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Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by ricerocket, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. ricerocket

    ricerocket Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Jan. 27, 2004, 12:34AM

    Heat rip Rockets' defense
    Odom, Jones lead way to easy victory
    Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle


    vs. Sacramento, 6:30 p.m.

    Team W L PCT GB
    Minnesota 31 12 .721 ---
    Dallas 28 16 .636 3.5
    San Antonio 29 17 .630 3.5
    Houston 26 18 .591 5.5
    Memphis 25 18 .581 6
    Denver 26 21 .553 7
    Utah 22 22 .500 9.5
    As of Jan 26 2004 10:36 p.m. CT Schedule:
    • Rockets schedule

    • ROCKETS: Complete coverage

    MIAMI -- This is what big brothers do. They measure you and test and see what the little brother really is.
    The kid might grow bigger or faster or in some way better, but he remains the little brother.

    As a strategy, of course, it might have had nothing to do with a sibling challenge, but Stan Van Gundy's Heat went at the heart of Jeff Van Gundy's Rockets by attacking the Rockets' strength.

    Facing the league's stickiest and stingiest defensive team, one of the league's worst offensive teams whipped the Rockets, then did it again and again ... .

    They blew past the Rockets easily on Monday night, winning 95-81 at American Airlines Arena in a performance Stan Van Gundy called his team's best this season.

    "It was our defense," Jeff Van Gundy said, spitting out the words of what had been the pride of the Rockets' game recently but the cause of the loss in Miami. "They ripped us. It's our greatest strength, and they ripped us."

    After spending months setting impressive defensive records, compiling statistics better than any team has maintained for a season, the Rockets could not defend the Heat.

    The Rockets' game plans and philosophies were wasted by an inability to do the most basic part of defense -- guard the guy with the ball.

    "Our strength was our weakness," Maurice Taylor said. "We didn't guard anybody. We let them attack us before we woke up and tried to play the way we usually play. We usually attack first and make teams adjust to us. It was the other way around."

    The Heat made 36 of 70 shots (51.4 percent) and 11 of 23 3-pointers.

    Only the Kings -- who, oh by the way, will be waiting for the Rockets on Wednesday at Toyota Center -- shot better this season than did the Heat on Monday. But improved though they may be, the Heat are not the prolific Kings.

    Only one team scores fewer points than the Heat. No team has shot worse this season. Even in their recent turnaround, the Heat have kept opponents' scores low, rather than blowing out anybody with second-half offensive blitzes.

    But the Rockets were beaten so badly so often off the dribble, the Heat shot as if warming up.

    Lamar Odom, a slick 6-10 forward who can play any position but seems to have finally found the right one, was too slippery for Kelvin Cato, a converted center.

    Odom caused the same problems for Taylor. And for that matter, every Heat ballhandler seemed to penetrate at will, forcing the Rockets to leave open shooters.

    "Nothing about our defense changed (in the second half)," Jeff Van Gundy said. "They shredded us pretty good. They did a great job offensively. They moved it and drove us. Again, I have to do a better job giving a plan against small teams. But we've got to guard the ball better too.

    "It wasn't just Lamar. They all took their turns beating us off the dribble. They did a great job using the shot fake. We were flying by them. They did a great job, yet, I think we could have done a much better job defensively."

    With penetration inside and passes to the perimeter, the Heat picked the Rockets apart.

    Odom had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. Eddie Jones, making four of five treys, led the Heat with 27 points. Rafer Alston, playing as a point guard the Heat so clearly lacked early in the season, had eight points while helping to hold Steve Francis to his second-consecutive game scoring in single digits.

    "You can't let people get to the middle," Cato said. "Regardless of who it is, regardless of what position they play, we don't let the ball come into the middle. That's our No. 1 defensive rule. Today we didn't do a good job stopping their players from driving. We jumped for pump-fakes. We fell for everything today."

    Though the Rockets had rallied past the Heat -- and their own panic and petulance about a physical first half and the calls they felt they did not get, to take a 3-point halftime lead, they crumbled in the third quarter.

    In one third-quarter stretch, Taylor was called for goaltending on a shot off the backboard after the whistle had sounded, Cato was faked into the crowd by a Brian Grant pump and Francis flung an alley-oop pass that would be too unlikely for a dunk contest.

