon) hit at the top of the key in Minnesota. That type of shot would have gotten us to the playoffs before. But we always missed it. Then we would have come down and fouled, or something silly always happened.

    "But now we knock down the shot, play good `D,' game's over. We beat them."

    Or to put it another way: "There is a phrase in Chinese: Resolve is victory," Yao Ming said.

    The win before a crowd of 18,134 ended a six-game Rockets losing streak to the Mavs and a 13-game skid against Texas rivals Dallas and San Antonio.

    The Rockets did not get their breakthrough until they pushed their luck to preposterous lengths, as if walking a tightrope in the wind. The Rockets' 30 turnovers were an NBA high for a winning team this season and more than they had squeezed into one game since the 1999-2000 season.

    But with Yao unstoppable inside -- he scored 20 of his 29 points in the first half -- the Rockets became determined to get the ball to him in the paint, forcing bad passes that led to the majority of the Mavericks' franchise-record 20 steals.

    "Most times when that (pass) was not being completed, the angle was bad," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "The pass was bad, and Yao was falling backward. He was leaning back, trying to seal (an assortment of defenders) by leaning back instead of just coming to meet the ball.

    "We'll worry about that tomorrow. Today was about having that toughness to win."

    Normally -- and as recently as Friday -- discussing turnovers has left Van Gundy looking as if he were trying to swallow a turtle. But on Sunday, Van Gundy found cause to gush in the occasion of the Rockets' finding a way to beat the Mavericks.

    "At times we were discombobulated," Van Gundy said. "But I think the biggest factor to winning in this league comes down many times to just having enough toughness and courage and discipline to just make one or two more plays than the other team. That's what we did."

    The Rockets made those plays in the final minutes. Jim Jackson had scored six consecutive Rockets points to give them a five-point lead. After the Mavericks rallied to a 90-90 tie, Yao tipped in a Jackson miss with 44.8 seconds left.

    Eduardo Najera tied the score. But after running the clock down to its last ticks, and after 47 1/2 minutes in which the Rockets passed as if firing BBs at their center, Steve Francis put a soft pass high above everyone else's reach.

    "(Yao) bailed me out," Francis said. "The clock was going down, and as I was going up to shoot. Yao's man came up a little bit. I threw it over to him. I think that was one of the most crucial plays of the game. I put it up high, toward the corner of the backboard. Coach has been telling us all year to put it up."

    Yao hit his layup despite a foul and made his 30th consecutive free throw to give the Rockets a three-point lead with 15.4 seconds left. When Jackson stole Antoine Walker's inbounds pass, the Rockets seemed to need only to make their free throws to win. Francis missed one of two, but Mobley and Weatherspoon made four in a row, the last two with 3.6 seconds left.

    With a three-point lead, Van Gundy called for Francis to send Steve Nash to the line with 2.9 seconds remaining, a strategy Van Gundy said he learned to embrace when an assistant to Mavericks coach Don Nelson when Nelson coached the Knicks in 1995-96.

    Nash made his first free throw, then fired his second off the front of the rim. But before either team could gather the rebound, Nash was called for a lane violation.

    Mobley made a free throw with two seconds left to push the lead back to three. With no timeouts to advance the ball, the Mavericks got their last shot with Michael Finley's heave that fell short from just inside midcourt.

    And after all these years looking up, the Rockets finally felt as if they and the Mavs had something in common.

    "They've got big goals. So do we," Van Gundy said. "It's hard to win in this league. It's hard to beat quality when you make mistakes like we did. To have the toughness to hold that team to 41 percent (shooting) is hard to do, and it's really hard when it's not going well on offense, so I'm really proud of them. We have things we need to correct, but I'm proud we hung tough."
  2. DavidS

    DavidS Contributing Member

    May 17, 2000
    Likes Received:
    That's cool that JVG noticed this. It will be corrected. A lot of the passes are bad. But Yao also has to come to the ball. He's falls back because he's leaning even when the ball is in the air. Defender stops pushing, Yao falls backwards, easy steal....

    The old "pull the chair" trick.
    #2 DavidS, Mar 8, 2004
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2004
  3. lancet

    lancet Contributing Member

    Dec 13, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I like this part. Obviously they (Yao and entry passer) need to practice that. An entry pass to a 7-6, 310 pound dude shouldn't be that hard. Shaq never had a problem with quicker/shorter front defender, no did Duncan, or even Sabonas, Big Z, or even Divac, the later few are slower than Yao. The positioning/passing need to come sharp and timely to keep defender honest.

    No biggie though. This will be easier part of the game. JVG knows how to do it.

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!

    Upgrade Now