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Yao, McGrady lead comeback win in Charlotte

November 11th, 2007
by John
Yao Ming blocks a shot by Charlotte's Raymond Felton Sunday night where Yao recorded 3 rejections on the night.  But Yao did even more damage on the offensive end, hitting 13-of-15 shots and making 8-of-8 free throws to score a season-high 34 points.  He also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 4 assists in the 85-82 victory. Yao Ming blocks a shot by Charlotte’s Raymond Felton Sunday night where Yao recorded 3 rejections on the night. But Yao did even more damage on the offensive end, hitting 13-of-15 shots and making 8-of-8 free throws to score a season-high 34 points. He also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 4 assists in the 85-82 victory. Click here to see more photos from the game.

The Rockets had no business winning Sunday night in Charlotte. Except for Yao Ming, who was absolutely fantastic, the Rockets shot poorly, had no production from their bench, and turned the ball over way too many times. But thanks to Tracy McGrady finally taking it to the basket in the fourth quarter (rather than settle for jumpers), and Yao’s consistency throughout the game, the Rockets pulled out an impressive 85-82 come-from-behind victory.

Yao put together a game that makes you think, at this rate, that the league MVP could be a real possibility, just like it was last season before he got hurt. Yao made an incredible 13-of-15 shots to score 34 points, making all 8 of his free throws along the way, including two FTs that put the Rockets up 83-82 with 20.4 seconds left. He also had 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.

It was fun to watch this game because there seemed to be a large contingent of Yao fans in Charlotte, of all places, cheering Yao when he scored, more than most small market arenas that Yao visits.

The only “down” side to Yao’s performance was that 6 turnovers were attributed to him, but it seemed like several of those TO’s were a result of poor passes into the low block that would be hard for anyone to handle.

One score he had in the first quarter was absolutely inspiring. On that play, Bonzi Wells grabbed a defensive rebound and threw a long pass to Yao, who was running down the court ahead of everybody. Yao caught the ball on a dead run in the paint and laid the ball in! Who says Yao can’t run the floor? Give credit to Bonzi for throwing such an accurate pass, something that seems so underrated in Bonzi’s all-around game.

As great as that pass was, the Rockets’ overall care of the ball was terrible in the first half. They had 12 turnovers by halftime compared to the Bobcats’ five, and they were lucky to only be trailing 40-35 considering they shot 38.2% from the floor. The only saving grace for the Rockets was that Charlotte was just as bad, shooting 39.5%, despite beating the Rockets down the floor numerous times to outscore them 14-2 on fast break points.

Yao was 7-of-7 from the floor with 17 points in the first half, while McGrady was 4-of-11 with 10 points. That was about it for the Rockets. Shane Battier had a terrible game, hitting no shots in the first half (0-for-3) and finishing with 2 points overall (2-of-4 free throws). It was so bad for Battier, I later caught Mr. Clean for the first time yelling the “F” word after he got called for a charge and turning the ball over.

Rafer Alston was “0-fer” in the first half, missing all 3 of his shot attempts. Chuck Hayes scored 2 points, Mike James had two, Luis Scola had 4, and even Bonzi Wells was 1-for-5 with 2 points. It’s clear in this early season that when James and Bonzi are both not shooting well, the Rockets’ chances of winning are very, very low (re: loss to Dallas).

Things didn’t get much better for most of the Rocket players in the third quarter, except Yao kept on trucking with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Rafer chipped in by making 2-of-3 three-pointers.

During that third quarter, Tracy McGrady was really hurting his team by continuing to shoot ill-advised jumpers (1-for-5 in the quarter), which was a huge mystery given how dominant Yao was. Why couldn’t he let Yao continue with his hot hand like he did in the previous game in the Yao vs. Yi matchup against Milwaukee? In this game Yao had scored 24 of the Rockets’ last 29 points at one point, so why not just continue “feeding the beast?”

Well, at least McGrady did show some willingness to get the ball to the big guy at the end of the third quarter when he drove down the side of the lane, drew 3 defenders, dished it to Bonzi along the sideline behind the three-point line, THEN BONZI THREW A TOUCH PASS TO YAO DOWN LOW FOR THE DUNK! Again, another great pass by Bonzi. The guy knows how to play, even when he’s not making shots like tonight.

That play cut the Rockets’ deficit to 5 points entering the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats extended the lead to 69-60 with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game. However, Yao started bringing the Rockets back into contention when he grabbed a rebound after a Luther Head air-ball from 3-point range, then laid it in!

On the next Rockets possession, Yao handed the ball to Luther Head along the baseline for a reverse layup. That made the score 69-64, Charlotte. Then with 8:25 remaining, Yao threw a perfect cross-court pass to Mike James, who drilled his only 3-pointer of the night! That made the score 69-67, and the Rockets were back in business.

