One of the most questionable trades in Rockets’ recent history came back to haunt them Wednesday night when Bonzi Wells torched his former team for 20 points in the fourth quarter and 25 points overall to lead New Orleans to a 90-69 win over the Rockets. The win propelled New Orleans to a 1/2 game lead over Houston, pushing the Rockets from 1st to the 3rd spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.
As much as Rocket fans may be gloating they got one over on a division rival like San Antonio by stealing Luis Scola from them, Hornet fans may be doing the same thing toward the Rockets. Houston hasn’t been that charitable to New Orleans since providing help after Katrina.
I knew that trade was questionable at best when it happened, even if it got rid of Mike James‘ contract, because you just don’t want to help a team you’re trying to beat in your own division with a player who can play very well when motivated. By the look of things Wednesday night, they are at risk of Bonzi creating even more damage against Western Conference foes.
In addition, the Rockets all of a sudden can’t score when it counts, and they sure could use Bonzi’s low-post presence about now. I’m so irritated by the Rockets sudden inability to score (and the bench only scoring 4 points Wednesday night), I really can’t write much after their loss to the Hornets to lose first place in the West.
I’m also getting tired of no Carl Landry in the line-up because of the swelling in his right knee. As a result, they’re having to play offensively-challenged Chuck Hayes and Dikembe Mutombo way too much. And without Landry to help out, David West killed them with 23 points.
After the game, the Rockets’ announcers said the NBA had to take some of the blame for the loss since the Rockets had to play a ‘late’ game that started at 8:30pm Tuesday night (one hour later than normal), then had to fly to New Orleans and play an ‘early’ game that started at 7:00pm (30 minutes earlier). So does losing 1 1/2 hours really make that much of a difference?
The Rockets had their chances after taking a 14-point lead in the first quarter, but they didn’t have the killer instinct and let the Hornets back in the game.
Still, the Rockets had a chance to win the game entering the fourth quarter tied 59-59, but they only scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and shot 27% in the second half, and 31% overall. The ball isn’t moving, the Rockets are blowing layups, and they’re turning the ball over way too often (18 on Wednesday)
Tracy McGrady was a terrible 6-of-21 from the floor, and it appears he’s lost all the good karma he built up during the 22-game winning streak. My, how things change so quickly. Just a few days ago, Houston fans were chanting “MVP, MVP!” when McGrady stepped to the line late against the Lakers on Sunday. Now they must all be wanting to yell, “M.I.A., M.I.A!”
Rafer Alston was 4-of-13 from the field for 10 points, and Bobby Jackson (who they got in exchange for Bonzi) was 1-of-5 for 2 points. As a team, they made 2-of-19 three-pointers for a 10.5% average. WHY DIDN’T LUTHER HEAD PLAY? They also only made 11-of-17 free throws.
Now the Rockets head to Golden State for a game Friday night. I actually think the Warriors’ up-tempo offense could work in their favor since the Rockets need to get more up-tempo themselves. And the Warriors’ defense is nowhere near as good as New Orleans’ defense. But I’m thinking the Rockets have lost so much confidence in just two games, they could be on the brink of a multi-game losing streak.