After the way the Rockets half-assed their way to a sorry loss against an average Toronto Raptor team Sunday afternoon, someone high-up in the organization needs to rip this team. It most likely won’t be head coach Rick Adelman because he has proven to be too easy going to do that. Maybe owner Leslie Alexander?
In the second half, this veteran Rocket team was outclassed by a bunch of Toronto bench guys, and thoroughly embarrassed as the Raptors scored 59 points in the second half vs. just 35 by the Rocks.
You expect All-Star Chris Bosh to get his points, even if this was his first game back in 5 games because of a groin injury. Bosh scored 21 points (16 points in the second half), grabbed 10 boards, and blocked 4 shots. But when you’ve got bench players like Kris Humphries scoring 16 points, Jason Kapono scoring 10, and Carlos Delfino scoring 12, you have to do some soul-searching on if you’re really the better team or not.
The Rockets had a decent first half, leading 45-34 at halftime. But they let their guard down thinking it was going to be easy, and just sleepwalked through the second half as the Raptors went on a 43-16 run, thanks to hustling for 18 offensive rebounds for the game compared to just 8 for the Rockets.
After Yao Ming only got 7 points off five shots in the first half (thanks to McGrady taking 12), everyone knew he had to get more shots in the second. After all, if he had taken more shots in the first half, that 11-point lead probably would have been larger.
Here are the 3rd quarter lowlights that shows how they caved in and blew that 11-point halftime lead.
9:43 – Tracy McGrady hoists a stupid three that missed
9:38 – No-name Anthony Parker scores on a layup. 49-39, Rockets
9:13 – Yao misses a jump hook in the lane guarded 1-on-1 by Bosh. For some reason Yao hesitated in the middle of the shot, which made him miss badly.
8:56 – Bosh hits a jumper. 49-41, Rockets.
8:33 – McGrady throws a bad pass that is stolen
8:26 – Carlos Delfino drives to the hole and the refs call a foul on Yao. Delfino makes both free throws. 49-43, Rockets.
8:06 – Francis misses a three-pointer, but Battier grabs the rebound
8:01 – Yao misses another hook shot
7:44 – The Rockets leave Delfino wide open for a three-pointer. 49-46, Rockets.
7:20 – Chuck Hayes is called for a 3-second violation. Turnover.
6:58 – Bosh hits a turnaround jump shot. 49-48, Rockets. Toronto is on an 11-0 run.
6:36 – McGrady makes a jump shot from the top of the key. 51-48, Rockets.
6:15 – McGrady misses 1-of-2 free throws. 52-48, Rockets.
5:51 – Bosh hits a driving hook shot. 52-50.
5:34 – McGrady goes 1-on-1 and misses a jump shot
5:04 – Battier misses a three. Rockets get the rebound.
4:59 – Francis charges into T.J. Ford for an offensive foul.
4:48 – Anthony Parker makes a wide open jump shot. Battier got caught in a ‘light’ Chris Bosh pick to leave him open.
4:32 – Yao Ming travels in the lane after T.J. Ford double-teams him
3:52 – The Raptors miss 3 shots in one possession, but they grab every rebound and Rasho Nesterovic scores on the third attempt! No blocking out whatsoever! McGrady just stands there letting Kris Humphries crash the boards (which helps Nesterovic get the board), Yao isn’t aggressive to go after the rebound, and Hayes is just standing there! EVERYONE WAS LAZY ON THAT ONE! Raptors take their first lead, 54-52.
3:28 – Hayes gets blocked by Nesterovic down low.
The Rockets only scored 4 points the rest of the quarter. Additional lowlights on offense included Mike James getting blocked on a running jumper, McGrady missing a layup, Yao getting called for offensive goaltending, Yao getting called for a 3-second violation, and James missing a running jumper. The Rockets trailed 62-56 heading into the fourth quarter, and it just got worse.
The Raptors extended the lead to 80-68 with 6:48 remaining in the fourth, but the Rockets still had a semblance of a shot to get back into the game. However, Steve Francis missed 3-of-4 free throws over the next 1:26, sandwiched around a McGrady turnover. The Rockets fell apart the rest of the way and lost 93-80 after scoring only 35 points in the second half.
