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Spurs spank Rockets. McGrady shoots 23% for 13 pts

March 30th, 2008
by John
Dikembe Mutombo reacts after a referee's call Sunday afternoon in San Antonio as the Spurs blew out the Rockets, 109-88.  San Antonio shot 53% from the field, 64% in the first half while Houston only shot 40% with Tracy McGrady shooting only 23% for 13 points.Dikembe Mutombo reacts after a referee’s call Sunday afternoon in San Antonio as the Spurs blew out the Rockets, 109-88. San Antonio shot 53% from the field, 64% in the first half while Houston only shot 40% with Tracy McGrady shooting only 23% for 13 points.

If you’re a fan of basketball in the state of Texas, you had to be dumbfounded that some of the geniuses at the NCAA decided Friday night to schedule the huge ballgame game between the Texas Longhorns and Memphis for Sunday afternoon so that it would conflict with the Rockets-Spurs game, another huge basketball game in the state of Texas.

What were they thinking? There was plenty of opportunity for the NCAA to schedule the UT-Memphis game in the mid-afternoon so there would be no conflict. But nooooooo, they had to screw the basketball fans having tickets to either game from watching the other game on TV, or fans at home who wanted to watch both games without having to flip channels every 10 seconds.

Luckily for the NCAA, hoops fans in Texas who wanted to watch both games really didn’t have to face a choice since the Rockets game was essentially over as the Spurs took an early lead, built it up to 25 points, and coasted to a 109-88 win.

The Spurs started off shooting hot, making 76% of their shots in the first quarter to take a 35-24 lead. The Rockets were trying to keep the Spurs from getting into the lane and creating all kinds of problems, so they forced them to shoot outside, and the Spurs made them pay.

You’ve got to give credit to the Spurs for hitting those outside shots, especially Michael Finley who had 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting by halftime and 22 overall. Tony Parker had 13 by halftime and also finished with 22.

At halftime, the Rockets had to decide if they were going to try to change their defense or stick with their initial strategy and hope the Spurs started missing. Usually you play the percentages and hope the Spurs start missing. You can’t expect them to shoot like that the entire game.

But they just about did. The Spurs finished the first half shooting 64% and led 66-48 (their most number of points in a first half all season), and they only had 1 turnover. ABC commentary Mark Jackson was an idiot by repeatedly saying the Rockets needed to start playing better or they were going to face an early exit from the playoffs. But I believe this is one of those games where you’ve got to tip your cap to the other team because they have great players and they hit their shots.

Hitting shots is exactly what the Rockets had been doing during their 22-game win streak, and you didn’t hear announcers saying other teams sucked when they lost to the Rockets. Instead, they gave Houston credit for playing better and being the better team.

This was one of those games for the Spurs, except it didn’t hurt that Tracy McGrady had a bad shooting game. He started off strong by taking the ball to the rack 3 times in the first 12 ½ minutes for dunks. But he was only 3-for-13 from the field in the first half, and finished the game 5-for-22 for 13 points. He’s clearly going to have to play better than that.

But the Rockets had proven in the past even with Yao Ming out and McGrady not shooting well, other players could still make up for it and pull out the win. But the Spurs are just too good for that, having won their 7th game in a row.

It didn’t help that Rafer Alston finished 4-for-16 for 13 points, and 0-for-4 from three-point land.

One change the Rockets made before the game compared to what they are accustomed to doing is not starting Shane Battier. That’s only the second time that’s happened this season. Rick Adelman wanted Battier to match-up with Spurs’ sixth man Manu Ginobili.

So Luther Head started in Battier’s place, and he actually didn’t do too bad by scoring 10 points in the 1st half on 4-of-4 shooting. But that’s all he would score in the game. Maybe by not starting Battier and getting him warmed up early, it kept him from getting hot offensively. Battier would only finish with 5 points on 2-of-6 shooting.

Who knows if it would have made a difference. But let’s face it, the Spurs are tough and without Yao Ming in the middle to give fits defensively to Tim Duncan (13 points, 6 rebounds), the Rockets are at a severe disadvantage. I’m pissed the Rockets are playing with such a great handicap and the Spurs haven’t had to face any injuries to their big men. But it’s the reality.

With this huge loss and only 9 games remaining in the season, the Rockets fall 1 ½ games behind the Spurs and are 3-4 after the 22-game winning streak ended.

The game was so uneventful, probably the most exciting part of the game was the argument Jackson had with Jeff Van Gundy about who was the MVP of the league. After debating their very different lists of who they thought are the top candidates, Jackson got frustrated and told Van Gundy, “I’m so glad I don’t think like you.”

