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[Houston Chron] Injured Yao is hard to replace

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by WinknCatForever, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. WinknCatForever

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    Injured Yao is hard to replace

    Rockets struggle in loss to Hornets without star center.


    By MEGAN MANFULL
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    Yao Ming left Toyota Center quietly after watching from the locker room as the Rockets lost to New Orleans Friday night.

    A deep bruise in his right calf kept him sidelined and he refused media requests to talk about it. When asked if he would play Sunday against the Phoenix Suns, Yao said, "I don't know."

    That's not exactly what his teammates wanted to hear, especially after missing their 7-6 center sorely in the 76-73 loss to New Orleans.

    "Tonight, certainly our paint points were probably very low," Jon Barry said. "We got nothing to the basket. We became a jump shooting team, which we're not. We like to be a team that goes inside and then out, but we really had no post game to speak of. We just continue to struggle with our offense. Defensively we were pretty good for most of the game. But Yao's presence is obviously something that we missed."

    Dikembe Mutombo started in place of Yao and tied his season-high with 15 rebounds, but only took two shots and scored two points. Clarence Weatherspoon started at power forward, but also tried to fill in some of the void, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. It was Weatherspoon's second double-double with the Rockets.

    Andersen steps up
    Yao's absence was too large to overcome though. The Hornets controlled the paint, out-rebounding the Rockets 55-43. Reserve center Chris Andersen finished with 16 rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. After the game, Andersen didn't even try to take credit for his strong outing.

    "That was only because Yao wasn't out there," Andersen said.

    The Rockets are still unsure if Yao will rejoin the team Sunday. The injury occurred against Phoenix three weeks ago. He continued playing, but the pain never really improved. By Friday afternoon, the Rockets decided to have an MRI done.

    Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said the results caused the Rockets to sit Yao. Rockets trainer Keith Jones, however, downplayed the seriousness and said, "The tests revealed there was nothing there."

    Van Gundy told Mutombo an hour before Friday's game that he would start. Mutombo said he expects Yao to be back in the starting lineup Sunday.

    "I think his leg has been bothering him and they just wanted to give him another 48 hours of rest," Mutombo said.

    Rebounders needed
    With Yao sitting along with injured Juwan Howard, the Rockets were without two of their best rebounders. Yao leads the team, averaging 8.2 boards a game. Howard was averaging 5.7 before spraining his right knee more than two weeks ago.

    Weatherspoon has emerged as a strong presence down low since Howard's injury. He has started 10 consecutive games and is playing with the most confidence he has had since joining the Rockets mid-season last year.

    "A lot of stuff goes through Yao and we look to him for low-post scoring," Weatherspoon said. "Anytime you lose a key component to your team, it's going to be a challenge. Everyone has to shift to different roles.

    "I'm just out there playing. I'm not worrying about too much. I'm just out there trying to play the best I can."

    This was only the second time Yao has missed a game in his entire career, and his teammates are hopeful he won't miss another.

    "Yao is one of the best centers in the NBA," said Mike James. "He's a threat in the post. So without him there, it just changes our style of play."





    --
     
  2. WinknCatForever

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  3. Andy3000

    Andy3000 Member

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  4. WinknCatForever

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    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/bk/bkn/3114205

    Rockets play down to Hornets

    Frustrated Sura calls 76-73 loss to New Orleans 'embarrassing'


    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle


    The trap was not set by the standings. There might have been some of that, with the New Orleans Hornets at the bottom of the Southwest Division with all of 16 wins.

    But the Rockets handled that sufficiently to lead by as many as 18 points on a night they and the Hornets laid enough bricks that the Chinese dignitaries at Toyota Center might have assumed the teams were building their own Great Wall.

    The Rockets were suckered by a more devious, more surreptitious trap.

    The Hornets were for most of three quarters so awful, the Rockets fell for it. The Hornets didn't seem capable of making a comeback. They didn't seem capable of making a shot. Then the Hornets began a roll the Rockets did not see coming and could not stop, taking a 76-73 win that made them the fourth last-place team to beat the Rockets this season.

    "No question about it, we relaxed and jerked around at the end of the third quarter and let them get back in the game, gave them some belief," Rockets guard Sura said. "You never want to take anybody lightly before the game or through the course of the game.

    "We've completed the dubious distinction of losing twice to Charlotte, once to Atlanta and once to New Orleans. It's embarrassing."

    Mix in losses to Utah and Toronto, and the Rockets have done more than their share for lottery-locked teams, losses that had radically altered their own standing even before the Kings routed the Cavaliers to retake fifth in the West and drop the Rockets to sixth.

