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Rockets end season in typical fashion, lose to Spurs

April 19th, 2006
by John

Finally it’s over! May the Rockets’ 2005-06 season rest in peace. In a microcosm of their season, the Rockets had a chance to win Wedneday night against the World Champion San Antonio Spurs, but Rafer Alston missed two free throws with 7 seconds remaining that could have won it, and that was basically the ballgame. Rockets lose 89-87.

Like many Rocket fans, I’m glad Rafer missed those free throws to give them a better chance at a higher draft lottery pick, although I still don’t think he’s the long-term answer at point guard (another abysmal 6-for-16 shooting night).

And the on-again off-again Juwan Howard scored 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting after scoring 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting in the Rockets’ last game against Denver. How come that continues to happen? Keith Bogans, who had such a great game in Denver with some clutch plays down the stretch, shot only 1-of-5 from the field for two points in 21 minutes. And David Wesley only made 3-of-11 shots for 10 points.

On the bright side, unlike Rafer who will be thinking about those missed free throws all summer, those Rockets who can go into the off-season feeling good about themselves are the following:

  • Stromile Swift, who led all Rockets with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
  • Luther Head finished strong, scoring 17 points, grabbing 7 boards, and dishing 3 assists. But he did only make 1-of-5 from behind the arc.
  • Last but not least, Chuck Hayes was incredible, coming up with clutch rebounds (7), a block, two steals, and shooting 6-of-7 from the field for 14 points. All of that in 23 minutes!
  • So who do I see sticking with the Rockets next season? Here are my initial thoughts:

    Will definitely be around:
    Yao
    T-Mac

    Will probably stick:
    Stromile Swift
    Juwan Howard
    Chuck Hayes
    – finished strong and could be the hustle guy that Van Gundy always loves to have around

    On the bubble:
    Bob Sura – hope his back shows improvement during the off-season. When he’s playing, he’s as tough as they get
    Rafer Alston – if the Rockets can find another free agent point guard this off-season, trade him
    Keith Bogans – inconsistent, but played well in spurts. Could be a good backup to T-Mac.
    Richie Frahm – showed he can hit the three, which the Rockets really need
    Ryan Bowen – can Van Gundy afford to keep a defensive specialist on the roster who can’t score?
    Dikembe Mutombo – serviceable, but if the Rockets find a more athletic backup who can score…

    Gone:
    David Wesley – really toughed it out this year and tried very hard, but he’s past his prime. Thanks for all your heart over the past couple of years, D-dub.
    Maciej Lampe – couldn’t get any playing time, even when the Rockets were bad. That must tell you something.
    Rick Brunson – see directly above

    Now with the season over, I’m going to continue tracking Yao’s recovery from foot surgery as well as discuss some of the Rockets’ moves this off-season that will help improve them from having tied for the worst home record in the league this season at 15-26.

    john@YaoMingFanClub.com

    To see the boxscore from the game, click here.

    To read the Houston Chronicle’s article about the game, click here.