FRIDAY, 2/3/06 – I had tickets to Friday night’s game, but couldn’t make it. Bad move. I could have seen a game where Houston dominated for once.
Houston had one of its easiest victories of the season Friday night, beating Seattle 100-77 at Toyota Center. A 23-point margin of victory is a rarity in this abysmal season. But with T-Mac and Yao back together again, the Rockets won their second straight game at home (the first time that has happened this season) and are showing again they are tough to beat when healthy. They are now 11-6 this season when they play together.
T-Mac had 36 points, shooting over 50% (14-of-26) and made 4-of-7 three-pointers. He also had 9 rebounds and 3 steals. Meanwhile, Yao scored 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds. That was after Yao struggled in the first half, hitting only 3-of-10 shots.
T-Mac caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 14 points and launching them to a 73-57 lead heading into the fourth quarter after ending the third on a 23-8 run. The rest of the way, the Rockets didn’t let up, even showing some impressive fast breaks, and closed out the Sonics easily.
Just as impressive as the offensive explosion was the Rockets holding the Sonics to 77 points after Seattle had scored over 111 points in six of their last 7 games.
The Rockets got meaningful contributions from Luther Head, who scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting. In 18 minutes of play, Stromile Swift also chipped in 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and grabbed 6 boards.
Rafer Alston was awful, hitting only 1-of-7 shots (missing all six of his 3-point attempts). He did have 11 assists, though. David Wesley was only 1-of-5 with two points.
Now that Yao and T-Mac are back, you have to look at the standings and see if they can possibly make the playoffs. Right now they are 17-29 and 6.5 games out of the last playoff spot. New Orelans/Oklahoma City currently holds that position with a 23-22 record (.511)
With that winning percentage being a benchmark, let’s assume it will take a 42-40 record for making the playoffs. That means the Rockets will need to go 25-11 the rest of the way. That’s a 69.4% record. Only Detroit, San Antonio and Dallas have better winning percentages this season.
It’s going to be tough for the Rockets to make it, but if any two guys can get them there, it’s T-Mac and Yao.
To see the boxscore from the game, click here.
To read the Houston Chronicle’s article about the game, click here.