    While the Heat rolled to a 29-point quarter and eventually to an 18-point lead, the Rockets could not begin to keep pace. Miami sent its usual defensive ambush to Yao Ming, effectively removing him from the game a day after his 37-point performance in Orlando.

    "They're continually bothering our passers and bothering us in the lanes," Yao said. "They were causing us to be hesitant, and once you hesitate ... the opportunity is gone. We held the ball for too long. We missed a lot of opportunities. They continually put pressure on us."

    The defensive attention on Yao, however, left Rockets shooters wide open all over the gym.

    But after making his first shot, Jim Jackson missed his next 11, making just one of nine treys. Francis made just two of nine shots to score just nine points a night after scoring seven. Cuttino Mobley made just four of 13 attempts.

    "I'm not taking anything away from them, but we had some really good shots that we missed," Francis said. "Normally, our defense is our centerpiece and our backbone. Tonight, our defensive intensity was not there."


    Rockets summary

    Matter of style

    Monday's rematch of the brothers Van Gundy brought the Rockets' Jeff some of the same discomfort with coaching against the Heat's Stan. But when asked how Stan was doing measuring up to Pat Riley's sartorial legacy on the Heat bench, Jeff Van Gundy did launch into a variation of the routine he used when he was compared to Riley.

    "That's one thing I've never done, because when you look (bad) you don't take a view of how others measure up," Van Gundy said. "You can't be judgmental when you look so bad.

    "Just because you spend money doesn't mean you're going to look good. Pat could look good in stuff he bought from Kmart. I could look bad in stuff I bought from a top-shelf designer. If you're an ugly guy, you're an ugly guy. You just deal with it."

    That out of the way, the Rockets' coach said the differences between his older brother and NBA mentor were more about style.

    "They have a very shared vision of how to win in this league," Van Gundy said. "You're following the best coach in team sport history, so I've admired how well he's done. He's done a great job. But it's big shoes to fill. It's coach Riley.

    "No one's ever coached a team sport better, for longer, with more different teams than coach Riley."

    Invite for Yao

    Rockets center Yao Ming will be named today to participate with the sophomore team in the NBA's Rookie Challenge. And this season, he will be expected to play in the game whether he is an All-Star or not.

    Last season, Yao attended the game but did not play because he made the All-Star team. This season, the Rookie Challenge will be held on Friday of the All-Star weekend, allowing Yao and potentially this season's rookies LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to play in both games.

    Press row view

    The Rockets were convinced they were getting fouled, sometimes hard, sometimes on shots and sometimes without calls. This inspired them to stomp their feet and yell a lot. At one timeout, Steve Francis whipped the ball to official Tom Washington, avoiding a technical foul when Mike Wilks jumped off the bench to intercept the pass. The Rockets did not, however, play harder or tougher or smarter. They lost their poise and did not solve their failings. that They stumbled into a three-point halftime lead, but they wasted chances they needed later.

    Inside the numbers

    After blocking 12 shots in their first game against the Heat, the Rockets blocked just one on Monday. ... The Rockets made just 10 of 36 shots (1 of 9 on 3-pointers) in the second half. ... Clarence Weatherspoon had his first field goal with the Rockets.

    Did you know?

    Rockets guard Steve Francis hit the rim on two long heaves at the ends of quarters, and Miami forward Caron Butler swished a shot from 70 feet that was ruled to have been attempted just after the third-quarter buzzer.


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    Did J "Pete Rose" VG let his brother win? ;)
  2. lost_elephant

    lost_elephant Contributing Member

    Mar 7, 2003
    Likes Received:

    you know hes going to do it.
  3. ivanyy2000

    ivanyy2000 Contributing Member

    Oct 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    No!!!!!!! Why Yao has to play Rookie Chanllenge game if he make the all-star team??? Nobody did that before!!!

    This is crazy, he has to play 2 games when other players have a whole weekend rest. It is bad for his health, he need rest and play for Rox !!!
  4. jiggadi

    jiggadi Contributing Member

    Aug 10, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Let him play. He's freaking 20 whatever. He can handle it. He needs to represent the Rox like he does his national team. With pride...

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