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Rockets stop the bleeding to halt 6-game losing streak

November 24th, 2007
by John
Yao Ming comes over defensively to help Shane Battier defend against Denver's Carmelo Anthony taking it to the hoop Saturday night.  Yao finished with 22 points on 9-of-18 shots, and grabbed 13 boards in a rare 109-81 blowout against a Nugget team that has now shot below 40% for three straight games.Yao Ming comes over defensively to help Shane Battier defend against Denver’s Carmelo Anthony taking it to the hoop Saturday night. Yao finished with 22 points on 9-of-18 shots, and grabbed 13 boards in a rare 109-81 blowout against a Nugget team that has now shot below 40% for three straight games. Click here for more photos from the game.

For all of us who tuned into the Rockets game Saturday night against the Nuggets to see if they would crash-and-burn in the game’s final minutes…well, we’ll all have to wait until Monday night when the Rockets play the Clippers in LA.

Having lost 6 in a row, the Rockets came out like a caged animal and opened huge 20+ point leads against a poor-shooting Nugget team. Although Denver came into the game 9-4, they had shot less than 40% their last two games, and aren’t really as good as their record indicates. They made it 3 games in a row Saturday night, making only 35.4% of their shots in a 109-81 loss to the Rockets.

The core of their offense, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, made only 15-of-38 shots to score 35 of their 81 points. So it’s really hard to tell just how well the Rockets will fare once some real pressure is applied to their defense. But the Rockets will take the ‘W’ any way they can get it to get their record back to 7-7.

It was clear the Rockets were going to go all out to stop their 6-game losing streak, showing lots of energy and resolve to build a lead so big that no team could really blow. It’s just too bad it took this long for a sense of urgency to set in.

Tracy McGrady was aggressive going to the hole, and his shooting percentage reflected it, making 13-of-23 shots for 35 points. Not intentionally wanting to be a party-pooper, I still think he fell in love with too many outside shots. Everything he shot close seemed to go in, so I think that emboldened him to take four 3-pointers (he missed three) and take three other unnecessary jump shots.


But the welcome addition to Houston’s attack was the re-emergence of Steve Francis into the lineup for only the second time in 14 games this season. Although he didn’t start, Francis came in when the Rockets had a 24-11 lead in the first quarter, and he made his presence felt a few seconds later when he dished to Mike James for a three-pointer. Francis would continue to hustle and spark the team to extend the lead. There was a noticeable swagger in the offense with him running the show, and it was about time he had his chance to show what he can do.

I had mentioned earlier in the day in this comment that only an idiot would not play Francis after the Rockets had lost 6 games in row, a development that came a couple of losses too late, in my opinion. Francis made the most of the opportunity, hitting 4-of-9 shots to score 10 points (most of those misses occuring in garbage time in the fourth quarter), grabbing 4 boards, dishing 3 assists, getting 2 steals, and blocking a shot.

I don’t know how Rick Adelman will position his playing of Francis on Saturday night. Will it be because he finally recognized the need to do something different (like take minutes away from Rafer Alston), or will it simply be because Bonzi Well‘s ankle injury required him to shuffle the rotation around, thus freeing up room for another point guard to get some playing time? Hopefully it’s the former rather than the latter (the latter would be ludicrous reason). Francis proved he needs to be in the lineup, and arguably start, over Alston. But right now, I’ll take what I can get in this strange environment in which the Rockets play.

Francis appearance in the game and McGrady’s hot shooting seemed to make Yao Ming‘s solid play an afterthought. But Yao was solid and determined, scoring 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting and grabbing 13 boards, four on the offensive glass.

I continue to love watching Luis Scola. Although he only took 5 shots (and made two), he hustled several times to grab offensive boards that was Moses Malone-like, along with a few pump fakes thrown in. I haven’t see activity like that on the offensive boards in Houston for quite some time, not from Chuck Hayes, not even Yao. Scola is a stud, and he was given the ultimate compliment after all his teammates rushed over to him to pick him up off the floor after one battle where he grabbed 3 or 4 offensive rebounds in a row within 5 seconds, and was finally knocked to the floor by a Nugget defender, the only way he could be stopped.

