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KG KOs Rockets

January 2nd, 2008
by John
Yao Ming elevates over Boston's Kevin Garnett for a one-handed jam.  However, Garnett would get the last laugh as he willed his team to a fourth quarter victory over the surprising Rockets.Yao Ming elevates over Boston’s Kevin Garnett for a one-handed jam. However, Garnett would get the last laugh as he willed his team to a fourth quarter victory over the surprising Rockets.

The Rockets were outclassed in the beginning of their game against the Celtics Wednesday night, falling behind by as much as 20 points as Boston ran a clinic against them, embarrassing the Rockets, who left guys wide open for layups.

They also got outclassed at the end of the game, getting beaten by a superstar in Kevin Garnett, who hit big shot after big shot to score 11 points in the game’s final 7 minutes.

In between, the Rockets fought hard and made it an interesting game against one of the league’s best teams. But as expected, they didn’t have a guy to step up at the end of a close game, while Boston did. It was just a matter of time before one of the Big 3 (Garnett, Ray Allen, or Paul Pierce) of the Celtics put the Rockets away, and no surprise, it was KG, who hit several jumpers in the fourth quarter to push the Celtics record to an amazing 27-3 after beating Houston 97-91 in Boston.

Meanwhile, Houston’s superstar, Yao Ming, didn’t do anything in the clutch moments of the game, partly because he was swarmed by Celtic defenders who made it difficult for him to get the ball, and partly because he hasn’t been that clutch with his shot late in games. He was 1 of 3 from the field in the fourth quarter, scoring a garbage basket at the end of the game.

I have said before that it may not be fair for Yao to be considered the prototypical go-to guy since not many back-to-the-basket 7-footers don’t have the luxury of being able to dribble much to create their own shot. It’s also easy to double-team a guy when he’s not facing the basket and is down low in the paint in a confined area, unlike KG who can move around, face up and shoot jumpers over the defense as good as anyone.

Yao also didn’t do anything in the first part of the game, starting off 2-for-11 from the field. He finally got it going in the second and third quarter to help the Rockets get back into it. But that’s when the pressure was off. When the pressure was back on again, he couldn’t really do anything. Yao would finish a disappointing 7-of-20 from the field for 19 points, 13 rebounds and 4 turnovers.

I was hoping with Rick Adelman‘s new offense that with Yao in the high post, he would have more of an opportunity to try some uncontested jumpers from the elbow late in the game. But I think there is a reluctance to bring Yao out of the paint in the clutch moments of the game because of his height advantage that can get him a pretty decent look, and he shoots for a fairly decent percentage down there. He also has more of an opportunity to grab a rebound if he misses, and if he’s fouled, he can go to the line and hit his free throws.

But there’s something about having to hit a turnaround jumper or jump hook at the end of the game that doesn’t work for Yao, and maybe for most people because it’s a difficult shot to begin with. Yao had his chances, but it’s clear that the Rockets need more than Yao to hit a big shot at the end of games. I don’t think the answer is Tracy McGrady (when he gets back from his injury). McGrady doesn’t seem to finish strong at the end of games any more. I don’t think he would have been the difference in this game.

The Rockets instead are having to rely on average shooters (at best) like Luther Head, Rafer Alston, Shane Battier and Bonzi Wells to make jumpers at the end of close games. They may make shots in the first 43 or 44 minutes of a game, but those last 4 or 5 minutes is when you really need someone with ice water in their veins to drain a shot when you need it. Right now the Rockets don’t have that guy, not even McGrady.

Given what he has shown us so far, I actually think Luis Scola could have some potential to be that guy. He’s got a nice-looking shot, can do so many things to keep the defense off-balance, and really hustles for rebounds and loose balls. But he wasn’t in the game in the final minutes to be given that chance, and to help out Yao in defending Garnett; Yao isn’t going to be able to get out to the perimeter to contest KG’s jumpers. Instead, it was Yao all by himself, which ain’t going to happen. Bad move, Adelman.

Instead of Scola being in there late, it was Bonzi Wells. Bonzi had a decent game, finishing 8-of-14 from the field for 25 points. He kept attacking the rim, as usual, and made some great plays, but also missed some easy chippies. And he missed 3-of-12 free throws, which actually isn’t bad for him. But if you’re wanting to beat the Celtics, you just about have to make all of them.

I also think Aaron Brooks could be that guy in the clutch who could make the big shot, but he only took one jumper in the fourth quarter and missed it. Before clutch time, though, I was impressed. He came up with 2 big steals that led to points, was able to get into the lane quite easily with his speed and create shots for others (2 assists), and had a nice shake-and-bake move in the lane to nail a jumper when the Rockets were struggling to score.

I know Rafer Alston isn’t that “ice water” guy, but I have to admit I was impressed with how he finally stopped shooting 3-pointers after awhile. When he did stop and started taking it to the hole, he either scored, or dished off to a teammate for a basket or a foul. If Alston could just keep doing that, I might stay off his back. He’s much more effective going to the hole, although he will clank or airball a few runners every once in awhile.

