Unbelievably on this play involving Golden State’s Baron Davis, Yao is called for a foul. It didn’t matter, though, since the Rockets had an amazing comeback in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime where they closed out their fourth straight win. Yao led all scorers with one of his best games this season, scoring 30 points on 67% shooting and grabbing 16 boards. For more photos from the game, click here
WEDNESDAY, 12/14/05 – I was dreading writing this report tonight when the Rockets were down 11 points to Golden State with 4:40 remaining Thursday night. They had played so well in the first half, and everything had looked so promising at halftime for a pretty big upset on the road against a much improved Warriors team.
But the Rockets made an amazing comeback to tie the score at the end of regulation to put the game into overtime, then pulled off one of their most improbable and amazing wins of the young season Wednesday night, shocking the Golden State Warriors to win in overtime 111-105.
NOW I am VERY motivated to write about the details of this game (funny what a win will do, huh?). There’s only one problem: the game ended close to 12:30am Houston time, and I don’t have enough time to provide a normal report. I wish I could have everyone come over to my place and watch a replay of the game on my Tivo because this game had everything. But here’s a short synopsis of some of the highlights.
Yao played one of his best games of the year, hitting a high percentage (67%: 12-of-18 FGs; 6-of-7 from the free throw line), grabbed 16 rebounds, and had two assists. He was consistent in the first half, scoring 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and dominating by just catching and shooting. He fell apart a bit in the third quarter, turning the ball over and only hitting 1-of-4 shots. But he turned it back on in the fourth quarter, scoring 7 points. Then in overtime he scored 4 points to get them off to a great start. The only downside of his game was 6 turnovers.
Almost every Rocket played well, except for Juwan Howard (0-for-4, zero points, 4 rebounds). Here are some of the other key contributions:
Ryan Bowen was incredible, providing his normal hustle and keeping offensive possessions alive with key rebounds. He also exploded with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, hitting all of his free throws, and grabbing 8 boards. Yao found him on one play where he whipped a pass to him on the baseline, and Bowen scored on a reverse layup. Later on Yao found him down low in great scoring position. Who would have thought that a Yao-to-Bowen combination would be so lethal? Bowen actually had a couple of reverses, showing craftiness down low underneath the basket that no one thought he had. He also had a huge rebound on an airball by T-Mac to keep a possession going late in the fourth quarter. If he produces like this more often, he’s going to get more minutes, defenses won’t be able to ignore him, and the Rockets are going to be hard to beat.
T-Mac started off great, scoring on an acrobatic play to start the game. But he cooled off after that, ‘only’ scoring 23 points on 6-of-18 shooting, and shooting 10-of-16 from the line. To demonstrate T-Mac’s greatness: although he was struggling with his shot all night, he rose up behind the arc behind a pick with 35 seconds remaining to drill a trey to cut the deficit to 96-95. He also had 8 rebounds, 8 assists and two blocks, with a huge one coming at the end of regulation as Jason Richardson was trying to put up a jump shot that could have won it at the end of regulation.
David Wesley had one of his best games as a Rocket, playing 42 minutes – mostly from the point guard position. He scored 19 points and hit an impressive 4-of-8 three-pointers! It looks like Wesley’s shot is finally back. He also had 6 rebounds, 6 assists and drove to the hole to either score or get fouled.
Derek Anderson is getting his stroke back, too. He hit 2-of-4 three pointers and finished with 8 points with zero turnovers.
Last but not least, Luther Head was only 3-of-9 from the field, but he hit the biggest shot of the game: a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining to put the game into overtime! I love this rookie! I was hoping he would get a chance to take that shot. I was watching a piece on NBA TV the other day with Robert Horry telling about how he and Sam Cassell developed their confidence early on in their career to hit big shots because they were given the opportunity to take big shots when they were rookies. Hitting big shots makes you think you can do it again. Maybe now Head can be that next confident Rocket rookie after hitting the biggest shot of his short NBA career. Head also brings speed to the lineup, as seen with a coast-to-coast layup early in the game, and can rebound, too. He finished with 7 rebounds.
So on a night where T-Mac struggled, role players like Bowen, Wesley and Head came through and picked up the slack. Heck, even Dikembe Mutombo scored 5 points and had 3 blocks during a five-minute stretch of the game.
The Warriors are scary when they are hitting their three-pointers. Although they struggled in the first half, they blitzed the Rockets from behind the arc, hitting 15-of-37 while the Rockets were a respectable 8-of-20. I thought this game was going to be a repeat of other crazy games where Houston was burned from three-point land: remember Memphis a couple of Saturdays ago? And remember Boston’s Raef LaFrentz hitting 7 in a row? Both were huge losses.
The Rockets scored the most number of points in a first half all season – 55. They also shot lights out in the first half: 58%. Despite turning the ball over 7 times (Golden State only had 1), the Rockets led 55-47 at halftime, out-rebounding the Warriors 26-14. That rebounding continued in the second half, with the Rockets holding an unbelievable 61-32 margin at the end of OT.
I could go on about this game, but like I said: it had too much, and it’s just too late to rehash it all. The important thing is that the Rockets have won 4 in a row, winning the first 3 games of a 6-game road trip, and are climbing back to a respectable record (8-12). Can they keep it going in Seattle on Thursday evening? I can tell you one thing – there will be lots of people in Houston tuning into that game when they hear about this win Thursday morning when they hear about it on the news or read it in the paper.
To see the boxscore from the game, click here.
To read the Houston Chronicle’s article about the game, click here.