I had to work late on Wednesday night that overlapped with the Rockets-Grizzlies game. Then when I got home to watch the game on my DVR, I got sick to where I’m not able to write a full report like I normally do. But I’ll try to gut this one out.
After losing to the Grizzlies on November 13th in Memphis, the Rockets got some payback by easily defeating the Grizzlies 105-92 on Wednesday night in Houston. I was a bit concerned the Rockets would come out lethargic, similar to the last time the Rockets had 3 days off and didn’t look like they had done any preparation in a loss to Dallas on November 21st.
The big key to this victory was the re-emergence of Bonzi Wells (24 points on 11-of-14 shooting), who many people, including myself, had written off that perhaps he was going to sprial downward the rest of the season.
Bonzi was phenomenal in the second quarter when he scored 12 points, and looked like the same Bonzi who had destroyed the Spurs in the fifth game of the season. Although he had shorter guards trying to guard him Wednesday night, he still looked like a totally different player from the guy who had been missing so many shots during his slump lately.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that when Bonzi started his slump, the Rockets started losing after having gone 6-1 to start the season. On Wednesday, he miraculously got his shooting touch back, which included making many layups that he had been missing lately.
Luis Scola was also active in a very short 17 minutes, scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and being very active deep down in the paint for layups, but also scoring from nothing-but-net jumpers.
Then you have Yao who scored 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, grabbing 13 boards, and blocking 4 shots. Two of those rejections were very impressive – blocking Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay at the rim on consecutive possessions.
Offensively, I loved it in the first quarter when he beat Pau Gasol down the court and Tracy McGrady rewarded him with a pass on the dead run that resulted in a tomahawk throw-down! That’s probably the second or third time this season that Yao has beaten his defender down the court for dunks.
Yao also threw down an emphatic two-handed dunk over two Grizzlies in the second half, with a snarl after that aggressive move to show he wasn’t going to be denied! Then later in the 3rd quarter, Yao grabbed an offensive board and threw it down with authority! No Yao fan can complain about Yao’s reluctance to dominate in this game.
Finally, Shane Battier came back from his recent shooting woes by hitting 3-of-5 three-pointers, and scored 13 overall. Every time he hit those threes, it brought the house down. Everyone knows how important it is for him to those shots. It was good to see him back, and he’ll need to keep hitting those for the Rockets to win games.
Luckily with all this help from the other role players, the Rockets overcame a bad shooting night from McGrady, who scored 17 points on 7-of-22 shooting, and missed 1-of-6 three-pointers (why is he shooting so many three?). But he did get his first triple-double in quite some time, grabbing 10 boards and dishing 12 dimes, no doubt helped by Battier and others hitting their open shots. McGrady also had 2 blocks.
The Rockets also overcame a bad shooting night from, who else, Rafer Alston, who missed 3-of-9 shots (including missing 3-of-4 three-pointers). To make up for it, he did have 8 rebounds and 7 assists. But I’m still not happy with the overall numbers.
Surprisingly, even with Alston’s struggles, Steve Francis only played 9 minutes and scored 2 points. And Mike James played only 5 minutes and didn’t score.
You know you’ve got a deep roster when Francis and James combine for 2 points, and you still win fairly easily. That’s the way it should have been for most of the 9 games the Rockets lost in the previous 18 games.