He still shot too many three-pointers in this game, making only 1-of-5, but even with those bricks, he still finished 8-of-16 from the field for 18 point. Without those 3-point attempts, he would have finished 7-of-11. Try a whole game without shooting a three, Rafer, and I might even lose the “0-fer” nickname I have given to you.

Luther Head was just “okay” in this game, hitting 4-of-11 shots, including 2-of-5 from three-point land. But for some reason, Adelman had him handling the ball late in the game AGAIN that resulted in a turnover when he tried a bounce pass to Yao with 1:55 remaining in the game and the game on the line. Why does Adelman allow Head to handle the ball late in games like that? This is the second time he’s done that late in the game, and it has backfired. Once again, he’s not a point guard.

For most of the second half, I was wondering why Garnett wasn’t playing very much as other guys like Scot Pollard and Kendrick Perkins fouled out trying to guard Yao. After Perkins fouled out, it was KG’s time. Interesting use of trying to save KG for clutch time as the Rockets were making their run.

It’s getting very late and I’ve got a lot of other work to do, so I’ll end it here. But let me know your thoughts on this question: assuming most of you agree with me that McGrady probably wouldn’t have made a difference late in this game, who is the guy who can help the Rockets get over the hump in clutch time that can be reasonably obtained in a trade?

12 Responses to “KG KOs Rockets”

  1. Jackie Says:

    I like how Yao Ming posterized Kevin Garnett with a thunderous dunk on his head! That was a mean and nasty egg layed on Kevin Garnett’s head! He got posterized!

    What’s even funny was right after Yao dunked on KG, KG turned his back and ran away just so he won’t look like he got humiliated with that posterizing dunk. Pretty sissy move with no heart! But it was too late, he already got dunked on and EVERYONE saw it. Kevin Garnett, you can’t hide it! You just got DUNKED ON by the Great Wall! And I really like how Yao gave KG a staredown right after that dunk!

  2. adrian Says:

    Hey budd..Your missing the whole point though, Yao ming’s minutes are up by 4 and again tonight he played a 40 plus minute game. Think about it, he hasn’t had a break in years, his offseason pledge to china is mandatory or he cannot play in the NBA anymore. With the Chinese national team, training camp, preseason, then the grueling NBA regular season, This chinese superstar can only carry so much on his back. He’s not hitting his shots because his legs wear out during the course of the game, so he can’t get as much lift on his hooks,turnarounds and set shots. Adelman is playing him too much, He’s a big guy, he needs rest…badly

    I can see your point about Yao getting tired as the game goes on, but he was 2-for-11 to start the game, and it wasn’t the second game of a back-to-back. So he was probably as rested as he was going to be. I don’t know why Yao has been so inconsistent with his shooting. He tends to go through those periods throughout a season. I guess he’s just like everyone else after all. — John

  3. GameNight Says:

    Very nice analysis again, John. I always come back to you for your unparallel game recaps. I thought Rockets would have been blown out by 15 to 20 points, but was so glad to see them put up quite a fight. Even with another loss, I do not miss McGrady at all, as many of the fans probably feel the same way.

    It may take another season and some trades to find that clutch guy for Rockets. Anyone with similar salary range as McGrady’s may become that guy if wearing a Rockets uniform.

  4. adrian Says:

    Oh yeah and to answer that question……this is yao’s team, and i truely believe he is capable of hitting those clutch shots, you’ve seen him do it in the past. He still has flaws in his game, he’s not aggressive enough on the block, his post position isn’t as deep as it should be. He should be catching the ball 1 ft away from the painted area. Perhaps the rockets tweak up the starting lineup..I think scola and yao can be one of the best frontcourts in the NBA someday. When yao is fronted the rockets need someone who can flash and hit the freethrow jumper or lob it to yao inside..hayes cant shoot! But he is a piece to a championship team.

    Yaos rebounding has been tremendous for the most part of the season as well, he stepped up in that category.

  5. BOBBYNYC Says:

    Sup John, long time fan of your site. It’s about time I had something to say about this team. Oh btw I’ll be at MSG for the Rockets-Knicks game next Wednesday! So anyways, I think you are right, Yao is not that prototypical go-to-guy at the end of the game. I remember when he first came into the league he would use his big man instincts and just back people up naturally, but people started to learn to pull the chair under him. Since then he has changed his style and just isn’t the same going in strong. I feel this is a big hinderence in his post up. I think he should continue to do what he was use to doing and just learn his center of gravity so he won’t worry about people pulling the chair up under him.

    As far as McGrady goes, let’s give him one more shot at it. Let’s see if the offense goes smoothly or stays sluggish when he comes back. I agree, if the team continues to slow down with his presence in there then it’s time for him to go. We need a guy with a killer instinct who is not necessarily an all star but in the mold of Ginobili or Josh Howard. Whatcha think John?

    I agree that we should give McGrady one more shot since it’s so hard to find good scorers in the league. If it doesn’t work out when he returns, then I think it will be time to find that scorer who doesn’t have some gazillion dollar contract. I’m not sure who that would be. Maybe Luol Deng, but I don’t think the Bulls will give him up. I’ll try to think of others and will post it on YaoMania when the time is right. — Thanks, John

  6. Paul Says:

    Where has Yao’s shot gone? John are you seeing the same thing I am seeing?

