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Rockets ripped by Raptors

December 9th, 2007
by John
Yao Ming shoots a hook shot over Toronto's Kris Humphries.  The Rockets played poorly in the second half, with Yao taking only 10 shots (while McGrady shot 21) and scoring 15 points.Yao Ming shoots a hook shot over Toronto’s Kris Humphries. The Rockets played poorly in the second half, with Yao taking only 10 shots (while McGrady shot 21) and scoring 15 points in a humiliating loss, 93-80.

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.

7 Responses to “Rockets ripped by Raptors”

  1. Allen Says:

    I know that you get frustrated with the “love affair” that some of us have with Rafer Alston, but for all the other problems (T-mac’s shot selection, defense, PLAYING LANDRY) I don’t think it is a huge coincidence that it hurt us not to have a true point guard in the lineup at some point in the game. Not saying that Rafer has to be the starter or the biggest minutes PG, but we need to have him (or a player like him – not opposed to trading Alston!) around to calm the offense down and get people into their sets on time. I played basketball through AAU, and as a player its easy to tell when you have a gunner playing PG. Its not always obvious to the viewers, but it really does make a difference on the court. Plus, Francis and James were subpar in this game. I don’t think either of them has made a case to be starter yet, and Francis has really outplayed James as a backup.

    On that note, James had another stinker. When is he going to get yanked? I think a Rafer/Francis or vice versa combo is a better option if James is going to keep shooting below 38% (since that is all he brings to the table). They both can contribute without shooting well. At least when Bonzi/Battier shoot poorly they can rebound or play D.

    Hate to do this, but I got to get on Yao too. He needs to demand more shots. 10-15 shots is too low a number for a max money center, whoever it is.

    Thanks again for the updates!

    Allen — I have been saying since the 6-game losing streak that they need to start playing Aaron Brooks. I don’t think Mike James is the answer to start at point guard and haven’t advocated it. I think every time MJ has played, either Alston or Francis or Head have been handling most of the ball-handling duties, not to say he won’t handle a certain percentage of the time. After all, you have to do that to keep the defense guessing.

    All the Rockets guards aren’t shooting well, not just James. That’s why I think no one is sacred. Hard to believe we have all these guards and none of them can really shoot right now, but you can’t get rid of all of them. But if you play the percentages, you’ve got to think that James will get his shooting going again. In the meantime, he does have the ability to bring some speed and penetration into the offense. If he just kept taking it to the hoop rather than shooting jumpers, I’d be happy with that. Good things happen when you go to the rack. Even if he misses, they’ve got Yao, Hayes and Scola there to try to get the rebound for an easy put-back.

    In that third quarter when the Rockets blew that big lead, Yao got some shots, but just didn’t make them. So he is not without blame. I’m surprised he isn’t taking more easy shots — those jumpers from the elbow or the top of the key — when it’s packed in the middle.

    Thanks for your comments!

    John

  2. Jebb Says:

    Tmac still has not figured out that whenever he makes below 40% of his shot attempt with more than 20 shots attempted, Rockets will not win! If Tmac cut down his poor shot selections but rather contribute in other aspects of the game, i.e. passing, rebounding, setting-up & defense, and take ONLY good shots!!! Only THEN Rockets will be a very good team! Tmac, You don’t always need to be the top scorer in this team in order to win a ball game! How can I make you understand this!! ( 7/21 shots @ 33% , ouch! )

    In my opinion, NBA players who make millions a year (actually 7 – 9 months), yet many of them make only less than 40% of their shot attempts! For goodness sake, it is a crime for them to make that kind of money without performing. Those poor shooters are supposed to practice shootings at least 500 shots per day until they can make around 45% of their shots, period!

  3. JT in MD Says:

    Tracy’s quick shots hurst the flow of the offense. Yao needs to tell him to run the offense. I don’t think Rick will do it…

    Tracy shot 33%, Yao 50%. Francis 50%. Hayes 67%. Battier 60% Wells 50%
    Hmmm…

    Tracy went 1 for 6 from the three! Ouch… Tracy seems to be having the most difficulty understanding the offense and is often responsible for his teammates cooling off due to his lack of distributing the ball.
    Shane..where did you go? After a good start, he just seemed to dissappear

    Sixers are next…I am row 1 at the game in philly…will report on the rout (hopefully by houston!)

