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[Chron] Yao saves Rockets from blowing win

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by olliez, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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    Yao saves Rockets from blowing win

    Feb. 7, 2005, 12:44AM


    Big man makes key little plays in final minute
    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE STANDINGS
    Team W L PCT GB
    San Antonio 38 10 .792 ---
    Dallas 31 15 .674 6
    Houston 28 21 .571 10.5
    Memphis 27 21 .563 11
    New Orleans 8 39 .170 29.5

    Yes. This team will improve down the stretch
    No. They are too inconsistent
    It's too early to tell

    The Rockets were just too big — too big to match up when the Lakers went small, with too big a lead to maintain the firecracker intensity that built it.

    Somehow it seemed right then, that for all the Rockets had done, they could not beat the Lakers until the biggest player did the littlest things.

    Yao Ming stepped up in the final minute for consecutive little, difference-making plays, so that after blowing a 16-point lead, the Rockets won by the smallest of margins, edging Los Angeles 103-102 on Sunday at Toyota Center.

    "We did all the wrong things all afternoon," Yao said, "and got the win anyway."

    But the Rockets matched their longest winning streak of the season, four games, and moved seven games better than .500 for the first time all season, when they did just enough right. But after frittering away a 16-point second-half lead, they could not get the win until making the last few plays they had not made when the Lakers mounted a fourth-quarter run.

    Lamar Odom had flown past Juwan Howard, Scott Padgett, Clarence Weatherspoon and, in a brief cameo, Ryan Bowen to put the Lakers in front.

    The Rockets had begun the game forcing turnovers before Odom's mismatch could burn them. They scored easily, even when Tracy McGrady started the game making just one of seven shots (he made eight of 24 overall for 21 points).

    Bob Sura made another run at a triple double, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, mixing in five steals. David Wesley had his best shooting game since he was traded to the Rockets, making seven of 11 shots for 19 points.

    The Lakers rolled to a 30-point third quarter, but it did not seem too great an issue while the Rockets expanded their lead to 84-69. But when the Lakers went to Odom on the first two plays of the fourth quarter, the game changed.

    "That quickness at the four spot, he's just putting his head down and he's a heck of a player," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "People don't realize how good he is. We're slow, and when we're not at maximum intensity level or energy level, we're going to have a hard time. That being said, even if we're at our best, Lamar Odom is a hard guy to guard."

    Lakers lead by 3
    Odom (22 points) got the Lakers rolling, and when Chucky Atkins sank a 3-pointer with 1:54 left, he gave the Lakers their first lead since they scored the first basket of the game. Atkins hit two free throws to put Los Angeles in front 102-99 with 1:23 left.

    The Lakers were making 65 percent of their fourth-quarter shots, while Odom had 14 points in the quarter. When Juwan Howard missed on a drive, the Lakers seemed ready to put away the game.

    But with the game on the line, Yao made game-saving plays. With the Lakers leading by one with 47.9 seconds left, he swatted away a Jumaine Jones drive. Sura cut the lead to one with a pair of free throws.

    The Lakers went back to Odom, and again, Yao switched defensively, forcing Odom to push a shot through him that missed. Yao grabbed the rebound. Still trailing by one, the Rockets passed on taking a timeout to quickly go to Yao. Brian Cook fouled him coming across the lane, and with two simple free throws, Yao put the Rockets back in front with 15.2 seconds left.

    "I knew I could make it because I missed too many before (in late-game situations)," Yao said.

    "We didn't want to take a timeout because they had Cook in for offense," Van Gundy said. "We wanted to make sure they had to keep the same matchup defensively. Yao did a good job. He should have been at the line the whole night. That's a whole different story, one which could fill up many a notebook."

    Van Gundy stopped there, but he might have filled a few encyclopedias had the Rockets not held on for the win.

    But for the final possession, Van Gundy switched McGrady to Odom, negating Odom's quickness advantage. Instead, Odom began backing McGrady down. Yao moved toward Odom, forcing Odom to pass to Cook at the top of the circle.

    Cook, a 40.7 percent 3-point shooter, launched his shot for the win with 2.9 seconds left. The Lakers' last chance rattled around before coming out.

    No fun for McGady
    "I hate games like that," McGrady said. "For the most part, we played well, then in the fourth quarter, it was the Lamar Odom show. We had them down 16 in the fourth quarter and those guys took the lead. It was a big win for us, but I don't like these type of games."

    But even if McGrady could not bring himself to celebrate the little things, the Rockets would not have had that "big win" without them.

    jonathan.feigen@chron.com
    Rockets Summary

    Good company

    The list holds some impressive names. Kevin Garnett. Kobe Bryant. Tracy McGrady. LeBron James. Jason Kidd. Chris Webber. Steve Francis. Larry Hughes. Dwyane Wade.

