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Rockets unfazed by trade rumors (Houston Chronicle )

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by vtkp99, Feb 18, 2004.

  1. vtkp99

    vtkp99 Contributing Member

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    Feb. 18, 2004, 1:04AM


    Rockets unfazed by trade rumors
    Opinions vary on coach's reassurance
    By MEGAN MANFULL
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

    Kelvin Cato's mind isn't bogged down with concerns about being traded, but it's also not something he is ruling out.

    Coach Jeff Van Gundy said Monday he expects the Rockets' roster to remain the same through Thursday's 2 p.m. trade deadline. The announcement seemed to relax a few of the Rockets; others said they will wait and see.

    "That don't mean nothing," said Cato, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday's 107-81 victory over the Washington Wizards. "That's his opinion. If the right trade comes along, I think he might still take it. This is a league where ain't nobody safe nowhere. You just have to keep playing basketball and not worry about it.

    "I'm glad he thinks this is the team that's going to be out there. But if the right trade come along, I think he still might pull that trigger."

    Being traded became a concern for a number of players after popular reserve Moochie Norris was sent to the New York Knicks on Dec. 30 for Clarence Weatherspoon. At the time, Yao Ming was worried he might be next, and Steve Francis said he was going to move into a hotel so as not to get comfortable here.

    Francis was only joking about moving into a hotel, but he has spent much of the past two weeks at the forefront of trade rumors since he missed the team flight to Phoenix on Feb. 1. Van Gundy tried to put an end to all the speculation, which pleased some of the players.

    "I think it will allow everybody to relax a little bit," Yao said.

    Van Gundy doesn't want anyone to get too relaxed, though. He has battled with the team all season about bringing energy into the games. He wants to see the Rockets play with a sense of urgency night in and night out.

    "I don't think calming is what our team needs," Van Gundy said. "We're very calm by nature. We need to be urgent. We need to be desperate to win. We don't need to be calm. We need to be poised. We don't need to be calm."

    Forward Maurice Taylor said the team needs to be more worried about winning than the trade deadline. After four consecutive lottery years, Taylor said trade rumors haven't even been an issue among the players. The team has problems, he said, but that's not one of them.

    "I don't think guys sit in the locker room worrying about if they are going to get traded or not because that's out of their control," Taylor said. "I think we sort of feel the same way as we did from day one. We've got a good team, and we want to win ballgames. I mean, we're not sitting around in huddles worrying about trade rumors or who's going to go. That's the least of our problems."

    The players agree the roster has everything the Rockets need to reach the playoffs. Right now, they remain in the playoff picture. But they will have to continue to prove they belong there with 29 games left on the schedule. If they fail, trade talks will only heat up after the season.

    "This is one of the best teams I've played on since I've been here," Cato said. "Everybody is playing unbelievable right now. We have lapses sometimes in certain aspects. But we're a good team. We just have to see if we can maintain this for (29) more games and try to make a serious playoff run."
     
  2. vtkp99

    vtkp99 Contributing Member

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    Feb. 18, 2004, 1:21AM


    Everything comes easy to Rockets
    Wizards humbled 107-81
    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Boxscore

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Rockets promised an All-Star Game, and there it was.
    No need to wait for 2006 or whenever the NBA gets around to sending the circus to town. With Steve Francis and Yao Ming back from Los Angeles, the Wizards presented them and the rest of the Rockets with the All-Star treatment.

    No defense. Dunks all around.

    The Rockets simply shared the ball as All-Stars do, then rolled to an easy 107-81 win Tuesday night before just 11,416 at Toyota Center.

    "I think," Yao Ming said of facing another All-Star Game defense, "everybody wanted to have that feeling."

    With that in mind, the Rockets moved the ball so well they had 34 assists, seven more than their previous season high -- the 27 they had when they played the Wizards last month.

    The Rockets cleared the bench for nearly all of the last nine minutes -- having made nearly 60 percent of their field-goal attempts when the starters sat with a 30-point lead -- and they still made 54.3 percent of their shots.

    "Coach gave us advice in practice," Francis said. "He wanted us to really focus on these (last) 30 games, think about every game like a one-game playoff series. That's what we have to do. We were all very hungry, very eager to come back after the All-Star break."