    "Those games cost you," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I don't know if it will cost us dearly, but those games cost you. We've already had some of those. We don't learn and we keep trying to do it the same way in these types of games and we will pay a price. Whether that game cost us a playoff spot, whether that game cost us playoff positioning, I don't know."

    Yao's accuracy missed
    With their most accurate shooter, center Yao Ming, out with a deep bruise in his right calf, the Rockets made just 30.8 percent of their shots, reaching 24 field goals — one more than the fewest in franchise history — only when they made a pair of last-minute 3s.

    Still, the Rockets took their one sustained run to their largest lead, 56-38, with three minutes left in the third quarter.

    That was more than enough for the Hornets to seem safely tucked away. By then, the Hornets had 11 field goals with 15 minutes left, leaving them seven shy of the fewest ever in a NBA game, 18.

    But New Orleans, which had been 1-46 when trailing after three quarters, ended the third quarter with a 10-0 run, cutting the lead to eight. The Hornets ran off 11 straight points in the fourth quarter to take their first lead since scoring the first point of the game.

    "We just got complacent," Rockets guard David Wesley said. "We had an 18-point lead and let them get on a 10-0 run to end the third quarter. We allowed them to get their heads up, start playing with a little bit of confidence. Then we couldn't do much to stop them."

    Shots hard to come by
    The Rockets, meanwhile, could not find shots they could make. Mike James interrupted the Hornets' run with a drive to a layup and a steal that he took to another layup and a 64-61 Rockets lead with 6:27 left.

    But they did not make another shot for 5 1/2 minutes. They missed their next eight attempts, falling behind by nine, 74-65, with 1:11 left, the last two New Orleans points coming when the Rockets fouled PJ Brown after they could not grab a missed Hornets free throw.

    McGrady made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to seven before Wesley nailed a 3-pointer, his only field goal in nine attempts.

    The Rockets fouled Dan Dickau and he made both free throws for a six-point New Orleans lead with 45.9 seconds left. But after Jon Barry missed a 3, Wesley chased down the rebound and passed to Barry for a 3-pointer that reduced the lead to three, 76-73, with 31.1 seconds left.

    Last chance fizzles
    The Rockets then had a last chance after Casey Jacobsen missed a 3 with 8.9 seconds left. They put the ball in Tracy McGrady's hands, but he was forced to give it up and Barry's fadeaway 3 at the buzzer fell short in a fitting finish to one of the Rockets' worst offensive performances of the season.

    "I don't know what it was," McGrady, who led the Rockets with 21 points but made just five of 20 shots, said. "Was it was a case of us being too comfortable with an 18-point lead? Did we think we already had the game won? Did we think that team would give in? I don't know. We lost. We lost and it was a bad loss, a disappointing loss.

    "What we're trying to do and where we're trying to go, if we're going to lose like this, we will be going home early."

    jonathan.feigen@chron.com
    Rockets Summary
    Ha puts hurt on Yao
    For most of Portland rookie Ha Seung-Jin's 15 minutes spent crashing into bodies Wednesday against the Rockets, it seemed a matter of time before someone got hurt. It could be a stretch to say Yao Ming was injured when Ha plowed into him in the fourth quarter. Yao has had a sore calf since March 11.

    But Ha's clumsiness might have aggravated the injury, leading to Yao sitting out Friday's game against the Hornets.

    Yao, averaging 18.2 points and 8.2 rebounds, has missed only one other game in his three-year career. He sat out Dec. 31 against Milwaukee because of the flu.

    Dikembe Mutombo took Yao's place in the lineup.

    The Rockets, however, said the Trail Blazers could not be blamed for checking out Ha, even if he might have been a danger to the other nine players.

    "I didn't see that was his intent, certainly, or anything like that," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "When you're young and you're as big as that kid is and have played as little as he has, he's trying to figure out how to move within the confines of the court."

    Rockets guard Jon Barry said the Trail Blazers have reached the point in their season that it is understandable if they experiment.

    "They got a 7-3 guy. They have to see to know what they've got," Barry said. "It's the perfect time to find out. ... You're never going to find out in drills or practice."

    At long last
    David Wesley had not hit a 3-pointer since he was traded by New Orleans. Or so it seemed.

    Needing one 3-pointer to hit the 1,000 milestone for his career, Wesley missed all seven of attempts in the three games after the Rockets game in New Orleans last week.

    "Has it only been three games," Wesley said. "It feels like a lot more.

    "I want to hit one just to get it off my mind. The Utah game I only shot one 3, so I'm not trying for it. I'm not pressing. But there were two games I got a lot of open looks."

    But finally, the milestone was his.

