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[Chron] Win shows possibilities are endless....

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Uprising, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Uprising

    Uprising Contributing Member

    Dec 29, 2000
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    Win shows possibilities are endless
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    By the opening minutes of the third quarter, Jeff Van Gundy had boiled the X's and O's down to a single word.

    "Attack!" he kept screaming.

    He said it after defensive rebounds and almost every time players flew by. Once upon a time, the Rockets believed they'd hired a different kind of coach.

    Remember him? Whatever happened to the Pat Riley protegé who wanted half-court basketball and a molasses pace?

    That coach was always more myth than reality. That coach was never what he was advertised to be.

    About the time Van Gundy found his mantra Tuesday evening, Yao Ming scooted across the lane and threw in a hook shot over Shaquille O'Neal. Then he banked one off the glass.

    Something changed at that point. The team that had looked so sluggish for a half came to life. The shots that weren't falling began to fall.

    And the Rockets were transformed and a game that was supposed to be a measuring stick became an indication of what they can be.

    Attack mode

    All of a sudden, the Rockets became the aggressors and the team with the NBA's best record and a 12-game winning stream — was on its heels.

    The Rockets trailed by 11 in the first half and by five at halftime. They dominated almost everything after that and held up down the stretch against O'Neal and the incomparable Dwyane Wade.

    They defeated the Heat 84-82 thanks to a relentless performance from Tracy McGrady, a huge game from Dikembe Mutombo and a smothering defensive effort that forced 18 turnovers.

    Until further notice, this game will stand as their measuring stick for all others. At a time when the Western Conference is being rearranged, with Tim Duncan out for at least two weeks and the Dallas Mavericks getting a new coach, the Rockets could see endless possibilities.

    Once Yao took the game to Shaq on consecutive possessions, others got the message. Bob Sura sliced into the lane and flipped the ball to David Wesley for a 3-pointer.

    The Rockets missed all 10 of their 3-pointers tin the first half. Their starting guards — Sura and Wesley — were 1 for 10 from the field in the first half. Funny how changing an approach also changed the results.

    Faster tempo helps

    They can't win without their jump shots. No team can. But the Rockets used penetration and resolve to push the action and change the tempo. And they rode that change to victory.

    They won, in part, because the Heat shot 40 percent from the field, because Wade was four of 19 and because of all those turnovers.

    But they also won because Wesley did a tremendous job on Wade. No matter how this season ends up, general manager Carroll Dawson can't get enough credit for the trades that brought Wesley, Jon Barry and Mike James.

    James hit the 3-pointer that seemed to seal it with 40.5 seconds remaining, but they all contributed. In the end, it wasn't sealed until Wesley made two foul shots with 13.2 seconds remaining, but that was when the Rockets typically flirted with disaster.

    No one contributed more than Wesley, who once more was given the assignment of guarding the best opposing perimeter player. Ask Wade this morning how he liked playing a game wearing Wesley like a warmup jacket.

    And there was Clarence Weatherspoon. He'd looked so tentative in three games since replacing the injured Juwan Howard that it was hard to remember what he'd once been.

    That is, an All-Star caliber power forward. He'd been a first-rate low post scorer and a solid rebounder.

    The Rockets don't know how much they'll get out of him. On Tuesday, he showed that there might still be something left in the tank. In 22 minutes, he scored 12 points and had four rebounds.

    Yet no one contributed more than Mutumbo. He's another guy Dawson targeted last summer. He's another guy Dawson was right about.

    He has been the Rockets' most consistent player. His defense, shot-blocking and rebounding are so consistent that they lose almost nothing when Yao is on the bench.

    In 25 minutes, he had eight points and 15 boards. The Rockets don't win without him.

    They got so much from so many that it was easy to overlook McGrady, who was typically brilliant in scoring 26 points. He was taking the ball to the hoop long before Van Gundy virtually ordered others to do the same.

    His moon-ball 3-pointer with 5:42 left stretched the lead to 12 points at 74-62. They had to hang on after that, but for one half, they sent a message to every team in the West.

    They drive Van Gundy crazy with stretches of slow-motion basketball. And there are nights like this one when they show every other NBA team what they can be.



