Just when you think the Rockets are done losing to mediocre teams (like Memphis, the Clippers, the Wizards, etc.), they end up losing to a bad Indiana team (107-102) for the second time this season. Yep, folks, the Rockets were swept this season by a 15-27 team in the Eastern Conference. Embarrassing.
Sure, Yao banged his knee in the first half (it’s not serious, he’s day-to-day) and he didn’t play in the second half as a precaution. But still, this is a tough loss to take, even with “The Big 3” of Yao, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest out of the lineup.
Before Yao exited the game, he wasn’t having that great of a performance. In 17 minutes, he was only 2-for-7 for 8 points (blocked twice by Danny Granger in the game’s first 2 minutes), and had 3 turnovers. But him not being in the game in the fourth quarter left a big gaping hole down low on defense.
Yao Ming winces in pain during the Rockets-Pacers game. Luckily, his knee injury isn’t serious (x-rays were negative), and he’s day-to-day. Click here for more photos.
The Rockets’ defense was pretty bad most of the game, allowing lots of easy baskets around the rim. The Rockets’ young guys of Von Wafer, Carl Landry, Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks may be great scoring threats, but they still have lots of work to do with the coaching staff in not blowing defensive assignments.
Even then, though, the Pacers still shot a poor 39.3% from the field, which was lower than Houston’s 43%. But it just seemed the Rockets couldn’t stop the Pacers when it really counted.
Scola, though, was fantastic in the fourth quarter, helping bring the Rockets within striking distance after the Rockets had whittled a 17-point deficit down to single digits. With Yao out of the game, Scola scored 15 points in the fourth, and 25 overall. He did miss 4-of-11 free throws, though.
Carl Landry was very good with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, and Rafer Alston was decent with 17 on 7-of-15 shots, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. But he had 6 turnovers and was 1-for-6 from three-point land.
The Rockets almost pulled off a miracle comeback by pulling within 4 points late in the game, but they couldn’t get stops on D. You can read how much of it played out, with key plays included in the play-by-play below.
5:52 – Wafer makes a sweet move by attacking the basket, suspended in mid-air as Jeff Foster was coming his way to contest the shot, hesitated, then lays it in off the glass! Sweet! 14-10 Rockets
Yao hits a jumper over Foster (made the crowd roar) then Wafer hits a jumper, and it’s 18-10 with about 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Carl Landry hit a jumper at the end of the first quarter to give the Rockets a 24-21 lead.
Rafer is 4-of-5 from the field, and Wafer is 3-of-6.
Yao played all 12 minutes of the first quarter, but Rockets trainer Keith Jones was working on his knee between the 1st and the 2nd.
11:04 – Brooks penetrates into the lane, then throws a sweet bounce pass to Landry on the baseline, who throws it down! 25-23 Houston.
10:23 – Landry hits another jumper from the top of the key! He’s really showing Purdue fans in the region what they’re missing. 28-25 Houston.
8:05 – T.J. Ford blows by Aaron Brooks with a sweet move to the basket for a layup, and makes the crowds ooh and aahh. 30-29 Houston
The Rockets are hurting on offense without Yao in the lineup. Landry is taking more difficult shots as a result.
5:15 – Chuck Hayes goes to the free throw line, makes the first, then MISSES THE IRON AND HITS THE LEFT SIDE OF THE BACKBOARD! Pacer players are laughing on the bench, and even McGrady on the Rockets’ bench is flabbergasted.
3:49 – Yao scores down low in the post on a pivot move. 40-33 Indiana
3:05 – Travis Diener hits a three. Indiana now leads 43-33. Pacers are on a 16-3 run
2:54 – Rick Adelman picks up his first technical of the season. He’s pissed that Yao is being officiated unfairly.
The Pacers take a 50-40 lead into halftime. They outscored the Rockets 29-16 in the second quarter. The Pacers are on pace to score the number of points they average per game – 101.
The Rockets shot only 36.4% from the field and 6-of-9 from the line. 10 turnovers (3 by Alston and 3 by Yao) that led to 14 Pacer points is way too high. Meanwhile, the Pacers shot 43.2%, only 5 turnovers that led to 2 points by the Rockets, and 12 assists (double Houston’s 6).
Alston and Landry have 9 points each, Yao has 8 on 2-of-7 shooting, and Wafer has 6.
8:39 – T.J. hits 2 free throws, extending the Pacers’ lead to 59-42. Rick Adelman buries his face in his hands in frustration.
6:58 – Wafer makes an awesome move to the basket, exploding into the lane, elevating, and banking it in off the glass. 61-48 Pacers.
6:10 – Landry hits a baseline jumper after Alston gets into the lane and dishes to Landry. 62-50 Pacers.