Over the next few minutes, Yao would hit a baseline jumper and block a shot. Then McGrady finally got going again, hitting a long two-pointer, scoring an impossible reverse layup, then getting fouled that sent him to the line. McGrady hit both free throws to finish off scoring 7 points in a row and tying the game at 78-78 with 1:24 remaining.

McGrady would continue his fourth quarter reawakening by scoring a runner in the lane while getting fouled. After making the free throw, the Rockets led 81-80 with 54 seconds remaining.

The Bobcats would respond when Raymond Felton drove to the hoop and got Yao to foul him. Felton would make both free throws to give the Bobcats an 82-81 lead with 38 seconds left in the game.

That set up the two biggest plays of the game for the Rockets when Alston, of all people, jacked up a three-pointer to try to take the lead. His shot missed, but YAO GRABBED THE REBOUND, PUT UP A SHOT that missed, BUT HE WAS FOULED BY EMEKA OKAFOR. That foul put Yao on the line, who calmly sank both free throws to give the Rockets an 83-82 lead with 20.4 seconds remaining. There was a time a couple of years ago where Yao might have missed one fo those free throws. He is really feeling confident these days.

The Bobcats would have one more crack at it when Gerald Wallace tried to drive into a tough Rockets defense when no other offensive options existed, but he was called for pushing off on McGrady as he went up for a shot, and that gave the Rockets the ball with 3.5 seconds remaining.

Mike James would be fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass, and although he had a bad night (1-of-3 from the floor for 3 points), he made both free throws to give the Rockets an 85-82 lead with 2.3 seconds left. Battier would intercept the Bobcats’ inbound pass, and the Rockets would escape with an improbable victory to go 6-1.

McGrady deserves credit for being aggressive going to the hole down the stretch, finding his shot (4-of-4 from the field, 4-of-5 from the line), and not turning the ball over in the clutch. He finished with 26 points on a respectable 9-of-20 from the field, and 7-of-9 from the line.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, Yao’s 13-of-15 shooting is unbelievable. Of course, many of those buckets came from teammates helping him get the ball near the rim, so some of the credit goes to them.

Overall, this is the type of offense I have wanted the Rockets to use to deploy Yao’s strengths: a mixture of shots that come from him entering the lane when other players take it to the hoop and dish to him at the last second, or for him to come in and clean up the boards and put up a shot (or get fouled and go to the line where he’s automatic), and some shots to come from those fallaway jumpers where his accuracy has really improved the last few games. Last but not least, for him to shoot the occasional jumper to keep the defense always guessing what he might do next.

8 Responses to “Yao, McGrady lead comeback win in Charlotte”

  1. David Says:

    Thank you John for putting up this post so LATE [or early in the morning]. It’s great to see Yao hitting shots that he thought a couple of them would not fall. It was an ugly game, but we’ll take the win. A W is a W.

    As for the poor play by Mike James, other than his excellent performance for Week 1, he seems to be out of syn for this whole of Week 2. Yeah, “O-fer” too. So would you see Steve reactivated and have some minutes soon? BTW, what’s his “personal family reason” or he’s cooking up drama?

    Again, many thanks to John who works relentlessly for this great forum!

    I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts. Thanks. Regarding Steve, I think Rick needs to give him a few minutes soon, or he’s going to go off the deep end. His “personal family reason” sounds like an excuse for being disgruntled.

  2. James Ma Says:

    It’s great to see Yao back in “MVP” form after a slow and passive start this season. What I’m most impressed by is his stamina this year. I thought I’d never see the day when Yao would average more than 36 minutes a game while playing in an up-tempo offense! Yao is always surprising me with what he can achieve.

    I’m also really happy to see how relaxed at at-home he now seems to be in the NBA. You can see it in his body language during games and also at media interviews. He is now 100% settled in professionally and settled down personally!

    So I guess this all means Yao has formally entered his prime years. Boy, am I going to enjoy the NBA in the next few years!

  3. rv2843 Says:

    Yao for Player of the Week!!!

  4. Jack Says:

    Great game! Last year they would have lost a close game like this, but this year. Thanks John for the report!

  5. Jeffrey Says:

    Battier didn’t shoot well, but he was still +16 for the game, best among all players. Those are your hustle points right there.

  6. aussiefan Says:

    I don’t get Rafer…he takes shots when it is not his shot to take, his stats is just POOR for a starting PG, and he is just in general not consistent or reliable. The most ironic thing is that in the current half-court offense, it is McGrady that calls and makes the play and Rafer is just another perimeter shooter! The only reason why Houston is hanging on to him is Ric Adelman’s wish that one day he’ll get his motion offense happening and only then Rafer will be for suitable…I don’t know how ‘unfit’ Steve Francis really is but I think he deserves a chance..

  7. Jim From Hollywood CA! Says:

    “feed the beast……” 110% Right!!!
    T-MAc again, and again still keeps shooting those 20 foot jumpers when Yao has position down low. Yaos fade-a-way jumper is just amazing. hIS “SHANGHAI SHAKE” is just awesome. Its a good thing I have the NBA league pass. Im able to watch all the rockets games!!