    The going-nowhere Wizards came back with so little interest in the evening that traffic cones would have provided a greater defensive challenge. But then, bad breath might have provided more of a challenge.

    With the next layup or wide-open jumper usually just a pass away, the Rockets moved the ball more consistently than they have most of the season. Though they coasted to the finish and fumbled through the opening minutes, they still led by as many as 34 points.

    The Rockets had everything working, from the fine perimeter shooting touch of Kelvin Cato to the passing artistry of Clarence Weatherspoon. Jim Jackson led the Rockets with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. But the rest of the frontcourt rotation of Cato, Weatherspoon, Yao and Maurice Taylor usually lived around the rim, combining to make 22 of 36 shots.

    "That's the way we've got to play," Taylor said. "I think we learned from our mistakes. When the ball stops, we don't play well. When the ball moves, we play well. I think it shows we've become a better team, because we're not making the same mistakes over and over again like we were in the beginning of the season.

    "When we pass well, we usually shoot well. We moved the ball around a lot, and it was touching a lot of peoples' hands. We just made it easy for ourselves."

    The Rockets did have their customary 18 turnovers. But six were in the first six minutes of the game. Once they settled down, they scored easily while holding the Wizards to 35.6 percent shooting until the benches were cleared.

    "We did some good things," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Very few nights in this league is it easy. For whatever reason, it wasn't as difficult as most nights. We did some good things, and we've played a lot better even in some losses. So we don't want to get carried away with this score."

    Van Gundy offered two other "we did some good things." But he also seemed as subdued as most in the Toyota Center crowd who left early.

    "A good start? Yeah," Van Gundy said. "Now if we could only just ... never mind. I won't go there. We've just got to play well, hopefully get better and respond to this next challenge that's coming up, which is Dallas (on Saturday), who've had their way with us."

    If Van Gundy seemed less than thrilled, that might be because of the Rockets' start. They made four of their first five shots but, with six turnovers in less than six minutes, managed to trail.

    "I think it's a warning to us," Yao said. "At the beginning of the game, we had a lot of mistakes -- at least I did. If we're against a tougher team, we can't afford to have those kinds of mistakes."

    But facing so little resistance, the Rockets could not help but put up their most prolific half of the season, leading 57-37.

    With the Wizards' big men waving as the Rockets went by, the Rockets spent the first half passing and dunking. If there were outside shots taken, they were wide-open. But usually, the Rockets found driving and cutting to the basket too easy to do much of anything else.

    The Rockets made 62.9 percent of their shots in the first half. When Washington pressed, the Rockets got a layup. When the Wizards challenged Weatherspoon on the dribble, the Rockets got a layup. When the Wizards double-teamed, the Rockets got layups. The Wizards did not try zones, no doubt because they were afraid they might surrender layups.

    The Wizards became so porous that Yao brought back the primary All-Star Game offense, catching an alley-oop pass from Weatherspoon, then later drove through the Wizards, ducking under Brendan Haywood on the way.

    But the most dominant offensive moment for the Rockets -- or the most feeble for the Wizards' defense -- had to be the last play of the first quarter. Francis pantomimed an alley-oop pass, then drove by Gilbert Arenas to toss the pass he showed the Wizards he had planned. Cato slammed the pass home for a 30-18 lead.

    Turn up the volume, bring in some backup singers, and invite every celebrity who ever yearned to be on camera, and the Rockets might have had a night worthy of the All-Star silliness.

    Instead, they just eased back from the break and got to count it as a win.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rockets summary
    Audience with Yao
    Texans linebacker Jay Foreman was more than a spectator at Tuesday's game. He more than just celebrated his 28th birthday.

    Foreman's wife, Stephanie, surprised him with a present for the occasion, arranging for Foreman to meet his favorite player, Yao Ming.

    "He loves Yao and what he does and that he's here is awesome," Stephanie said. "So I wanted to get him an introduction to Yao with the help of Steve (Rosebrook, Rockets director of arena operations) and Nelson (Luis, Rockets director of media relations.)"

    Yao gave Foreman a signed pair of shoes and signed Foreman's Rockets uniform. Foreman gave Yao a signed miniature helmet and a Texans shirt.