5:37 – Mike Dunleavy throws a bad pass that’s stolen by Wafer, who then jets down the court and goes coast-to-coast for a layup, and he’s fouled! Wafer goes to the line and makes the free throw. 62-53 Pacers. Houston is on a 9-1 run! They’re back in it!
5:00 – Carl Landry blocks a hook shot from Rasho Nesterovic off the glass (borderline goaltending). The rebound comes down to Jeff Foster, who takes the ball strong to the hole, AND LANDRY DRAWS THE CHARGE FOR A PACER TURNOVER! GREAT SEQUENCE BY LANDRY! 64-53 Pacers.
3:06 – After missing 2 free throws on a previous possession, Scola drills a long jumper. 67-59 Pacers.
1:11 – Brent Barry hits both free throws to make it 70-61, Pacers.
:52.1 – Barry hits a three-pointer after a nice dish from Alston. 70-64, Pacers. The Rockets have closed it within 6 points!
11:17 – Brent Barry hits a three! 74-68 Pacers
10:46 – Luis Scola posts up Troy Murphy, then spins baseline and lays it in off the glass! Landry 74-70 Pacers!
10:23 – Brooks penetrates into the lane, breaks the defense down, then dishes it to Landry cutting across the lane on the other side, and throws it down! 76-72 Pacers
10:04 – Troy Murphy hits a 3-ponter. 79-72 Pacers.
8:21 – Aaron Brooks dribbles around for about 14 seconds, but then eventually breaks down his defender, attacks the basket, lays it off the glass for the score, and he’s fouled! Wow! He looked like Curly Neal on that play. Brooks makes the free throw, and it’s 79-75, Pacers.
9:05 – Rockets don’t block out Troy Murphy, who follows a missed layup attempt for a slam dunk. 81-75, Pacers.
8:58 – Aaron Brooks takes it strong to the hole and is fouled. He makes both free throws. 81-77 Pacers.
8:45 – Jeff Foster gets the ball easily in front of the rim and scores. WHERE’S THE ROCKETS’ DEFENSE? 83-77 Pacers.
7:08 – Brooks breaks down the defense again and dishes to Scola along the baseline who lays it in! 86-79 Pacers.
5:48 – Danny Granger hits a long bomb 3 feet behind the 3-point line. What a dagger! 91-81 Pacers.
3:55 – Wafer picks up a loose ball, pushes it up the court fast, dribbles into the lane to draw a defender, then dishes to Scola for a layup! Sweet ball movement! 93-86 Pacers.
3:41 – Rockets defense collapses and Jeff Foster gets an easy dunk! 95-86 Pacers. The defense has been pathetic!
3:24 – Scola hits 2 free throws. 95-88.
2:20 – Alston shakes and bakes in the lane and lays a difficult shot off the glass. 97-90, Pacers.
1:44 – Scola posts up Troy Murphy, then spins baseline and lays it in! 97-92, Pacers. The Rockets still have a chance!
1:26 – The Pacers miss on a very important possession, but the Rockets fail to get the loose ball when it’s tipped. Not much time left in the game. Then with 7 seconds on the shot clock, Alston fouls T.J. Ford (looks like almost intentionally, which was STUPID!). Ford hits both free throws. 99-92 Pacers.
1:00 – Alston goes one-on-one, drives into the lane, and lays in a difficult shot. 99-94 Pacers.
:26 – After Alston misses a layup, the ball is tipped out to Von Wafer WHO DRILLS A 3-POINTER! IT’S 99-97 PACERS AND THE ROCKETS STILL HAVE LIFE!!
:25.5 – Scola fouls Jarrett Jack intentionally, sending him to the line. He makes both FTs. 101-97 Pacers.
:18 – Von Wafer drives from behind the 3-point line and goes up for a one-handed jam, but Danny Granger blocks it! THAT BLOCK AGAINST WAFER WAS HUGE, BUT IF HE HAD TRIED TO DUNK IT WITH 2 HANDS, HE MIGHT HAVE SCORED! If he had scored, it would be a 2-point game. Instead, T.J. Ford is fouled, goes to the line, and hits both FTs. 103-97 Pacers.
:14.4 – Aaron Brooks puts up a floater in the lane and scores. 103-99 Pacers. On the inbounds play for the Pacers, Brooks fouls T.J. Ford before the ball is inbounded. That means Ford will get to shoot a free throw, and the Pacers will have the ball. Ford hits the FT, making it 104-99 Pacers.
:13.3 – Mike Dunleavy is fouled intentionally, and he goes to the line and makes 1-of-2 free throws. 105-99 Pacers.
:5.0 – Shane Battier hits a three-pointer! 105-102 Pacers. Rockets foul T.J. Ford intentionally. He hits both free throws, and that’s the ball game.