JVG took exception to that statement and called Jackson on it mat for going beyond the argument and leading it into a personal insult. Caught red-faced, the normally arrogant and know-it-all Jackson actually apologized to Van Gundy right then. I couldn’t believe it, but it made me respect him a little bit more. Having received an apology out of Jackson, JVG started to rub it in a little bit. Jackson rightfully retaliated by telling Van Gundy that after someone apologizes, you’re supposed to “let it go.” JVG responded, “You’re right.”

Isn’t that sad that this argument on-the-air was the most exciting part of the game?

The Rockets now have a day off and head to Sacramento to try to get back on track. Even if they win, you’ve got to wonder if the Rockets really have a chance in the playoffs against New Orleans, Phoenix, San Antonio, and maybe even Utah. Hopefully in a 7-game series, Rick Adelman and the players have the ability to make adjustments to counter what their opponents would do.

5 Responses to “Spurs spank Rockets. McGrady shoots 23% for 13 pts”

  1. Wilson Says:

    NO YAO=NO CHAMPIONSHIP FOR ROCKETS THIS SEASON!!!

    WITH YAO NEXT YEAR HEALTHY AND RESTED, THE ROCKETS WILL WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR SEVERAL YEARS TO COME!!!

  2. Daniel Says:

    I agree John. It was a sad day for a lot of Texas sports fans. I knew we couldn’t beat Memphis though.

    The Rockets should be able to win their next 4 games. If the Suns and/or Lakers lose a game during that stretch and the Rockets win all four then they could move up in the standings. It’s not a totally crazy idea that the Rockets could finish up towards the top of the west. That could leave them in a matchup against Dallas(minus Dirk), Denver, and Golden State. The Rockets could beat all 3 in the playoffs and at least have some playoff success. The Suns and Spurs would destroy the Rockets with their size, and LA, NOLA, and Utah would probably beat them in a tough series.

    That might be a bad idea. Wilson is already angry that the Rockets have a better record with Yao out than with Tracy out so them winning the playoffs might put him on suicide watch.

  3. AirChina23 Says:

    Despite what seems to be his arrogant remarks on air, Mark Jackson is one humble human being though. I enjoy listening to them when they announce the Rockets games. It’s like Van Gundy turning into a different person when he’s not coaching. He’s always tense when he’s coaching (understandably so), but he comes up with the most random stuff to say when broadcasting.

    You’re right. I think JVG is a great announcer. I learn something from him every time I listen to him. I think he’s a better announcer than coach, which is saying something. I think Mark Jackson is mediocre. How he got the job is beyond me. He doesn’t really say anything interesting, throws too many platitude toward coaches and players fawning over them with man love, says the same thing over-and-over again, or uses bravado in his voice to make it sound like what he says is gospel. Over time he will be off-the-air announcing national games, just like other announcers who no longer announce games on ABC, like Tom Tolbert, Matt Goukas, Bill Walton, etc. — John

  4. Wesley Says:

    At least our boy Luis Scola outplayed Tim Duncan!

  5. Red Rowdy from far... Says:

    I rarely switch chanell when Houston is playing but I did it this time, I couldn’t watch that trash, that was embaressing.

    But do you think fatigue is setting in now? T-Mac looks very tired so as the other players, Scola really hustled all night but he had extra motivation because he wanted to prove that Spurs are wrong by trading him…

    Nevermind, this was one of the worse games this season, I’m so sorry they couldn’t match with San Antonio but hey, look at the bright side we all thought it was going to be worse this season when Yao fell down to injury, damn we’re so unlucky.

    Btw, by clearing cap space with trading Mike James and Bonzi and their fat contracts and giving away Kirk Snyder and waiwing GG they have enough cap space this offseason to bring some good players! Maybe one, all star caliber ala Gasol to L.A.? What do you think about that, plus comeback of YAO AND FRANCIS?

    I don’t think they are physically tired more than other teams since they had 3 days off before Sunday’s game. Every other team is playing the same schedule. If anything, they may be mentally tired still from the 22-game winning streak.

    Yeah, the Rockets are so unlucky with the Yao injury.

    I don’t think Francis can come back and be effective. I think he’s past his prime by far. It will be interesting to see who they can sign in the off-season. Their biggest need is backup center who can fill in when Yao is not playing, can give him more rest to take the pounding off his feet, score, and play great defense against Duncan, Bynum, etc. But centers like that are hard to find. — John

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