As close as the Western Conference race is with only 12 days to go in the season, it was still tough to get psyched up for the Rockets-Sonics game Friday night.
Let’s see…Seattle is terrible with only 17 wins this season. They have lost 20 of their last 22 games, and they will have their worst record ever.
It was a late start for Houston fans in the central time zone with tip-off a little after 9:30pm.
It was a Friday night game, when most workers like yours truly are tired from a long work week, especially after watching another late night game the night before against Portland.
And then you’ve got other more important games on national TV taking away your attention, like Jazz-Spurs, Mavericks-Lakers, and even the Final 4 games on Saturday right down the freeway in San Antonio.
The way Tracy McGrady and Kevin Durant started the game, you’d think they were tired, disinterested, or both as well. McGrady made only 1-of-8 shots in the first half, and KD was worse: 1-for-10.
McGrady was clearly affected by a bandage on his left shoulder, still hurting after banging it in a game against Sacramento on March 24th. Only 2-for-10 by halftime, he took it off and came out much more aggressive in the second half.
Although Seattle shot 29.4% in the first half, somehow they led 41-40, thanks to 21 second-chance points by the Sonics due to terrible defensive rebounding by Houston.
McGrady’s poor shooting and Houston trailing a terrible Sonics team inspired him to take over for the second 3rd quarter in a row, just like he did in Portland the night before. He made 9-of-13 shots for 18 points in the quarter to put Houston ahead 69-54 heading into the fourth quarter, which was essentially the ballgame since both team shut down their offenses in the fourth. Houston would 10 and Seattle 12 to give the Rockets a 79-66 victory.
Seattle’s 66 points were the fewest scored by a Houston opponent all season, and was Seattle’s third lowest scoring game in their franchise history. Their 25 second half points were the fewest the Rockets have allowed in the second half this entire season.
I’m a little worried that McGrady has needed to take over in two straight games to lead Houston to victory. That’s not good when he’s clearly affected by his shoulder. He said he couldn’t extend his arm (I definitely know that feeling!), and needed a shot to help relieve the pain.
Fortunately, it’s not like he’s the only one contributing. Shane Battier‘s defense on Durant was so stifling, his worst shooting night as a pro: 2-of-17 for only 4 points. Incredible.
On the offensive end, Battier chipped in 11 points and 8 boards on 4-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-7 from behind the arc.
Bobby Jackson had a great night (13 points, 3-of-6 three-pointers) in place of Rafer Alston, who was still nursing his hamstring injury for the second game in a row.
Aaron Brooks had another great game as the backup point guard, scoring 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes, including a crazy reverse layup where he drove baseline, elevated underneath the basket, and just threw it up blind off the glass for the score! It’s good to see AB back in the rotation, although Alston is expected to play on Sunday against the Clippers.
But at the end of the game, you can’t slight even die-hard Houston fans not watching this game that ended past midnight. Houston would finish shootin 40% from the floor, with Seattle making just 30% of their shots.