I reviewed all 8 of the turnovers that Yao had on Thursday night and broke down each one below. The facts shows that Yao didn’t really have that many “traditional” turnovers you would think, like mishandling the ball in the paint or traveling. He actually handled the ball very well, and when he didn’t (which was only a couple times), you’ve got to give credit to Utah for playing good defense.
Since many of these turnovers by Yao were ‘unusual,’ it really wasn’t as bad as you might think, which bodes well for Game 7.
Here’s each ‘turnover’ broken down:
11:41 – Yao tipped in a missed shot from another Rockets’ player, but it was ruled that the ball was still in the cylinder, so it was called goaltending. Replays showed that there was no way that ball was going to go in. Regardless, when you think of a traditional turnover, you don’t think of goaltending.
6:20 – Yao set a screen that Derek Fisher ran into, so Yao was called for the block, which was a very debatable call. Perhaps they thought Yao didn’t give Fisher enough room once he was passed the ball. One thing is for sure: there was no way that was a moving screen. Yao was set. They are calling it tight on Yao tonight!
4:47 – Yao was trying to throw a 4-foot pass over his defender to T-Mac for a layup, but the ball might have been deflected and resulted in a lost possession. If Yao is trying to throw a short pass to another player for a layup, a defender makes a good play on it, and it results in a turnover, I can live with that.
4:13 – Yao was making a move into the lane and was going to shoot a jumper over Mehmet Okur, but Andrei Kirilenko came over to help out and block his shot, and forced Yao to shuffle his feet as he was going up for a shot that was surely going to be blocked. That was good defense by Kirilenko.
9:18 – Yao made his patented baseline spin move, but Okur did a great job slapping the ball away. You’ve got to give Okur credit for timing his slap on the ball just perfectly.
11:17 – Yao is called for a 3-second violation, but the problem is that Yao was open in the lane and Shane Battier didn’t throw him the ball. Instead, Shane passed it to Luther Head who was standing next to him. When Luther got it, Yao was still open, but Luther didn’t throw him the ball either!! Then you take into account that Yao had gotten out of the lane maybe a half second after 3 seconds, usually the refs won’t call you for 3 seconds if you’re making your way out of the lane. So then you realize the refs are calling it very tight on Yao (see 3:00 minute mark below). Some officials call it more tight than others, and it’s definitely not consistent. That has to be very frustrating for Yao.
4:06 – Yao throws a light, high elbow on Okur, and Okur “sells” it to the official by doing a mini-flop. That’s a turnover that could have been prevented by Yao: he shouldn’t be throwing an elbow that high.
3:00 – Yao stays in the lane too long trying to get an entry pass from Juwan Howard and is called for a 3-second violation. The problem is that two Utah defenders came over to make that entry pass impossible from Howard without that pass getting stolen (good defense by Utah), so Yao should have removed himself from the lane sooner, but he was on his way out of the lane right at the 3-second mark. C’mon refs! Give the dude a break. If you’re going to call 3 seconds on that, then call it the same on other guys like Carlos Boozer.