    Has anyone else noticed that Yao’s shot is not the same this season? He use to shoot it consistently out to 18 feet and can hit 3 to 4 shots in a row with ease. It looks really flat and weird this season not the normal soft feathery shot with a nice arch I am use to seeing.

    Here’s Yao’s shot stats the past 2 games:
    *** he shot 0 for 17 minus lay-ups, hooks, dunks

    Lay-up – hook – dunk – (missed jump shot)=total
    1. 1 – 0 – 3 – (4) = 4/8
    2. 2 – 2 – 3 – (13) = 7/20

    Yao once shot 20/20 in the China (CBA) championship game. Also his 1st season he shot almost 80% for an entire month before defenders went to hacking, shoving, kicking, and clawing Yao. I am surprised they haven’t bitten his ear yet. Anyhow it looks to me like he’s changed his shot and putting up an unusual amount of bricks this season.

    A reasonable trade for a clutch shooter? I think Mike Bibby proved his clutch.

  7. Jim From Hollywood CA! Says:

    Could not watch the game last night, but I saw the highlights. The bright spot of the night…….YAOS DUNK ON KG!!!!!!!!!!…….
    I must of replayed it like 15 times. Im glad the rockets showed some heart and battled back. It was a game that Boston could have lost.
    Good analysis John.
    I guess we need to play some sub par teams to get our confidence back.
    Go Rockets!

  8. Wilson Says:

    Yeah! Great Dunk from Yao to KG!!!
    Unfortunately, ESPN, NBA.com doesn’t show the dunk because it was Yao over KG!!!
    If it were the other way around (KG over Yao)…ESPN, NBA.com would have shown it again and again!!!

  9. jeff Says:

    Stop picking on the individual players, please. Basket ball is a team sport. Who is responsible for the team? The head coach. He cannot get away from it. Look at the US Woman Soccer Team. The head coach started the wrong goalie and lost the Championship. And where is he now? Fired, of course. Idleman insists on playing the non-scoring players together again and again; and he is still trusted with the job. That is the root of the problem.

  10. Timothy Says:

    Hey Wilson,

    Actually ESPN did showed that Yao Ming over Kevin Garnett dunk with the no-call AND 1, followed by a Yao staredown on Garnett. But guess what? The commentator said in exact words here: “Rafer Alston drives inside, dishes the ball to Yao for an easy uncontested dunk.”

    I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EARS when the stupid commentator on ESPN said that. UNCONTESTED dunk my AZZ!!! If it was anyone dunking near Yao and Yao didn’t even contest it, the stupid ESPN commentator would say “A dunk over Yao!”

    These stupid ESPN commentator needs to be smacked! The correct way to broadcast that play should be said in these words: “Rafer Alston dishes it to Yao in traffic and Yao SLAMS IT RIGHT IN KEVIN GARNETT’S FACE! WOW! Talk about being posterized by the Great Wall! KG, too late buddy! We all saw you got posterized, no need to turn around and run away just to save face. Take it like a man!”

  11. D Says:

    Hey Timothy, I agree with your sentiment. I think that the media doesn’t give Yao the credit that he deserved throughout his career. If you listened and watched Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Steven A. Smith, you will noticed that they will say that this is McLady’s team and Yao has no leadership skills to lead this team to a championship, but you won’t hear them criticize other All-Stars on a losing team. Take the Boston Celtics with KG, Pierce, and Ray Allen, before this year, each of them was on a losing team, and you don’t hear them being critize for their leadership skills.

    In the past couple years, Yao dominated Dwight Howard and Shaquill O’Neal in head-to-head matchups. I don’t hear Charles, Kenny or Steven stated that Yao is the best center in the NBA, instead they always said that O’Neal will be the best center until he retired, but this year, these three amigos quickly proclaimed Howard had taken over O’Neal as the best center.

    The media wants to emphasize any Yao’s negative plays such as the block by Nate Robinson. I think that they thought that Yao would be a stiff like Shawn Bradley, but was really surprised that a tall Chinese can play and be successful at this level, and take any opportunity to criticize his success.

    John, what are your thoughts on how the media (TNT studio) is treating Yao?

    Hi D, I haven’t been watching much of TNT this season because the Rockets haven’t been on TNT much. I’m usually either watching the Rockets or writing my report if the Rockets are playing the same time a TNT game is going on. So I don’t really have much of an opinion on how they are treating him. — John

  12. Timothy Says:

    Hey D,

    Let’s just say the Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and loud mouth ugly looking Steven A. Smith are VERY threatened by us Asians taking over their sports. That’s why they’re going out of their way and trying so hard to discredit Yao and Yi.

    And that “block” by lil wannabe thug Nate Robinson on Yao is actually a foul. It was a poke to the eye, then hack Yao’s hand and ball, so it should’ve been a foul. Anyone can poke eye, don’t matter how big or small they are.

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