    After Friday's game, Bob Sura became the 10th NBA player to average double-figure scoring with at least five rebounds and five assists, making the Rockets the only team with two players on that list.

    "That's pretty good company," Sura said. "Any time you're one of only 10 guys to do anything it's a good thing, but I didn't realize we're the only teammates. I've always made a lot of plays.

    "It's why my college coach recruited me. He said, `I don't know how good the kid is. The competition level he plays isn't good. But he's involved in every play -- a rebound, a pass, a score.' I used to play better defense. A little bit of everything, that's what I've always done."

    He had one of those games Sunday, with 19 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and five steals.

    Coaching turmoil

    While the Lakers look for a successor to Rudy Tomjanovich and interim coach Frank Hamblen, with much of the attention focused on Tomjanovich's predecessor Phil Jackson, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said the uncertainty and speculation cannot help.

    "They should give Frank every opportunity to succeed this year," Van Gundy said. "He's a heck of a coach, and he deserves every opportunity.

    "(Lamar) Odom and (Chucky) Atkins, (Caron) Butler and (Chris) Mihm is a very good core. When (Kobe) Bryant comes back, obviously they are at a different level."

    Still on the road

    The Rockets' victory gave them a four-game winning streak, matching their longest of the season. Though it was taken at Toyota Center, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said it could also be considered their fourth consecutive road win.

    "That's the best win of a road trip," he said. "The most important game of the road trip is your first game home."

    That is because it comes so quickly, in this case just 36 hours after the previous game ended, there is barely time to unpack, never mind practice.

    The Rockets did not land in Houston until 4 a.m. Saturday.

    Press row view

    For all the dated suggestions the Rockets need a big body next to Yao Ming, Lamar Odom showed they don't. Juwan Howard's improved play lately has demonstrated that quickness to the offensive boards and a shooting touch can be rewarded when playing next to Yao and with Tracy McGrady. But the next time the Rockets make a change to their collection at the position, it can only be for someone with quickness to defend the small forwards now playing four.

    Inside the numbers

    The Rockets led for 46 minutes and four seconds. ... The win snapped the Lakers' four-game winning streak against the Rockets. ... The Lakers' 30 third-quarter points matched the most against the Rockets this season. ... The Lakers outscored the Rockets 108-72 in the first half of their first two games this season. The Rockets outscored the Lakers 50-39 in the first half Sunday. ... Tracy McGrady made one of nine 3-pointers. The rest of the Rockets made nine of 17.

    Did you know

    The Rockets have scored at least 100 points in three consecutive games for the first time this season.

    JONATHAN FEIGEN

    [​IMG]
     
  2. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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  3. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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  4. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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  5. Chilly_Pete

    Chilly_Pete Contributing Member

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    That's a good point.
     
  6. Ghettostar85

    Ghettostar85 Member

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    hm why do both team have away jerseys? shouldn't the lakers have their white or yellow jerseys?
     
  7. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    THEN WHY NOT PLAY A FRICKEN ZONE DEFENSE TO STOP ODOM'S ISOLATION ???

    OH, I know...because JVG doesn't like the zone.

    Sure....let them come back and almost beat us...ala Sacremento...

    This team could be so much more with an innovative coach.

    DD
     
  8. Zac D

    Zac D Contributing Member

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    Jimmy Boeheim? :)
     
  9. Mr Boo

    Mr Boo Contributing Member

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    Here's my favorite snippet from the article:
     
  10. dragonsnake

    dragonsnake Contributing Member

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    Lakers are hot on 3 pointer at the time, zone will open up for their shooters.
     
  11. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!
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    Depends on the zone....

    It was not all the 3pters that were getting them back in the game, it was all of Odom's layups.

    DD
     
  12. hotballa

    hotballa Contributing Member

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    I'm really digging the unis.
     
  13. tiger0330

    tiger0330 Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]

    Yao has mad hops, looks like his vertical is as high as TMacs in this pic.
     
  14. room4rentsf

    room4rentsf Contributing Member

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    Yao played a solid game and really came through in the
    C-L-U-T-C-H

    Tmac struggled with his shot but did other things to help our team win such as play defense, rebound and move the ball around.

    J
     
  15. fa7999

    fa7999 Member

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    Tmac got a whopping 2 boards against LAL and let JJ got 12. To put it this way: he played his worst game as a Rockets and we still were able to get a win in the end.
     
  16. olliez

    olliez Contributing Member

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    I doubt Yao's vertical will improve very much even 5 years down the track.

    The guy has really thick calves & huge thighs, while that keeps him stable on the ground, it's difficult to elevate his body.

    OZ
     
  17. gucci888

    gucci888 Contributing Member

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    Not to mention he is 310lbs.
     

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