As steady as Yao has been lately — helping the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz Wednesday night with 19 points (9-of-9 from the line) and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action — Rafer and Wafer have been almost as key to the Rockets winning 5 of their last 6 games, too.
Yao spins baseline on Utah’s Paul Milsap Wednesday night on his way to 19 points. Click here for more photos from the game.
Alston scored a season-high 23 points, including 5-of-7 three-pointers, 7-of-13 from the field, 4-of-4 from the line, 8 assists, and only 1 turnover. Wow! Rafer has been stepping up big-time in Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady’s absence.
And Von Wafer is still playing the role of Cinderella at the ball, scoring 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including a dagger of a 3-pointer with 2:32 remaining that gave the Rockets some breathing room, 94-87. The rest of the way, the Rockets hit 12-of-12 free throws in the final 2 minutes to ice it.
So let’s see…the Rockets are #5 in the league in free throw shooting (they were an incredible 27-of-28 from the line Wednesday night), they have a point guard who is playing out of his mind lately, they have consistent and athletic role players like Luis Scola (19 points on 6-of-10 shooting) and Carl Landry (10 points, 4-of-8 from the field). They have a virtually unstoppable All-Star center who is playing at an MVP level. They have an experienced backup guard who can hit the three and who has won championships (Brent Barry – 3-of-4 from behind the arc).
On top of that, their offense is moving the ball around like they did during their 22-game win streak last season, one of their best players (Ron Artest) will be rejoining the team very soon, Tracy McGrady will be playing again in a couple of games, and they have one of the biggest surprise players of the league (Wafer) who can score in bunches and shoot for a high percentage.
Finally, they have 2 very good role players — Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier — who are in shooting slumps right now, but you know they will get it going again. And when they do, watch out!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty conservative guy and don’t say things like the following off-the-cuff. But with all the Rockets have going for them again, it is not unreasonable to expect them to be playing in June.
Okay, now more about their 108-99 victory over the Jazz Wednesday night. The Rockets remind me of the Jazz a couple of years ago when they had all these new players like Ronnie Brewer and Paul Milsap, and there was no let-up when these reserves came in. It was unbelievable! That’s the way it is this season for the Rockets when phenoms like Von Wafer, Carl Landry and Aaron Brooks come into the game. There’s hardly any drop-off in intensity and energy.
For the second straight game, I’ve put together a summary of the top plays from the game on a quarter-by-quarter basis. Enjoy!
– I love the spin move that Luis Scola puts on Paul Milsap on the baseline, then leans in from under the basket and lays it in! Rockets lead 5-0.
9:45 – Von Wafer hits a long three from the top of the arc! What a sweet looking shot! 10-4 Houston
6:51 – Rafer hits a 3 behind a Yao pick. 15-10 Houston
6:13 – Wafer takes it strong to the hole from the 3-point line and lays it in over a defender. So quick, and so athletic!
5:08 – Yao is double-teamed in the post, and he spots Wafer across the other side of the court, then whips a pass out to him, and Wafer drills the 3-pointer! 20-13 Houston
4:37 – Rafer hits another 3 from behind a Yao pick, this time from the top of the arc. 23-13 Houston
2:22 – Wafer stops and pops from the top of the key and drills a two-pointer! Wow! 25-19 Houston
1:03 – Carl Landry comes from behind to pin Mehmet Okur’s layup at the basket against the glass! What a quick move! This leads to a long pass from Rafer Alston to a streaking Von Wafer on the wing for a layup! Wow, he’s so fast! Wafer has 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting! 27-19 Houston.
:37.9 – Alston drives it straight up the court after getting a rebound, follows behind Yao as they are running up the court, then turns on the jets to lay it in off the glass! 29-19 Houston.
:20.6 – Rafer steals the ball from Paul Milsap, dribbles it up the court, tries to lay it up off the glass, but misses. However, Carl Landry gets the rebound off the rim and throws it down for the slam! 31-19 Houston. That’s an 8-0 run for Houston!
The quarter was full of highlight reel plays! Houston leads 31-19. They shot 63% from the field, were 4-for-6 from 3-point range, and had 8 assists. The Rockets have now shot over 50% in the first quarter in their last 4 games, averaging 57%.
No Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko in the game is helping the Rockets.
11:27 – Carl Landry takes it strong to the hole and throws it down! But he’s called for a travel and the refs wave it off.
10:13 – Brent Barry hits a 3-pointer. 34-21 Houston
8:28 – Carl Landry kicks the ball out of the lane after an offensive rebound to Brent Barry, who drains a 3-pointer! The ball movement is contagious! 37-23 Houston.
7:56 – Carl Landry drives the ball to the hoop, stops to shake off Mehmet Okur, then elevates and throws it down one-handed over Okur! Wow! 39-23 Houston. They’re on an 11-4 run.
5:17 – Brent Barry hits his 3rd three-pointer of the game! The Rockets are 7-of-13 for 54% from three-point land.
4:31 – The Rockets pass it 7 times before Von Wafer gets the ball on the baseline and hits a jumper to make it 44-29, Houston! The Rockets are 55% from the floor!
