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Rockets gift to Bulls a sobering reminder

March 1st, 2009
by Ren

This post is brought to you by Ren…

For 6 consecutive games the Rockets had found a way to evolve from their charitable ways—meaning they stopped giving away games in the 4th quarter. That streak is no more with a souring 105-102 defeat to the Chicago Bulls.

For 43 minutes the Rockets played dominant basketball and built as much as a 17 point lead with less than 6:00 minutes left in the game. But they never actually kept the Bulls from doing what they wanted to on offense; the Rockets were just somehow able to keep outscoring Chicago. It seemed like every time the Bulls made a run, the Rockets would follow up with a better one. Until that is, they stopped scoring the ball altogether.

Yao Ming scored 17 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and had 3 blocks
in Chicago. But it wouldn’t be enough in a heartbreaking loss.
Click here for more photos from the game.

The last 5:00 minutes of this game should be a reminder to all of us fans that Houston is not that good. Artest was hot from the perimeter all game but he let it negatively alter his game in the long run by eschewing his Bogart ability on the drive and in the low post. He forgot he needed to get it done from the free throw line—the exact thing Houston had used to their advantage in their crunch time wins.

After the Bulls whittled the Rockets lead down to 12 late in the game, Houston put Yao back in the game only to not give him a single touch in the low post in the final 5:00 minutes. Traditionally, with a lead down the stretch, you win the game at the line but you can’t get there if you can’t get the ball in the low post. Yes, the Bulls did a great job of fronting Yao and playing a man behind him to discourage the lob but Houston gave up on Yao way to early in the possession, which is where Aaron Brooks comes in.

For the first time, we see how Brooks’ weaknesses can affect the outcome of a game. In the situation the Rockets were facing, one could expect a veteran point guard to force the offense through Yao or push Ron Artest into the low-post. Instead, Brooks deferred to a perimeter-happy Artest—who was understandably feeling it from distance—but he never looked twice at Yao on the block and he never went down there himself. They lost sight of what they needed to do to win and that’s always the point guard’s fault. Or the coach.

Then there’s the defense, where we finally saw a guard who could really take advantage of Brooks’ diminutive stature. Rose is just as fast and much bigger—a bad combination for Brooks. He just couldn’t do anything with him. Rose got wherever he wanted whenever he wanted and he made big shots. It was tough to watch. 16 fourth quarter points and all but the final two came against Brooks. Lowry received the honor of subbing in late (for defense no less) against a red-hot Rose only to have the game’s go ahead basket dropped on his watch. Poor execution again in the Rockets final possession sealed it for the Bulls.

I guess we all started to think the Rockets were finally beyond this—think San Antonio, think Philadelphia—but it seems as if they needed another little reminder that 6 home wins is no reason to believe they are infallible. With every game crucial in maintaining a home court bid for the first round, they just can’t afford to forget too much more.

16 Responses to “Rockets gift to Bulls a sobering reminder”

  1. Jeff Says:

    The Head Coach should account for this ridiculous loss and come up with a solution. The GM, if not satisfied with the solution, should assume the duties of the Head Coach who should be fired as soon as possisble, as the play-off is approaching. If the GM does not want to double up the duties of the Head Coach, turn to JVG.

  2. pryuen Says:

    Thanks Ren. An excellent game summary.

    Sometimes as Forrest Gump's Mom said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”, so who would expect, after beating Portland TrailBlazers and thrashing of Cleveland Cavaliers, when you think they have turned the corner, then they screwed this up again big time, throwing away a 17-point lead 4Q, and lost to Chicago Bulls??

    They seemed to forget what they did best in the past 6 games, and all of a sudden, turned themselves into a stupid jump-shooting team with very little penetration and ball movement, particularly in 4Q. Of course, Big Yao was physically tangled by Brad Miller's fronting, but with more ball movement and passing and penetration, it will create space for him.

    And if a sports writer like Jonathan Feigen can also see how a team can break the fronting issue, WHY can't Rick Adelman and his coaching staff figure that out??


    And during that 5-minute 23 ~ 3 drought, our Mr. Rick Adelman just watched and let the diminutive Aaron Brooks got busted, bullied and ate dust by the quicker and stronger Derrick Rose, and let the ghost of T-Lack get onto Ron Artest, bricking consecutively his shots out from the 3-pointer land, and did nothing !!!

    I counted it…..Out of the last 11 offensive possessions, Ron Artest got 8 of them…..hitting one of them, missing 7 of them, all 3-pointers or mid-range jumpers.

    Why not sub-in Kyle Lowry for the clueless Aaron Brooks?? Why the guards all forgot about penetrating into the lane, like Kyle Lowry or Von Wafer were doing in 3Q??

    And since the Rockets were out-rebounded in that last stretch of the 4Q, and Big Yao pretty exhausted towards the end, why was Deke Mutombo not sent to play for defense/rebounding???

    Pretty disappointed by this choker/heart-breaking loss.

