WEDNESDAY, 3/15/06 – Very rarely have I seen a player dominate a team in one half, and still be down 12 points at halftime.
That’s what happened Wednesday night in Houston as Yao scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds by halftime (36 points and 12 boards overall), yet the Rockets still trailed Dallas 57-45.
The Rockets got within 6 points in the fourth quarter thanks to three-pointers, but the Mavericks just turned on the jets and pulled away to win 95-81
Yao was 8-of-10 shooting by halftime while the rest of the team shot 7-of-20.
On top of that, they couldn’t stop any of the Mavs, who shot 60% in the first half and 52% for the game. And that’s with four of their top eight players out because of injury.
It looked like Yao was on his way to 60 points the way he was playing. It reminded me a lot of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game where his numbers just kept going up and up. He just couldn’t be stopped. I was looking forward to buying this game on Google Video so I could save it for my personal collection.
Dallas’ Jason Terry described Yao after the game: “An animal. He is playing like a beast. He is playing real aggressive. This is the best I have seen him play since he’s been in the league.”
Jerry Stackhouse said, “This is the best I have ever seen him play. He’s the best center in the NBA right now on one end (offensive) of the court. Every team has to focus on him more than any other center in the NBA, even Shaq (O’Neal).”
After that monster first half, the Mavericks blanketed Yao down low, and only shot 7 times, making four. So Yao would kick the ball out to his teammates for open shots, but they couldn’t make the Mavs pay.
Some of the same culprits as the last game were the Rockets’ Achilles’ heel. Keith Bogans, playing in place of T-Mac, was 2-of-12 for six points. Juwan Howard was 3-of-11 for 7 points.
Houston’s bench was outscored 20-6 in the first half. Believe it or not, that’s all the bench scored the entire game – six.
Despite Yao’s monster offensive game, coach Jeff Van Gundy still though there was improvement ahead for Yao.
“We can expect much better from (Yao) defensively and on the boards. He had one rebound in the second half, and he was not active defensively. He’s been playing great on offense, really great, and he’s not been as good on the boards or defensively in the last three games.”
This type of criticism toward Yao may be unfounded since he is playing so well while everyone else isn’t. I think the good thing is that these kind of words from JVG doesn’t really faze Yao. I think he takes it and uses it to motivate himself even more. That’s probably why he is as good as he is right now.
Houston is now 4.5 games behind the Lakers with 17 games left to play. It’s over folks. Time to start thinking about next year.
To see the boxscore from the game, click here.
To read the Houston Chronicle’s article about the game, click here.