  8. adrian Says:

    I’m Pissed….the rockets are too good. A lil advice for rick. This is for all the bloggers out thurr.
    Imma tell it how it is……..

    To Rick Adelman

    1. In two losses, Yao Ming shot a total of 24 shot. WTH??
    2. PG. Play
    3. The PF play.
    4. Mike james forming ego before our eyes.
    5. 5 on five or 2 on five?

    That’s it, just 4 simple mistakes rick is doing

    1. Get yao more shots for crying out loud. It’s evident that when our franchise player isn’t shooting, were losing. Ricks offense isn’t working because
    he doesen’t have the right lineup in. Were just missing he 4 and 1’s production. Shoot yao. The doubles cant be an excuse. You can create your own shot
    all day. Turnarounds, hooks, all day! FInd the big man and we win, a la spurs and lakers.

    2. Steve francis,a 3 time all star,is benched. Adelman is taking this personal and he’s an a** hole. Start him,The man is back in houston,
    and even better he’splaying with a big man. IT’s time to be thru, with skip to my lou. Rafer is just not cutting it. I mean those in the basketball world must
    be scratching their head with this one. LAst 2 or 3 years rafer hasnt done nothin for us but makes us cross our fingers when he shoots!!
    Rick your tryin a new offense, now how about a new, well refreshing pg in a resurgent steve francis. For crying out loud he
    took a pay cut cause he knows this team can win it all. The energy, passion will be there, and his legs must be
    super fresh….with francis, he can keep the defense guessing because of his driving ability, all rafer does is shoot threes and miss him.
    Bench rafer alston, he hasn’t done anything for us yet and i’ve had enough skip, holla back.If a defender
    has to run at steve francis, your at his disposal, and we all know what franchise can do. A proven all star, who makes his living
    off penetrating and finishing, something the rockets lack and need. Rick doesen’t get it, and neither do i..screw you rick

    3. Start scola rick, we need production from the 4 in your offense. in SAC town, the pf played a huge role in his offense.
    Scola can be the webber adelman needs. CHuck can’t shoot or score. But is a championship piece. He can be huge off the bench.
    His offense isn’t working becausehe doesen’t have the right lineup in. Were just missing the 4 and 1’s production.
    Insert scola for the 4 spot. Scola is very good, for cryin out loud he’s a GOld medalist! A 2 time mvp in the spanish league. It’s time to
    respect scola and get him the ball in the post and let him operate.Scola is a good outside shooter,
    but is superb with his back to it. But rick doesen’t get it.

    4. Mike james, chill out man, your gettin selfish over there again. That’s why kg and t-mac dont like u. play your role
    and create. numerous times where a runner is runnin at you and take a contested 3. Not a wise shot, penetrate or make the extra pass, your quick
    as hell. Stop settling mike, and when u do penetrate, pass it! Chill mike.Brooks James, bonzi, and hayes would be sick off the bench. T

    5. The rockets must learn to play “together.” We can be very selfish and settle for the momentarily open three off the double.
    But they fail to penetrate. Watching the
    spurs play the lakers, they created everything off penetration and ball movement. They made it so simple. We have a dominant big game,
    now create off those doubles and penetrate. The rockets lack penetration, and interior passing off those doubles. plain and simple.
    Play together H-town and we can win. Look at the Gators, not a huge fanbut man they played together. Look how they fed off the
    doubles, interior passing and kickouts. Scola can do that, for crying out
    he plays argentina ball… Play together houston and stop settling. Penetrate and pass, the Get yao involved early and
    let him control the tempo of the game. Big men win championships, and hes capable of doing so.

    Check it:

    Make sense jon feigen? you kno what scola can do, and why bench an allstar in his prime? check it bloggers
    Steve with yao:
    02-03 HOU 81 81 41.0 0.435 0.354 0.800 2.0 4.2 6.2 6.2 1.7 0.5 3.69 3.10 21.0
    03-04 HOU 79 79 40.4 0.403 0.292 0.775 1.5 4.0 5.5 6.2 1.8 0.4 3.72 3.30 16.6
    Career 566 540 37.9 0.429 0.343 0.799 1.7 4.0 5.6 6.1 1.5 0.3 3.56 3.20 18.4

    Rafer with yao:

    05-06 HOU 63 63 38.6 0.379 0.327 0.692 0.6 3.5 4.0 6.7 1.6 0.2 2.49 3.10 12.1
    06-07 HOU 82 82 37.1 0.375 0.363 0.734 0.4 3.1 3.4 5.4 1.6 0.1 2.07 2.40 13.3
    07-08 HOU 7 7 26.7 0.302 0.241 0.778 0.3 3.1 3.4 4.0 1.0 0.0 1.71 1.40 6.6
    Career — 475 271 27.8 0.383 0.356 0.727 0.4 2.4 2.7 4.7 1.2 0.1 1.71 2.20 9.6

    HUH? Rick, your an idiot, let me be the coach.

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