    "I just found out when we pulled up," Foreman said. "I don't get excited to meet other athletes, but I'm excited to meet Yao. It's a big birthday present."

    Harris' move
    Rockets center Yao Ming said he was encouraged by a report in China that Mavericks assistant coach and former Rockets head coach Del Harris would be taking over the Chinese national team this summer.

    "I think it will be a big help for us," Yao said. "I also think for him it will be a lot of pressure because there will be a lot of attention on him. I think he can help us improve our performance in the Olympics.

    "I can keep a NBA practice schedule in China."

    Asked what he knew about Harris, Yao said: "All his hairs are white. He doesn't have a single dark hair."

    Actually, he knows more than that.

    "One time when we were in Dallas, Don Nelson said (Harris) was the best defensive coach in the league," Yao said. "Del Harris added, `one of.' "

    Rockets management seemed thrilled to entrust Yao to Harris.

    "It's a great opportunity for Yao to learn from another great NBA coach," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He played for Rudy (Tomjanovich.) Now he gets to play for Del."

    Positive outlook
    The notion the Rockets had completed the adjustment period to get used to a new coaching staff, or that there ever was reason to struggle with that, was quickly dismissed.

    "We're not looking for any excuses not to play well," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We think we're going to play well. There's a lot of people maybe waiting for us to stumble. I think we're going to play well."

    That would stretch Van Gundy's streak of consecutive days sounding positive to two.

    "I'm a positive guy by nature," he said.

    When the laughter stopped, he explained.

    "I'm positive about wins and what loses," Van Gundy said. "I'm positive if we do the things we have to do to win, we'll win. If we don't, we'll lose. That's how it is. There's nothing about being optimistic or negative. It's about being realistic about what your team is going to do. I think our team has confidence. But it's born out of the right thing. They know why we win and why we lose. Now we'll just see if we're going to do what it takes to win."

    `Kind soul'
    Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy did not recall any particular sense of relief from Steve Francis when he called Francis to tell him the trade rumors were inaccurate. Van Gundy said he had no particular reason for calling Francis, making it something of a kind gesture.

    "I'm just a kind guy," Van Gundy said. "And I would think he would be the first to acknowledge my kindness. I think in general he just views me as a kind soul."

    -- JONATHAN FEIGEN


    Press row view
    The Rockets are not going to see many defenses as stationary inside as the Wizards'. But the Rockets are attacking the paint with increasing regularity. They had 48 points in the paint Tuesday, with 40 coming on layups or dunks. Even when they shot outside, much of the offense began with penetration. Steve Francis had seven assists, but Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said he triggered much more than that on offense. Mark Jackson had nine assists. Every Rockets player looked to move the ball, usually into the paint. If the Rockets can do that, they just might find a consistent offense to go with the defense.

    Inside the numbers
    The Rockets' 107 points were their second most this season. ... The Rockets are 7-0 when scoring at least 100 points. ... The Rockets' 44 field goals were their most this season, surpassing the 40 they had in their previous game, which was last week against the Lakers. ... The Rockets moved to 5-0 when all five starters score in double figures. ... The Wizards' 23 turnovers were the most against the Rockets this season and led to 38 points. ... Yao Ming blocked four shots, as the Rockets moved to 6-0 when he blocks at least four.

    Did you know?
    The Rockets' best shooting games of the season have been in their past two games. They made 54.8 percent of their shots against the Lakers before connecting on 54.3 percent against the Wizards.

    -- JONATHAN FEIGEN
     
  3. Clutch

    Clutch Administrator
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    Please include links to all articles. The link is more important than the text of the article.
     
  4. nyquil82

    nyquil82 Contributing Member

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    is this a masturbation reference? way to go, yao!
     
  5. Blatz

    Blatz Contributing Member

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    How is that a masturbation reference?
     
  6. nyquil82

    nyquil82 Contributing Member

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    makes your hair turn white if you do it.
     
  7. Blatz

    Blatz Contributing Member

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    :D I've never heard that one before.

    I've heard the "hairy palms" and "blindness" references though.
     
  8. Tonaaayyyy

    Tonaaayyyy Member

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    ok you two thats enough...timeout
     

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