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Without Yao and Landry, streak ends to Celtics

March 19th, 2008
by John

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.

  • Joseph

    Well, EVERYONE in the whole world saw it tonight. Rockets can’t win big without their best player, Yao Ming. Without Yao, Rockets won’t go far. Watch, they’ll lose again in the 1st round of the playoff before Yao is not playing.

  • Joseph

    Typo. Correction:

    Well, EVERYONE in the whole world saw it tonight. Rockets can’t win big without their best player, Yao Ming. Without Yao, Rockets won’t go far. Watch, they’ll lose again in the 1st round of the playoff BECAUSE Yao is not playing.

  • http://www.thunkonline.com JT in MD

    Thanks to the Rockets for a great run, tons of fun..
    BUT this was a serious matchup problem for the rockets right from the start. Boston took Mcgrady out of the game by aggressively doubling him everywhere. He couldn’t figure it out.
    We really missed that extra dimension to the game plan, specifically the dominant low block play from Yao. We had nobody who could bother Garnett on offense and no one to make him work on the defensive end.
    Landry was also sorely missed last night.
    The effort was very good, but the rockets did not have the firepower on the court to beat the leagues best team…

    (ps- thanks to john for running a great website!)

  • Max

    I hope the Rockets won’t get a losing streak of 0-3 or something this week, that wouldn’t be good for the team spirit. I hope they still have energy and hope left after this tough matchup for the Hornets tonight. Who knows, maybe the rox will win a couple games again after this difficult week.

    Gr,

    Max (Netherlands)

  • John Teng

    22 is an amazing accomplishment. let’s see how they recover against the next few teams. The Rox were exposed without Yao, though, which underscores the fact that most of the ppl on this board still believe the Rox will only go so far in the playoffs.

  • Wendy

    first!
    So, the streak is over, let’s look forward: how about making another streak :)
    I just think, in the second half, the team really run out of gas, as John said. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep your focus so strong as during the streak, and it shows. Top to bottom, starting from T-Mac.

    But don’t forget! The lst time I checked, we are still tied for first place in the WC! I think, even the Celtics got blown out once or twice during this season, can someone please remind me?

    Go Rockets!

  • Jude

    James Posey is one of the most underated defenders, and K.G is a beast on the defense end. Both Posey and K.G can defend multiple positions one-on-one, and are also great team defenders. Tom Thibodeau has done a phenomenal job for the Celtics and I hope he would get a head coaching job somewhere next season. He really deserves a shot. I follow the Celtics – because I am from Boston, and I also like to watch the Rockets – because I am a fan of Yao. I felt disappointed when Tmac was out the first time these two teams met in Boston. The game was close. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about how a healthy Yao could help the Rockets now because it is depressing. Hope the Rockets get C.Landry back soon, and start a new winning streak.

  • D

    It is really amazing that the Rockets won ten straight games after Yao went down. Regardless of the caliber of the opponents, when you looks at the Rockets’ lineup with Chuck Hayes and Mike Harris, these guys didn’t even make the team last year.

    I wish the Rockets all the best, but I just can’t see how they would get out of the 1st round. If TMac have an off-night, who is the next guy that they can rely on to score. They don’t have an inside game. They’re all essentailly jump shooters. Other than TMac, they don’t have anyone commanding doubled-team. For top eight teams in the Western Conference, except the Rockets, each team has a least two scoring weapons. Lakers – Bryant and Gasol; Phoenix – Nash and Amare; Utah – Williams and Boozer…

    With that said, I’ll be rooting for the Rockets.

  • Luckyme

    Well, we cheered our heart out, and enjoyed every minute while it lasted. The emotional high must be hard to sustain. I will not be surprised if some of the players gave out a sigh of relief at the end of the game.

    Now that they have proven they could be a very strong team (during the streak) with superb team effort and everyone believing in himself and in their teammates, they should regroup and focus on the playoff. They may not win every game from now on, but they should not let this single loss demoralize them.

  • Kaolin

    Watching the game, it still felt like if the Rockets had Carl Landry, they would have a good chance of beating the Celtics. They lost control of rebounds and missed a lot of shots around the basket, while Landry would have helped in either category. Now the streak is broken, probably their spirit would be down a little, but there is reason to believe that they can keep winning like before. Go Rockets!

  • richard

    is ok that the winning streak is over….hey, we are still number 2 in NBA 60+ history..

    regardless of what happens this season, i am looking forward to next season because when yao comes back, IT’s TIME! — the real time

  • Wilson

    Wow!!!Rockets won 22 games in a row!!!
    For all those Rockets fans that say that Yao should be traded or that the Rockets are better without him…well now you know!!!
    This is basically the same Celtics team that beat the Rockets by 4 points in Boston in January with Yao in the line up (I still remember the facial that Yao game to Garnett in that game!!!).
    Without Yao…Rockets lose by 20 in Houston!!!
    It was great ride for the 22 in a row…but without Yao, the farthest the Rockets can go in the playoffs is to the Western Conference Finals!!! That’s it!!!
    Wait until next season when Yao is back healthier, stronger, and more determined and the Rockets will win the NBA Championships for several years to come!!!

  • Wendy

    What is going on here? Just like tonight, we played well for 1 1/2 quarter, then play bad the rest of the way, this time even throwing away a 17-point lead against NOLA.

    All old habits return: collaps, jacking up bad shots (R. Alston and T-Mac)…
    I don’t think it’s just because of the end of the streak, where is our mental strenght and team effort from the streak?

    I know, just a two-game skid, but we cannot afford this.

  • David

    I’m sure you guys have watched the post-game interview with Tracy. ESPN described him,”strangely, Tracy seemed relieved to lose this game to Celtics”. Then you must remember what he commented before the game, “oh previous meeting we lost to Cs because of one important reason-i did not play in the game. Yeah, we should win this game at home as I am playing.” I got a bad feeling after he said these shit before the game. He got cocky obviously. True enough he flopped and Rockets got beat bad.

    It’s all Tracy now. Without Yao, this team is out of gas now.

  • AirChina23

    Chill, guys, it’s normal for the Rockets to blow a couple of games after their winning streak is over. It is indeed mentally draining, even though they don’t want to admit it. They will get back on their feet and make a push in the playoffs.