    Wesley only hit one of nine shots against the Hornets on Friday, but it was a 3-pointer on his final fourth-quarter attempt, giving the former Baylor standout an even 1,000.

    A passing slump
    While the Rockets had not shot straight often in recent weeks, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy has said they have been caught in a passing, rather than shooting, slump.

    "We're in a deep, deep passing slump," Van Gundy said during the Rockets road trip. "I don't like how we're passing the ball, how often we're passing it, how on target we're passing it, how on time we're passing it. We're just doing a poor, poor job passing the ball."

    Press row view
    Maybe the Rockets should not want home-court advantage in the playoffs. It does not seem to help in the regular season. The Rockets this season have 22 wins on the road, 22 at home and generally are a better team away from Toyota Center, a trend that is clearly a problem. Toyota Center crowds might not shake rafters or rattle knees. Games seem to be about everything but basketball. But it is up to the Rockets to find a way to play their game and play it well even in their plush palace, or see if the church might give them back Compaq Center.

    Inside the numbers
    • 28 — Hornets points in the first half.
    • 28 — Hornets points in the fourth quarter.
    • 22 — New Orleans field goals, the fewest against the Rockets this season.
    • 11 — Hornets points in the first quarter, the fewest against the Rockets this season.
    • 0 — Hornets starters to score eight points, a NBA first this season.
    Did you know?

    The Rockets lost for the first time in 15 games this season when holding a team to fewer than 80 points.

    -- JONATHAN FEIGEN
     
  5. lost_elephant

    lost_elephant Contributing Member

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    "Clarence Weatherspoon started at power forward, but also tried to fill in some of the void, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. It was Weatherspoon's second double-double with the Rockets."
     
    #5 lost_elephant, Apr 2, 2005
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2005
  6. wizardball

    wizardball Member

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    i hope he gets a good week off so he can be nicely rested in the playoffs.... i am suprized that many people don' t bring up the fact that the guy plays YEAR round... Tony Parker played ONCE in the offseason for France... and the guy had a horrible following year... and he said it is really hard to do.... and he's having a great year ... most NBA players compain about it..... i don't think conditioning is the problem with Yao.... the guy is just exhausted from playing basketball.... if i had a choice i would have had him sit out for atleast 2-3 weeks during training camp and preseason... that way he gets his rest....
     
  7. wizardball

    wizardball Member

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    Mr. Lost.



    14 POINTS is NOT Clarence Weatherspoon's career high. :rolleyes: ...season high...YES,,,career high NO!:p
     
  8. lost_elephant

    lost_elephant Contributing Member

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    i understand this. i wanted to point this out to Ms. Megan Manfull.
     
  9. choujie

    choujie Member

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    So Yao was actually injured against Suns? No wonder he's not been very effective for a few games.
     
  10. hotballa

    hotballa Contributing Member

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    oh..I didnt know he was actually physically injured after that Phoenix game
     
  11. Houstonrocketss

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    Sura tonight was more worried about his hottie in the front row in section 118 than the game.
    The whole game he was winking at her....This team tonight thought this loss was funny
    I for one found it pathetic.
     
  12. tituspan

    tituspan Contributing Member

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    That probably explains why he's not playing well except the first quarter of recent games.
     
  13. wireonfire

    wireonfire Contributing Member

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  14. Tigerknee

    Tigerknee Contributing Member

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  15. rvpals

    rvpals Member

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  16. rvpals

    rvpals Member

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    Yao is a lot more important than people willing to give him credit for.

    Although we could have beat the Hornets without him. The whole team just feel totally different without Yao's presence. I think we took him for granted because he rarely missed any games.
     
  17. bfunw

    bfunw Contributing Member

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    I bring up this fact on the other thread when people complain Yao's recent games AFTER Suns game and BEFORE Blasers game.

    Nobody brings up possible injury, although at least one poster, if my memory is right, did mention "Yao looks like ..." (the word meaning kind of pain/hurt/...) Of course the poster was attacked immediately as if he committed some crime.

    It's amazing that some people would like to spend so much time to "analyze/stats" Yao's every move/play by reviewing tapes again and again, but never question WHY he seems "LEGLESS" at this time of the season.
     
  18. zhao1109

    zhao1109 Contributing Member

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    speechless. w/o yao or tmac, they still should win this game, damn excuse!!!!!!!!!!! ROX stilldoesn't have heart of elite team. what hell TMAC didnot attempt a single shot in last five min. team should setup for him and look for DEKE a little bit more.
     
  19. yandong8

    yandong8 Member

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  20. bfunw

    bfunw Contributing Member

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    Simply because at that time our PG Sura faints...
     

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