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Yao's shots least of Houston's problems

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by prlen, Dec 4, 2002.

  1. prlen

    prlen Member

    Jun 11, 2002
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    Yao's shots least of Houston's problems
    Wednesday, Dec. 4

    There's a reason Houston never viewed its alleged Getting Yao The Ball problem as a Full Blown Crisis, and that was true even before Yao Ming detonated for 27 points and 18 rebounds against Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

    That's because, sometimes, the Rockets are actually trying to limit Yao's touches.

    The Rockets don't want him taking a mere 5.2 shots per game over a five-game stretch, as just seen before Tuesday's detonation, but they also don't want the offense running through Yao yet.

    So if there's a problem, it's this:

    "We've been trying to bring him along slowly," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said with a gleeful laugh, "but he's not cooperating."

    The Rockets have promised themselves to be conscious of the pressure and expections Yao's carrying, and without forgetting that he hasn't a break from basketball for more than two years. Coach Rudy Tomjanovich was nonetheless all but forced to put Yao in the starting lineup before he wanted to, in his 11th NBA game, after Yao sliced through the Mavericks and same-sized Shawn Bradley for 30 points and 16 rebounds. Tomjanovich, though, feels it's too soon to be calling a Hakeem-like number of plays for Yao on a nightly basis. That's even after what Yao did to other centers in the state, Duncan and Robinson, who combined for just 32 points and 18 boards.

    "Rudy has been putting something new in [the offense] every day for Yao," Dawson said. "But Rudy wants to put players in comfortable positions and set them up to learn as they go. He's going to go out of his way to make sure they have as few setbacks as possible."

    Truth be told, the Rockets are much more concerned with the lack of consistency from their forwards than any Yao issue. Eddie Griffin, Mo Taylor and Kenny Thomas are all averaging less than nine points per game. No one has emerged as the obvious starter. That's a problem.

    Not Yao's shot count. Not this early. Especially not when you consider the calm Yao's showing in the post, passing out of double teams -- yes, he's already drawing doubles -- like a vet. Better yet, Yao never takes a shot he can't make. Something you can't say about lots of folks in today's NBA.

    "I'm not surprised at what he's doing, but I'm surprised how quick he's doing it," Dawson said. "I thought this is what we'd be seeing by the middle of January."

    Mind you, at this rate, who knows how many shots he'll be taking by then.

    Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com

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