    Rockets seeking piece to puzzle
    Weatherspoon takes lead in effort to fill in at forward

    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    Clarence Weatherspoon always said it would take time.

    Despite playing big minutes and being a strong rebounder and scorer early in his career, he said it wouldn't be easy going from the end of the bench into the starting rotation for the Rockets.

    The transition hasn't been smooth, but the veteran power forward has made strides since replacing Juwan Howard in the starting lineup four games ago.

    In the Rockets' 84-82 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night at Toyota Center, Weatherspoon was aggressive on both ends of the floor. He blocked Dwyane Wade's first shot attempt, scored a season-high 12 points and had four rebounds.

    Weatherspoon said the more he plays, the more comfortable he becomes.

    "You have to get used to being out there and get your confidence level up," Weatherspoon said. "I think that's the key and that's what I'm working on."

    The Rockets have struggled to find a solution ever since Howard sprained his knee March 14 at Golden State. They have used six players at power forward in the past four games, and Torraye Braggs was cleared to play for the first time by FIBA on Tuesday.

    Despite seven options and three games without Howard, the Rockets have yet to settle on a rotation. Weatherspoon and Scott Padgett have received the bulk of the minutes, with Ryan Bowen also shifting from the three to four.

    Dikembe Mutombo also has started plying alongside Yao Ming. And when the Rockets went small a couple of times against the Heat, Jon Barry played the four.

    Vin Baker has made only one appearance since Howard was injured.

    "I think we can do better there and I think we have to do better there and I have every confidence we will do better there," coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "There is not just one concern. Our team rebounding is a huge concern.

    "I think we can rebound the ball better, but we also have to have everybody playing with confidence that if left open, shoot it. I think we can do better there."

    Rebounding has been the biggest problem. Against Minnesota, Weatherspoon had only two rebounds and Padgett finished with only one. That was the main reason Van Gundy started experimenting with Yao and Mutombo in the game at the same time.

    "That was more of we were struggling to rebound the ball, and he's clearly our best rebounder," Van Gundy said of Mutombo. "I'm not sure we'd go to that for a lot of minutes, but we'll see."

    Van Gundy went with that same combination a few times against Miami. The move seemed to work again.

    Mutombo grabbed a Tracy McGrady miss and put it back in to cut the Rockets' deficit to 41-36 right before halftime. In 25 minutes, Mutombo had 15 rebounds and eight points.

    Van Gundy isn't ruling out any combinations at this point. Despite a couple of slow starts by Weatherspoon prior to Tuesday, Van Gundy has remained confident the veteran just needed time to adjust and gain confidence.

    The patience seems to have paid off. Weatherspoon struggled with foul trouble against Miami, but made strides offensively and defensively.

    He played a season-high 22 minutes and keyed the Rockets' 14-0 run in the third quarter. He sank two free throws to give the Rockets a 57-55 lead with 1:18 left in the quarter.

    On Miami's next possession, Weatherspoon stole the ball from Michael Doleac and drove through a crowded lane to give the Rockets a 59-55 lead.

    "I know his teammates have great confidence in him," Van Gundy said. "I know we as a coaching staff have unbelievable confidence in him. And I think if he approaches (the games) with his teammates' confidence in him and our confidence in him, he'll play with unbelievable confidence because we really do feel that he can get the job done."

    #1 Uprising, Mar 23, 2005
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2005
  2. Tonaaayyyy

    Tonaaayyyy Member

    Jun 17, 2002
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    hell jyeeaaa :D
  3. Uprising

    Uprising Contributing Member

    Dec 29, 2000
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    Man that first article gets me dang excited....I got chills. They're multiplying.
  4. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

    Aug 17, 2002
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    Man, am I glad we have such a sports writer in the Chronicle as Richard Justice, this guy is just great.