With Francis getting some playing time, there may be hope for Houston, but I’m not saying anything until I see consistent offensive and defensive execution in tight games. We’ll find out Monday night in LA where the Rockets always seem to play games that go down to the wire, and then Wednesday night in Phoenix and Thursday night in Golden State. Those games are going to be tough.

So what do you think? Is the jury still out on the Rockets being able to play clutch, or did this win show you something that bodes well for being able to execute late in close games?

7 Responses to “Rockets stop the bleeding to halt 6-game losing streak”

  1. curtis Says:

    well, I didn’t watch the game, but it is obvious the game was a blown out from the beginning, I think steve is good enough to start, he is a agresser and a leader unlike both yao ming and t-mac, they are great players but too gentle, and can not take over the game at clutch moments, but francis is more agressive and be able to take the ball to the hoop, also scola is very talented all around player and plays very smart, he deserve to start as well so if the rockets starts with this starting line up they will really win games.
    c yao ming
    f scola
    f battier
    g t-mac
    g francis

  2. Jainon Says:

    It is only one game. I need more to be convinced that the rox will live up to the high expectation. many of us felt they could be a serious contender before the season started. obviously the recent losing streak put an end to that. Nevertheless, it was good to see S.F back playing, and scola playing well. I will get my hope up again if S.F and Scola get meaningful mins and play well.

  3. adrian Says:

    Tell it lke it is

  4. Marco Says:

    Like a few people posted in the last blog, I think people need to calm down.. Yes the Rockets lost 6 straight but they also went 6-1 in the first 7 games. Adelman’s offense is new to everyone in the team except for Bonzi so they have to get used to it. They went from a defensive mentality coach to an offensive one and of course they’re going to need some time to adjust. I think that instead of spending time in the high post, Yao needs to be moving around the low blocks and Rafer or shane setting solid screens to free Yao up from fronting defenders. Scola has proved to be an all around good basketball player with a good mid range jumper so he needs to be in the high post facilitating the offense.
    Mike James needs to be sat down and told that his job is to first find Yao (highest FG percentage on team) and if he’s not open, TMac then MAYBE think about shooting the ball because everytime he checks into the game, it seems that he hoists the first shot he sees. The ball handlers need to know that the offense need to go through the all stars first. They get their shots when Yao or TMac get double/triple teamed.
    Shane, Luis and Chuck are solid. They do everything that role players need to do.
    ADELMAN, the offense in THIS team starts from the LOW post, not the high post. Everytime Yao is in the high post, it takes away from the offense since the highest percentage of field goals from the team comes from the low post. And Adelman, DEFENSE wins games.
    For all you JVG haters out there who smashed him when he got let go, think about what he accomplished when Yao was out last season. Fourth best record in the west when the best player was out 32 games?!?! He was/is a great coach. I live in Chicago so I hated him and Riley when they coached NY, but I have so much respect for him.
    Trade Rafer, James, Snyder and Novak for a Jason Kidd or any decent point guard PLEASE.

  5. Kaolin Says:

    Last night was the kind of offense I wanted to see in the Rockets. They were using their superior talent pool, and kept attacking until the very end. But, like the others said, this is just one game, we will need to wait and watch what happens.

    I felt Mike James has become more unselfish in recent couple of games. He was not shooting many early shots nor over-dribbling. And he still has the determination when shooting or going to the baskets. If he can continue this trend I am in favor of letting him replace Rafer. Adelman played Francis the way I think he should — let him take the place of Luther Head. I like Luther Head but I think he is lost right now. With Bonzi back, the rotation I would like to see would be starting Mike James, and replacing Luther head with Francis and the rest unchanged.

  6. Luckyme Says:

    The biggest difference in last night game was the “motivation factor” – in my opinion. They were determined not to lose another game and to stop the bleeding. What also helped were the changes in the lineups, using SF etc. I really like the way he attacked the basket.

    ALthough this is only one game, and don’t forget the fact that the nuggets shot pretty badly as well, it is a good start and let’s hope there are a lot more to come.

  7. Wilson Says:

    Put Luis Scola in the starting lineup and play Aaron Brooks more!!!

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