I’ve always felt if you’re going to lose a big game, it feels better to lose big. That way you don’t tear yourself up about how one play here or there could have been the difference in the ballgame. A good shellacking can also get you extra motivated to improve your weaknesses.
That’s what happened Tuesday night as Boston blew out the Rockets in the third quarter and cruised to a 94-74 victory.
The Celtics’ defense was outstanding on Tracy McGrady, who didn’t attack the rack much in this game like he had been doing during the streak.
McGrady gave major props after the game to their defense, coached ironically in part by former Rocket assistant coach and defensive stalwart Tom Thibodeau. I was impressed the Celtics decided to play McGrady one-on-one most of the time, with former Rocket (and one of my favorites) James Posey manning up against him far away from the basket.
You may remember Posey being instrumental to Miami’s championship run a couple of seasons ago. Regardless, it would have been nice to see McGrady take it strong to the hole and draw some fouls, even if they were going to be hard fouls.
Instead, he only took 11 shots (mainly jumpers) and only made 4 of them for 11 points.
This game made it clear that Yao Ming and Carl Landry’s absence in the paint hurts immensely.
Any fan who was questioning if the Rockets are better without Yao got their answer Wednesday night. Those Yao fans who have been rooting lately in the comments section of this site for the Rockets to lose because Yao isn’t around finally got their wish after 10 wins in a row without Yao.
There’s no sense going into the details of this game, other than to say the Rockets shot poorly in the second half, seemingly running out of gas after their exhausting 22-game streak by only shooting 33% after halftime. I wonder if the players are somewhat relieved the streak is over and didn’t end it to a poor team, which would have been embarrassing.
The Celtics are very good. I think they’re even better than when the Rockets faced them earlier this year when it took a late push led by Kevin Garnett to pull that game out. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in losing this game, especially since the Celtics have won something like 11 of their last 12 games, beat the Spurs the night before in San Antonio, and I believe are now 7-0 against a very tough Southwest Division (Spurs, Hornets, Rockets, Mavericks). Although they’re in a weak Eastern Conference, I pick them to win it all.
Hopefully the Rockets will feel rejuvenated against the Hornets in New Orleans Wednesday night. And if Carl Landry can play, that should give them another shot of confidence that their inside scoring issues might get addressed. But if Landry continues to miss games, that could be a bigger loss than losing to the Celtics.
I read the Rockets worked out long-time NBA veteran center Dale Davis and may sign him. I think that’s a smart move to fill the spot left open by the Rockets not opting to sign Justin Williams to a 10-day contract. He’s probably the best the Rockets can get. I’ve got to think he has a few minutes a game left in him. I always liked how tough he was. He would fit in nicely.
Before closing the chapter on this streak, I’d like to commemorate it by restating some shockingly favorable comments uttered by Charles Barkley before the game on TNT:
“I gotta say something. I’ve been IN THE NBA since 1984 and the Rockets’ streak is the second-best thing I’ve ever seen. I consider when the Bulls won 70 games, I was like, wow, there’s no NBA team that can win 70 games, but to win (22) games, this is remarkable and I’m going to enjoy it.”
Continuing to show his respect to the Rockets, later Barkley said:
“But let me tell you something, I’m excited about this game…I didn’t think I’d ever see a team win 20 games in a row.”
So let’s say bye-bye to the streak. It was an awesome run, and we’ll never forget it. I’m just grateful the Rockets were able to achieve getting the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. That’s all I asked for once this thing reached 18 games in a row. And beating the Lakers Sunday on national TV was ‘gravy’ that showed the rest of the country the Rockets are for real.