2:44 – The Jazz score on a dunk by Ronnie Brewer on a fast break. That’s a 7-0 run for the Jazz, and now trail 44-36.
2:30 – Rafer hits another 3 from behind the arc! 47-36 Houston.
:44 – Wafer takes it strong to the hole and is fouled! He goes to the line and makes both free throws. 53-40 Houston.
The Rockets lead 55-42, are shooting 51.4% from the field, including 8-of-14 from behind the 3-point line. They have 13 assists, and 19 field goals. And they only have 6 turnovers!
Wafer is leading the team in scoring with 16 points on 6-of-10 field goals. Alston has 11 points on 4-of-7 field goals. Yao has only 2 field goal attempts, has made 1, but is 6-for-6 from the line with 8 points. Brent Barry is 3-for-4 with 9 points.
Utah is shooting 36.4% from the field. They are only 1-of-9 from 3-point land, a big difference.
6:26 – Rafer hits another 3-pointer. That’s his 4th 3-pointer. Rockets lead 67-54.
6:03 – Shane Battier strips Mehmet Okur underneath the Jazz basket, Alston picks up the loose ball, dribbles it up the court on a semi-fast break, stops at the 3-point line, and drills another 3-pointer! THAT’S HIS 5TH 3-POINTER! 70-54 Houston.
5:17 – Yao is guarded one-on-one by Okur, Yao posts him up, turns into the lane, fires, and scores! 72-57 Houston.
3:05 – Utah goes on a 9-0 run to trail only 72-66 after Ronnie Brewer hits a 3-pointer.
2:47 – Landry is fouled as he goes one-and-one on Matt Harpring, and score the basket! He makes the free throw. 75-66 Houston.
1:21 – Rafer continues his hot shooting by taking it strong to the hole and hitting a teardrop in the lane. 79-68 Houston. Rafer leads the team in scoring with 19 points.
:43 – Scola draws a charge on Mehmet Okur after he makes a strong move to the hole. Scola did a good acting job there to sell the charge.
The Jazz outscore the Rockets 31-25 in the quarter to trail 80-73 at the end of the third.
11:14 – Yao hits a jump hook in the lane Yao is shooting 54% in the fourth quarter this season. 82-73 Houston.
10:02 – Aaron Brooks takes it strong to the hole with his speed, then hits a floater in the lane, and he’s fouled! He hits the free throw, and it’s 85-75 Houston.
8:16 – Yao picks up his fifth foul. Yao checks out of the game. Deron Williams makes both free throws. 85-77 Houston.
7:58 – Battier shoots an airball.
7:39 – Brent Barry whips a no-look flip pass backwards to Luis Scola who hits a 15-foot jumper. Sweet play! 87-77 Houston.
6:58 – Deron Williams makes 1-of-2 free throws. 87-80 Houston.
6:23 – Scola hits a jumper from the elbow! 89-80 Houston.
4:13 – Carl Landry takes it strong to the hole around Paul Milsap and scores on a layup! Houston needed that one since they’re having trouble scoring with Yao out: 91-80 Houston.
3:57 – Deron Williams hits a 3-pointer to give the Jazz a ray of hope. 91-83 Houston.
3:21 – Williams goes strong to the hole and scores. 91-85 Houston. This is the closest the Jazz have been in quite some time.
2:49 – The Jazz push it strong to the hole after the Rockets miss. Brewer slams it home, and the Jazz only trail 91-87. That’s a 15-5 run for Utah. Yao checks back into the game. Shane Battier is 1-for-10, Aaron Brooks is 1-for-9.
2:32 – VON WAFER HITS A COLD-BLOODED 3-POINTER RAINBOW FROM THE CORNER! THAT SHOT WAS HUGE! 94-87 Houston. That’s the first time he has scored in the second half. 94-87 Houston.
1:59 – Luis Scola is fouled by Milsap as he pivots baseline toward the basket. Scola makes both free throws to make it 96-88 Houston.
1:42 – Okur steps behind the line and hits a 3-pointer. 96-91 Houston. That’s only his 2nd field goal on 12 shots.
1:15 – Rafer spins away from Deron Williams and takes it to the rack, but he misses a layup attempt. Williams rebounds it, but Alston amazingly is able to steal it away from him! That’s a huge steal! You rarely see that against Williams!
:49.9 – Luis Scola is fouled down low and makes both free throws. 98-91 Houston.
:40.5 – Scola leaves Okur wide open for a 3-pointer, but he misses. Rockets were lucky there. Still 98-91. Alston is fouled after the rebound. He goes to the line and makes both free throws. The Rockets are 21-of-22 from the line!
:37.0 – Scola is fouled and goes to the line and makes both free throws. 102-93 Houston.
:35.8 – Paul Milsap scores on a layup, the second one in a row! 102-95. The Jazz have dominated 54-36 points in the paint.
:34.1 – Aaron Brooks is fouled intentionally. He goes to the line and makes both free throws. 104-95 Houston.
:27.7 – Deron Williams scores on a layup. On the inbounds, Alston is fouled intentionally, and he makes both free throws. The Rockets are 27-of-28 from the line!
:12.6 – Wafer steals the ball and takes it down the court uncontested and throws it down! That seals the win!