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Rockets get win the old way — relying on McGrady’s hot hand

November 26th, 2007
by John
Yao Ming shoots a jump hook over LA Clipper Chris Kaman on Monday, November 26th in Los Angeles in an 88-71 Rockets win.  Yao finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, 8 rebounds and 1 block.  Meanwhile, Kaman came out strong and scored 22 points on 7-of-20 shooting, and 13 boards.Yao Ming shoots a jump hook over LA Clipper Chris Kaman on Monday, November 26th in Los Angeles in an 88-71 Rockets win. Yao finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, 8 rebounds and 1 block. Meanwhile, Kaman came out strong and scored 22 points on 7-of-20 shooting, and 13 boards. Click here and here for more photos from the game.

Well, we’re going to have to wait at least another game to see if the Rockets’ renewed emphasis on ball movement will be effective. Despite Rick Adelman‘s vow to not lean on Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady (especially) to have so much of the scoring load placed on their shoulders, in the second half he absolutely threw that philosophy out the window Monday night in a victory over the hapless LA Clippers.

In the third quarter when the Rockets finally got some separation from the Clippers due to them missing tons of shots (Sam Cassell’s injury in the first quarter really hurt their cause), they just kept feeding McGrady who put the entire offense on his shoulders by scoring 9 points in the third, and 19 in the fourth. This was quite a change from their commitment in the first quarter when I thought McGrady did a good job taking it to the hole and not settling on jump shots.

In the second half, I can understand the philosophy of “feeding the hot hand,” but this was ridiculous. There was no ball movement at all – just McGrady going one-on-one as he scored 28 of the Rockets’ 48 second-half points, and 36 overall.

Where is the commitment and the will power to stay the course, and not to be tempted to go back to the “old way” of scoring points (which we know doesn’t work in crunch time), and work out the kinks in the new system?


The same thing happened during a stretch of the second quarter when the Rockets hit their first 6-of-8 shots, then suddenly went 0-for-8 settling mainly for long jumpers without any ball movement. There was no timeout called to make adjustments – just letting the team flounder, reverting back to its old ways.

The other frustrating part of this game was 0-fer Alston, as usual. Although his stats looked decent (14 points on 7-of-14 shooting, 9 assists and one 1 turnover), when the game was still tight in the second half, he made only 1-of-5 three-pointers in the 3rd and 4th quarter (why is he still shooting those?), including an airball, followed by stepping out of bounds when he got the ball behind the three-point line (how many times have we seen that happen with him?), then Alston showing his frustration with a delay of game call.

After Alston pulled that delay of game stunt, Adelman was visibly pissed at Alston from the bench, but he didn’t pull him from the game immediately.

What the hell? So not only did Adelman abandon the plan for the new offense, but he kept playing “awful Alston” a ton of minutes (40) compared to only 7 for Francis. I don’t want to hear any of the nonsense the Houston announcers seemed to be promoting (“He made 3-of-7 three-pointers,” or “He had 9 assists,” or “He had only one turnover”). The fact of the matter is that he was a huge liability in that second half when he was left wide open by the Clippers (the rest of the league obviously knows how bad of a shooter he is), and he didn’t make them pay. That puts even more pressure on everyone else to make up for that gaping hole on the perimeter.

Similarly, Shane Battier was back to his normal self, not taking it to the hole and shooting 6 of his 7 shots from three-point territory, and making only 1 of those 3-point attempts. And the awesome firepower of Luis Scola? He took only two shots, back to his old self of deferring to McGrady. I was also quite surprised that Adelman brought the struggling Bonzi Wells back so that it cut into Steve Francis’ minutes. Bonzi finished playing 17 minutes while Francis only played 7, as mentioned earlier.

So unfortunately we’re back to putting Adelman on the hot seat for being such a flip-flopper in his commitment toward giving minutes to the right guys (Scola, Francis) and not staying the course with his ball movement read-and-react offense. How long has he been coaching again?

I can tell you if the Rockets would have lost this game after the Clippers shot a pathetic 33% from the floor, including 4-of-21 in the fourth quarter, there would be lots of howling going on. But fortunately for Adelman he got the ‘W,’ and that tends to call the dogs off temporarily until the plan eventually backfires.

The lone bright spot for the Clippers was the much improved Chris Kaman, who was determined to outplay Yao Ming, which he did. Kaman came out with a vengeance against Yao, scoring 18 first half points to Yao’s 9. He scored from all over the place – down low and a couple of jumpers he swished. Wow, he has improved!

Kaman tapered off in the second half, scoring only 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting, whereas Yao only scored 5 points to finish with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 turnovers. Who knows how many points Yao and the others would have scored if McGrady had been forced by Adelman to move the ball around to other players.

The only player that keeps getting the ball from players like Alston and McGrady who shouldn’t is Dikembe Mutombo. I love Deke, but I swear he continues to drop passes that are delivered right on the money. Perhaps his age is catching up with him.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Phoenix on Wednesday. Will they try to play the old way or the new way? If they play the old way, they will have no chance.