Don’t believe the Houston announcers when they said the Rockets were missing Rafer Alston running the offense. If you looked at where the Rockets fell apart, it was mainly their defense, bad shot selection, missed free throws, 3-second violations, bad defense, not putting a very young team away when they had them on the ropes, and getting out-hustled by a team that wanted it more.
Before the game took a turn for the worse, I had taken a lot of notes in the first half. Not that it means much now since they lost, but here’s what I wrote, as irrelevant as it seems now.
1st half thoughts:
When I first saw who was starting the game at point guard, I couldn’t believe it! It was Steve Francis! Was it possible that Rafer Alston had been relegated to the bench? Unfortunately, no, because I later found out Alston was put on the inactive list because of an injured groin. Those injuries tend to last awhile, so this is Francis’ opportunity to take over the starting job once and for all. [Francis didn’t capitalize, though, missing 4-of-6 free throws for the entire game and scoring 7 points. If he had made those throws, he would have scored 11 points, which would have been considered a success.]
The Rockets started off hot, hitting 4-of-4 from three-point territory, with Shane Battier making two treys in a row. After struggling all season with his three-pointers, we were all thinking that “Battier is BACK!” Francis and McGrady were the other Rockets who tossed in 3-pointers to help give them a 16-2 lead as Toronto started off making 1-of-10 shots. In additon, two blocks by Yao in the early part of the first quarter kept the Raptors thinking about going down low.
However, what looked like was going to be a blowout didn’t happen. The Raptors went on a 10-1 run to bring it to 17-12.
To start the second quarter, the Rockets had Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes in the lineup at the same time. Both of them played in the high post, and both Scola and Hayes threw beautiful back-door passes to Bonzi Wells and Luther Head for layups, respectively. That’s when you saw how great this Adelman offense can be, reminiscent of the old Sacramento Kings.
Scola also had a gorgeous move going 1-on-1 way out high at the top of the key on Chris Bosh to back it down low, do a couple of fakes, and get it to the hole for a layup. THAT WAS INCREDIBLE, AND IT CAME AGAINST AN ALL-STAR! I hadn’t sent that kind of mobility ever from a Rocket power forward. It was almost Kevin Garnett-esque. Man, I get chills just thinking about what kind of weapon Scola can be for this team! (if he’s used right).
Then a few minutes later, Scola threw a perfect pass to Chuck Hayes for a backdoor layup!
The Rockets opened up a 34-22 lead with the second unit in. Shortly afterwards, Carl Landry was put into the game, which was interesting that Adelman would decide to put him in. I’m all for getting the young guys some playing time, though.
McGrady started falling in love too much with 3-pointers, jacking them up “losing-streak” style. Even the Houston announcers stated how he was shooting jumpers too early in the shot clock.
As spectacular as McGrady can be many times, it amazes me how brain dead of a player he can become [Right after I wrote the previous sentence, he took it to the hole for a dunk.] That sums up McGrady fairly well – you’ve got to put up with the good and the bad. Can it win a championship, though?
One guy who didn’t disappoint was Yao. Even though he only was able to take 5 shots, he hit a gorgeous jump hook along the baseline that made the well-represented Asian crowd ooh-and-aah to make it 41-30.
A couple of minutes later on one possession, Landry really hustled to grab 5 offensive rebounds, which got the Houston bench off their feet. The problem is that he missed 3 shots on that possession. However, on the ensuing defensive possession, he threw his body to the ground to tip a ball to a teammate (his 6th rebound in 5 minutes), resulting in a fast break the other way and a McGrady layup, and a foul!
By halftime, the Rockets led 45-34. McGrady had 14 points, but what I liked is that 11 players got playing time, and all of them scored except Landry. What balance! The only problem I had was that Yao had only 7 points after taking only 5 shots, thanks to McGrady taking 12 of them.
How they could play so well in the first half, but so poorly in the second, is something that no one can figure out. It may be time to start looking for a leader who will NOT allow that to happen.