    I couldn't sum up the game better. Very nice article.
  5. thacabbage

    thacabbage Contributing Member

    Jun 30, 1999
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    I really don't feel too good about this win. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a great win, but the goal of the season for me was to see what Yao and Tracy could do for us. We won this game because of Mutombo and would have lost without him. He will likely be gone in 2 years. That troubles me that there are numerous nights when our backup outplays our franchise center. We're a great team this year, sure, but looking at the future, I can't get too excited about this one.
  6. thatboyz

    thatboyz Contributing Member

    Oct 19, 2003
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    I think a lot of other teams would beg to have this problem. It's great that we can have Dike step in like this and give us a great effort. The great thing about this team is that we have nights when Tracy and Yao do it for us (ex. Phoenix) and we have nights when other guys step up and help out. Having two guys dominate for your team is a nice formula to get regular season wins, but in the playoffs it's a total team effort. And Dike is consistent, it just depends on his playing time.
  7. tituspan

    tituspan Contributing Member

    Sep 4, 2002
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    I am not worried. It's not like we are counting on Deke to bring this kind of performance for us to win. It just happens that for this game, his contribution is essential for the win. But for most the other games, TMac and Yao is the focus and reason for our team's success.
  8. CriscoKidd

    CriscoKidd Member

    Oct 18, 1999
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    Obviously you haven't read too many of his articles. One article doesn't make him a good writer.

    Justice sux.
  9. Will

    Will Clutch Crew
    Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 1999
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    The grit, the aggression, the adjustment, the lineup creativity, the big wins. I can't stand it anymore. Why will Jeff Van Gundy not allow me to have his baby?

    GRENDEL Contributing Member

    Nov 21, 2002
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    And to think that everyone, at least it seemed, wanted VG gone after the 6-11 start. Where are all these people now?
  11. krosfyah

    krosfyah Contributing Member

    Aug 7, 2001
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    The Rox played the hottest team in the league with the most dominant player. Despite poor 4th quarter decisions, questionable calls by the refs and yet another poor shooting night, the Rockets still prevailed!!! If the Rox can overcome that, I'm feeling pretty good about this season. :cool:
  12. Almu

    Almu Contributing Member

    Feb 14, 1999
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    Will, Gundy is sterile. I know. I tried to have his baby for many years. Can't you tell how much I love him?
  13. MFW2310

    MFW2310 Contributing Member

    Nov 23, 2002
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    That's just disturbing. ;)
  14. RikQuik

    RikQuik Member

    Nov 10, 1999
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    The difference in this years team and last years team is simple: this year, we protect the ball.

    Cato was "hands of stone". Deke can at least catch and hold the ball. Sura and James make a lot less TOs than Francis did. Yao is still Yao, but the rest of the team has improved greatly in this area.

    Of course, we still have Mooch on the bench in case we need a few give-aways......
  15. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

    Aug 27, 1999
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    Ok, Zuko. :)
  16. Dallas Rocket

    Dallas Rocket Contributing Member

    Jun 17, 2001
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    To me this was our most impressive and important win this year.

    Why? We were playing the hottest team in the NBA and couldn't buy a basket pretty much all game. Our guards & TMac were 0 for Tuesday until late in the game. Despite that, with effort, energy, taking care of the ball, defense, and rebounding we found a way to win.

    That's what really good teams do.

    D R
  17. OddsOn

    OddsOn Contributing Member

    Aug 12, 2003
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    My guess would be eating some fine peking crow...lol
  18. Aruba77

    Aruba77 Contributing Member

    Jul 7, 1999
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    Okay, but why couldn't he have stayed in shape again? He might actually be better. What does he make this year? Is it like 5 Million dollars?

    He better play like he has fire under his ass, and work off those pounds too. It's pathetic that guys think they can show up to games looking like that.

    I am not going to celebrate some overweight, overpaid, roll-player's inspired attempt to play decent basketball. I am, however, happy that he didn't suck.
  19. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

    Feb 14, 1999
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    I'm over here. :) (Actually, I didn't want him gone immediately-- I think it's a very bad idea to can a coach in the middle of the season -- but I was for getting a new coach in the offseason. I still don't like him much even though he's doing a good job, but I've softened my stance a little; not because of the winning but because he has finally increased the tempo to a bearable speed.)
  20. Sishir Chang

    Sishir Chang Contributing Member

    Nov 12, 2000
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    Well I didn't want JVG gone but did say that if the Rox were below .500 at the all star break that might be time to look for a change.

    We certainly weren't and I will gladly eat a BK Tender Crisp Chedder Ranch Crow sandwhich for it. :D

    especially if its served by Brooke Burke

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