6 Responses to “Rockets get win the old way — relying on McGrady’s hot hand”

  1. AirChina23 Says:

    I watched the game from league pass which they fed the local fox sports channel in Los Angeles. In the 4th quarter, after Alston airballed the three and was then assessed a technical for delaying the game. The possession after that, which Rafer was left WIDE open with the ball at the top of the key. The announcers laughed and said “Come on, Rafer, we want you to shoot the ball!” Alston was all the sudden reluctant to shoot even though his man was ten feet away. Instead, he passed to a heavily guarded McGrady, who was clearly not happy and yelled at Rafer to shoot the ball.

  2. Jim From Hollywood CA! Says:

    I was fortunate enough to be at the game last night and witnessed first hand what I have been fearing for the last 5 games. Yao is tired. His jumpers are short or long, and defensively he was getting beat to the 1st step. Even during the shootaround before the 2nd half began, Yao took like 3 shots and went to sit down by himself. I think RA is not using him as effectively as he can. LAst night when the game was in the bag, YAo was in there and they seemed to force the ball into him to perhaps get his point stats up. He missed badly, and you could tell that he should have been observing the action from the sideline. John, when the Rockets play the clippers in Los Angeles, I can give you some good analysis. Im usually always at the clipps/rockets game. Last night i was sitting in a all Yao section of the staples center. Go Rockets!

    That’s cool you were there, and thanks for the offer to provide great analysis. Feel free to post your comments here anytime you have great observations like the one you just gave that we may not be able to pick up on over the TV airwaves. — John

  3. The Private Says:

    I going to post this message here because i am so upset. i apologize in advance if i sound disrespectful. IMHO I believe with the creation of the Yi forum we have to many Yi fans here who are Yao haters and Rockets haters. In the game thread these poster are critical of everything that happens during a game. Posters were complaining that players don’t pass the ball to Yao or they pass it to him in the high post or not close enough to the basket. Man thats not true, it look like many players pass the ball to Yao in low post. Then people criticize Mcgrady for shooting to much. Damn he was hitting his shots, driving to basket, making free throws, even get upset at Alston when he didn’t shoot a wide open 3 pt shot. I don’t get it. I like Yi, but his fans here are not Yao fans and they ruining this bbs. Its bad enough not to many post here, but now new members who post more for Yi will make any chance to bash Yao.

    Ok enough of that. Some members here who only post pictures i have seen post now more on clutch bbs. Thats their choice. I post pictures of game when i see that one poster has not. Then the next day I read John’s blog and click to see my pictures. Not my pictures, but clutch pictures. Then i see another picture link, no problem, maybe oversight by admin, click there, more clutch pictures. WTF!!!! Always be discrimination, always be favortism. I use to it. Posters here call me retarded because sometimes my a.d.d cause me not to always spell right or use sentence correctly. I been ban from maybe 3-4 bbs because admin think i write bad on purpose. But medicine wear off at night. People are blessed with good health, not me. It not easy, but i do best i can.

    Now i see my thread has been moved. Again, posters here don’t care about Rockets or maybe even Yao. I find out many players live near my apt. I ride my bike at least 9 miles to take pictures of players houses to share with posters. I get reply from poster who has called me a retard why i post this trash. I think maybe i make mistake. A friend called me, said he read the post, told me ymm bbs members are all leaving. Posters who are Rocket fans post now on Clutch, Yao fans a few still post here, Clutch, and other bbs. Friend told me alot of people still check the site, but are not members who post. He told me to post email address where visitors can answer in email. When i did it, i receive alot of emails. I get alot of emails with just little squares. I called my friend about it, he told me these are emails from China that have different language settings? I get alot of emails from people who say they from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seatle, NY, Toronto, Vancoover, Monterey Park, etc. The person Ruben who knew who owned one of the houses is from Monterey Park, he said it is close to LA. I don’t know why this thread moved, because i will post the Yao Mings house, not the same one from the movie but a new house. My friend says it is ok because i don’t include addresses or directions in the post. Now its moved, but posters only post on yao and yi forum. I hope visitors read the forum where its been moved. If not i stop posting here out of protest to discrimination and favortism.

    It was moved to the “Non-Yao stuff” forum where it belongs, but there is a link for people to get to it from the old forum where it was originally posted. I have been moving threads to the right posts when I come across it being in the wrong place, so you’re not the first person this has happened to. — John

  4. JT in MD Says:

    So…yao has a double-double and t-mac goes off…the clips shoot a low percentage …the ROx get an easy win..AND some here are STILL ripping Adelman? I don’t get it.
    Tracy SHOULD have the green light when he is feeling it. He is smart enough to involve his teammates when his shot is not falling – BUT they need to make the shot and not be afraid to let it rip.
    Rafer – go see a sports psychologist and then get back to the team.

    Fool’s gold, my friend, fool’s gold. Letting McGrady let ‘er rip when he’s feeling it won’t do anything for the team in the crunch of the playoffs. We saw that last year. All they have to do is TRY to strive for the ball movement the Spurs exemplify, then I think you’ll see Rox fans more happy. — John

  5. H Says:

    I’m very disappointed with Yao. He’s reverting back to the passive Yao and not getting involved in the offense, especially in the fourth quarter. If he doesn’t improve, the Rockets will be out in the first round for the 4th consecutive year. That sucks!

    How could he let a lesser player like Kaman, a good player but not great, outplayed him?
    Does he even know what’s his strength and what he is supposed to do on the floor?
    Why is he holding the ball and waiting for the double-team and then pass the ball to All-brick Alston?

  6. zhao Says:

    our chinese people are proud of Yao

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