The Spurs showed Tuesday night why they were only a play or two away from going to the NBA Finals last season.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about it. You can read this Houston Chronicle story to find out more about the Rockets’ collapse and the Spurs’ big scoring runs in the 3rd and 4th quarters to win 92-84. The numbers aren’t pretty.
But I knew when the Rockets closed out the half with a scoring run of their own thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by Scott Padgett — capped with a trey by T-Mac with .1 seconds remaining before halftime — their 13-point lead was going to be fleeting.
Actually, it wasn’t fleeting for awhile. The Rockets opened up a 19-point lead on the Spurs in the third quarter, then everything went south. Offense. Defense. You name it.
Yao only shot 7-for-21 (when is the last time we saw numbers like that?) for 21 points. Once the Spurs put Tim Duncan on him, he showed why he is a former league MVP. Duncan, along with his teammates, pretty much shut down Yao, and the rest of the Rockets for that matter.
For some reason I’m not too upset about this loss. Of course I love to see the Rockets win, but they have been getting so much recognition the past week or so having won 4 in a row, it can serve some good to get slapped back into reality.
The Rockets now know there is another level to which they need to aspire. They know they can’t coast to a win after building a big lead, and need to play hard against great teams like the Spurs.
Yao’s teammates know he is not going to dominate every night, and that they need to provide some help on the scoring side.
Bonzi Wells really knows now his team needs him because there will be some nights where they need his scoring punch.
Jeff Van Gundy knows that when the Rockets’ shooting is suffering, he needs to consider bringing Steve Novak off the bench. Novak didn’t play.
On the bright side…
T-Mac was the T-Mac of old in the first half, scoring 21 points (3-of-4 three-pointers). We’ll forget he only scored 5 points in the second half. He finished with 26.
Thank God the Rockets brought Padgett back to Houston after they let him go two years ago. He was their best 3-point shooter that season, and he showed he still has the touch. Those two 3-pointers he hit late in the second quarter almost brought the house down. He finished 2-of-3 from 3-point territory, and the Rockets were 7-of-11 in the first half.
That first half was unbelievable, with the fans and the bench showing lots of enthusiasm when the Rockets went on their run. It’s going to be fun at Toyota Center this season.
Dikembe Mutombo showed he still has it, blocking Tim Duncan twice in the first half.
Houston only committed 3 turnovers in the first half. They finished with 9. Luther Head had four, though. Tough night for a dude who has been playing pretty well this season.
In the first half they scored 56 points and shot 50% from the field. Although they shot 24% in the second half and scored 28 points (9 in the fourth quarter), we know that kind of poor shooting won’t happen too many times this season. It will probably be more in between those figures.
Look for the Rockets to come out with a vengeance all four quarters against the Bulls Thursday night.