  4. K Chin Says:

    John,

    I have followed your site since inception – great site. I live in Toronto and have followed the NBA since 1972 (Walton’s Trailblazers , Dr J’s Sixers and McAdoo’s Braves, then Rockets and Raptors) and yesterday was my first opportunity to see Yao live and was absolutely disappointed with his performance, especially after the tease of getting 2 blocks early in the game. After a rousing welcome by a huge chinese crowd, I wanted to see Yao perform well, although I hoped for a Raptors’ win, which they did.

    The Rockets is the other team I support but almost became disenchabted these past few years when they picked up Me-Mac, Me-James and O-fer, all ex-Raptors who I would have gladly paid their tickets to leave town – yesterday’s game proved me right (although O-Fer was a scratch). Yao is the only reason I watch Houston now and despite his obvious talents, he too is most frustrating to watch – dominant in some games, invisible in others. He defers too much to his team mates and in case no one has noticed, there is a subtle point quota system for Yao among the selfish players on the team. If Yao is dominating early in games, say scoring 15 – 20 points, you will notice they (Me-Mac and Me-James are the chief culprits) would stop passing to him (using double teams or defensive adjustments as excuses) and start jacking ill-advised threes or jumpers until it’s too late when the Rockets fall behind and by then, Yao is cold and ineffective. That also happened with Mobley, Jackson, Wesley and Francis in his early years.

    Hopefully, the Rockets, who are extremely good at analysing their performances after each loss, would be smart enough to do so before games.

    Again, great site.

    K

    K, Great obeservations. Sorry it didn’t turn out to be a good game yesterday. I hope Yao and the Rockets turn it aorund or they are going to be losing fans. I hope Leslie Alexander is listening.

    Thanks,
    John

  5. Thurogood Rocketsfan Says:

    I remember in TMacs first year we started off slow. Hopefully, we can turn it around in that fashion. We also went on a 9 game winning streak that year.

    The turnaround was triggered by a trade which brought us David Wesley and John Barry. Those were “Van Gundy” type guys.

    Adleman needs to request a trade for some guys which know how to work his offense. They do not have to be super stars. Just efficient players.

    Yao stunk up the gym. As rocket fans, we beg to get rid of Rafer and as soon as we get our wish we use that as an excuse.

    The real reason why we lost is b/c the team played without passion, heart, or enthusiasm.

    Thurogood Rocketsfan

  6. Jim Says:

    Right now it’s too painful to watch Rocket’s game. I lost faith to this coach Rick A. With the current player even Jeff V could lead the team pass 2nd round. Under RA, this Rocket doesn’t looks like a team. No defense. Every one including Yao and McGrady looks worse than Jeff V. I never believed coach R A can help to bring a title to Houston but do expect him to bring better game at least. It’s not happening now. At maximum another 1 month, Rocket should know whether he is really the answer.

  7. JOKER Says:

    Hi John,

    Yesterday i saw a another Rockets based forum that Steve is bringing the ball too slow into the game. What do you think about that?
    I don’t want to say that Steve isn’t a good PG, but if you compare Steve and Rafer with bringing the ball upcourt and give signals to teammates for formations and set some plays. Then i think Rafer is at that point a better choice.
    I just want to point this out, because i get the feeling that you hate Rafer or something and never say some positive things about him. This doesn’t mean that i love Rafer too ( his shooting is making me pulling my hair out and look like JVG), but give this guy some credit.

    Other than this, i love your analyses and keep up the good work.

    Thanks for the compliment. I will watch Francis tonight and see how he brings the ball up the court. I was so stunned about Francis starting, I didn’t really pay too much attention, but they did have an 11-point lead at halftime, so it couldn’t have been all that bad.

    As I mentioned in my piece, I don’t think they played lousy in the second half because Rafer wasn’t in the game, it was because of other reasons (laziness, bad defense, etc.). I did like the fact Francis hit a couple of jumpers that Rafer would have missed, but Francis also missed 3-of-4 free throws in the fourth quarter when the game was still in reach. But Rafer might have missed those FTs, too (he has been known to do that).

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