  3. Luckyme Says:

    I have the same question – why the hell was Deke not sent out to relief Yao when the latter was apparently exhausted? Wasn't he signed to be a backup to Yao? This was not the only game this had happened.

    This game was like a nightmare – we all hoped that the era of roller-coaster was history. But no.. it is alive and well! Of course we should not expect them to win every game. But beating top teams like Boston and Cleveland, and then losing to Memphis and the likes really really hurts. It adds credibility to what T-mac and Barkley and co. were saying – the Houston Rockets is indeed an average team.

  4. Vince Says:

    A healthy T-Mac would've drove in the lane for fouls. For all you guys that think this team is better without him you are dead wrong. Nice post by Ren, it would've been torture to read if John wrote this entry.

  5. YaoMingMania Says:

    John here. “McGrady drive the lane for fouls?” What planet have you been on? Ha! He would have jacked up 3s like he always does. The last time he drove the lane for fouls was a couple of years ago. And even then, he'd miss 1 or 2 free throws.

  6. Wilson Says:


  7. Vince Says:

    Like I said… a healthy T-Mac. Didn't see anyone complaining about T-Mac during 2nd half of last year. You're just like everyone else on this site, thinking you are GM+Coach+Trainer+Owner. Nice to see all the support by the fans when things get tough… all you people complaining now will jump back on the bandwagon after they win a few more games again and jump right off when things get tough.

  8. YaoMingMania Says:

    Well, I actually didn't complain last night because Ren covered the game for me, and Ren's post was very diplomatic. Now as far as the commenters on this site, you should probably address it with them directly. There's a little “reply” link under each post where you can respond to each fan's comment directly.

    For the record, McGrady only played in like half of the games during the 22-game winning streak last year. And this isn't really a “blind fan” site like you might want it to be. It's a “smart, thinking fan site” where we applaud them when they are playing well, and hold players and coaches accountable when they aren't. If you'd like a Kool-Aid drinking site, I'm sure there are plenty of sites out there where the fans are like lemmings and blindly believe everything they are told, or let the players do whatever or say whatever they want, only to have the team never do anything (Clippers?).

  9. James King Says:

    Remember this is NBA. No team is perfect. Every dog has its day. Don't feel so sorry about a single loss. Remember Lakes just got slammed in Denver the other day.

    Move on, Rockets! I believe you can prove that you can and you will be a champion contender right in this season.

  10. Wendy Says:

    To Vince:
    You are annoying. Why bother coming if you feel tortured by Johns writing?

    On the game:
    I hope ths was an abberration by Artest. It's not the los that bothers me, sh*t happens. It's how it happened: by Ronron happily firing away, which is BTW not the first time this season he completely disregard the offense.

  11. YaoMingMania Says:

    The one saving grace to Ron-Ron firing away was after the game, he said, “I take the blame for the loss” and he said it seriously unlike McGrady last year when he kept saying, “It's all my fault” numerous times as a joke. Although Ron showed poor judgment last night with his shot selection, the fact he takes full responsibility is encouraging. There's not much more one can ask for other than to hope he doesn't do it again.

  12. Shawn Says:

    disgusting loss. Rockets need to find a way to give Yao the ball or make them pay when they sandwitch Yao down in the post.
    Vince, McLady plays like a 50 year old on the court, god knows when Knee-Back will be 100% Healthy again.

  13. Vince Says:

    Haha… “Smart thinking fans” would actually give constructive criticism. I’m glad Yao Ming had the sense to pick a true fan to go to Beijing last summer. Not someone that’ll backstab the team like 80% of the people here. I’m not just trying to defend T-Mac, the Yao haters are just as worst.

  14. pryuen Says:

    A healthy T-LACK??? When???

    Ever since he joined the Rockets, he had yet a 82-game full season.

    The following were the games he played for the Rockets in the past 5 seasons:

    04 ~ 05 78 games
    05 ~ 06 47 games
    06 ~ 07 71 games
    07 ~ 08 66 games
    08 ~ 09 35 games

    In fact he was/is an injury-prone player even back at the days when he played for Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic.

    Yeah he used to penetrate, drive the lane for dunks for fouls…..but that was looooooooooooooog gone. He had been downgraded to just a very mediocre jump-shooter for the past 2 to 3 years as a Rockets.

    Fans were criticizing for the loss, because they're afraid the ghost of T-LACK will be attached to Ron Artest, turning him into just another egocentric me-mine-my player who put personal glory, high stats ABOVE the team, and forgot what the Houston Rockets was/is good at.

    The Rockets will never achieve greatness if they are just a dumb-stupid run-and-gun, jump-shooting team. They were/are a team designed and built and excelled in half-court offense and defense, and built around Yao Ming as the nucleus/core. Go away from and ignore Yao Ming as the main go-to-guy, they are destined to doom.

  15. YaoMingMania Says:

    It was a lottery. Don't think Team Yao “picked” you.

  16. YaoMingMania Says:

    It was a lottery. Don't think Team Yao “picked” you.

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