WEDNESDAY, 1/25/06 – This is going to be very short since I have been working tons of hours on a work project that is due in the next couple of days. As a result, I wasn’t able to watch the Rockets play the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night, which is a big sacrifice in my book. Wouldn’t you know…once I am not able to watch a Rockets game, they go off and have their biggest margin of victory this season, 102-78, over Charlotte, who have been injury-depleted themselves lately (Emeka Okafor, Gerald Wallace and Kareem Rush).
From what I read, the Rockets made sacrifices themselves with coach Jeff Van Gundy changing many of the locker room rules before the game to replicate the atmosphere the team has while on the road, and where they have a much better record: 11-13 compared to 3-13 at home. Van Gundy took away the hot buffet for their pre-game meal and had it replaced with cold sandwiches. The team lounge was locked. Injured players and ballboys, who normally don’t travel with the team, were not allowed in the locker room or allowed to sit on the bench.
Obviously, it worked. I give credit to Van Gundy for saying he DOES NOT CARE what people think about the changes.
Because the Rockets had a rare blowout victory, T-Mac didn’t have to play the fourth quarter, and still finished with 29 points. Newcomers Lonny Baxter and Chuck Hayes continue to play well, which is very encouraging. Baxter finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Hayes scored 11 and grabbed 8 boards. I don’t remember two new undrafted players making such an impact at the same time on the Rockets in a long time.
It will be interesting to see what happens when many of the Rockets’ injured players are able to return, like Bob Sura, Derek Anderson and Jon Barry. Forgetting the fact that these three guys play guard and Baxter/Hayes play forward…Sura and Barry are near the end of their career, as is Anderson (and who has been a big disappointment this year). Who knows, you might see the Rockets keep these guys on the inactive list, hope they retire in the off-season, and lock up Baxter and Hayes for the remainder of the season and maybe beyond.
Oh well…I have to get back to working on my project. Hopefully the results of my sacrifices this week will turn out the same way as it did for the Rockets Wednesday night.
To see the boxscore from the game, click here.
To read the Houston Chronicle’s article of the game, click here.