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Rockets wrap up Raptors to win 10th straight at home

March 4th, 2009
by John

This is going to be a relatively short game summary because the Rockets play the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday against arch rival Utah in Salt Lake, and like the team, I need to “pace” myself. 😉

Wednesday night’s game is going to be a war considering the Jazz have won 8 games in a row, are only 1.5 games behind Houston, and the Rockets have won 8 of their last 9 games after they beat Toronto 107-97 Tuesday night at Toyota Center.

It didn’t look like it would be easy as the Raptors came out and hit tons of outside shots, led by #1 draft pick of 2006 Andrea Bargnani, who gave Yao fits as he drew him out to the 3-point line. That was going to be challenge for Yao, who is more comfortable parking himself in the paint. It’s not that Yao played terrible defense, in my opinion, it’s just that a 7’6″ guy can’t get in the face of someone like Bargnani who can put it on the floor and drive past him.

On the flipside, Bargnani had to defend Yao down low in the paint much of the time, and you’d think that would be no contest given Yao’s size advantage. But he started off slow, only making 1 of his first 5 shots. However, the mismatch worked in his favor over the course of the game as he hit 6 of his next 7 shots, and would finish with 20 points on 9-of-16 shots in 31 minutes. He also had 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block. But he also had his obligatory 5 turnovers.


Yao scored 20 points and grabbed 11 boards as Chris Bosh could only look on. Click here for more photos from the game.

Giving Yao a little more rest than usual was Carl Landry, who played lights out in scoring a career-high 22 points on 7-of-9 shots, hit all 8 of his free throws, grabbed 6 boards and blocked 2 shots in 31 ½ minutes.

Landry is really making an impact after having missed 4 games and then coming back against Minnesota Sunday night and scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shots. Just think if he had been healthy against Chicago to help prevent the 4th quarter choke job, the Rockets might be on a 9-game winning streak right now and a little closer to San Antonio in the standings for the Midwest division lead.

As much as the media is raving about Landry’s play, which is much deserved, Luis Scola continues to play at an amazingly high level and has turned into the player I knew he would be when the Rockets got him before last season. Scola, always fun to watch, scored on an array of shots on his way to 20 points on 10-of-17 field goal attempts, 16 boards, and blocking a shot.

Scola has now racked up 23 double-doubles this season, and has had 8 in his last 9 games.

I think Scola is so valuable, I am nominating him to be the 3rd piece of the Rockets’ “new Big 3.” After all, his fellow countryman Manu Ginobili is part of the Spurs’ Big 3 that includes Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, so why shouldn’t he? I think he’s just as deadly, but in a different way down low.

Von Wafer was huge in the fourth quarter as he scored 8 of the Rockets’ 10 points in one stretch, which included two 3-pointers in a row that gave the Rockets a nice cushion headed into the game’s final minutes. He would finish with 14 points, thanks to pushing the tempo, and also dole out 3 dimes.


Throw in Kyle Lowry’s 8 points, and the Rockets’ bench of Lowry, Landry and Wafer outscored Toronto’s bench 44-16. They also had almost a 2-to-1 advantage in the paint, scoring 60 points, with many coming from highlight reel dunks and scores by Wafer, Landry and Scola.

It’s funny that the play of these guys kind of outshined reliable Ron Artest (oh yeah, that guy!), who didn’t have a bad game at all. He scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shots, had 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He’s just become someone you can start to count on to not really have an off-night, something his predecessor at the 2-guard was known to have quite often.

The Rockets are so deep that even when two of their starters, Aaron Brooks (2-for-10 with 7 points) and Shane Battier (1-of-6 for 3 points), have down nights, it doesn’t really hurt them. There’s always someone who can come in and pick up the slack. That’s called “depth.”

Chances are the Rockets are going to need everyone to contribute to beat Utah Wednesday night on a tough back-to-back. Why does the league office have to schedule such a marquee game as a back-to-back for one of the teams involved?

At least the Rockets are younger and healthier than they’ve been in years, so it should be a very good game. There was a time just a few weeks ago where I thought they didn’t have the mental toughness to play strong throughout a game like that one. But I have a lot of confidence it will be close down to the end.

16 Responses to “Rockets wrap up Raptors to win 10th straight at home”

  1. airchina23 Says:

    Another game that I have enjoyed watching. I can't wait to see they play the archrivals tonight.

    Anyway, did you see Yao refusing to let Bargnani helping him get up after a fall? I think it had occurred either 9:30 left in the 3rd or the 4th. It was a few plays after Yao was called an offensive foul, and you could tell Yao was mad and was determined to get back at Bargnani. And he did just that.

  2. Wendy Says:

    LOL at “his obligatory 5 TO´s”. Perhaps it comes with the way he is playing, I don´t know.

    Tonight will be my 2nd sleepless-for-Rockets-night, hope the reward me with a blow-out win.

    I´m curious how we will handle D-Will. If he is shutted down, the Jazz are history. Maybe switching Shane or Ron to help?

  3. john Says:

    Not sure whether you will agree with me on this.

    I’m beginning to believe that there is more than just T-Mac in this Rockets team. I’m also beginning to convince that this team has all the right ingredients to move forward without him.They have already showed plenty of that in their last few games.

    They should build on this momentum.I love the low post combination of Yao and Luis. They can really compliment each other.

    Its proven when the likes Bosh and Andrea were covering him, Scola was there to pick up the pieces. The same goes vice versa.As for the West, it’s hard to anyone knocking the likes of Lakers and Spurs but if there is a darkhorse here my money is on the Rockets.

    I’ve just uploaded my re-cap of the game against the Raptors on my blog. Your thought and opinion is always welcome.

  4. YaoMingMania Says:

    I'll have to check the tape on that one. Thanks. — John

  5. NYCBOBBY Says:

    John this is really getting exciting to watch. A transformation of a team that wen't from mediocre to a team that you can count on exhibiting energy on the floor and racking up victories when they should. I was just thinking the same thing that you are, that Scola is consistently becoming the 3rd star of this team. Him and Yao are pretty close in double doubles this year. I'm actually worried about Artest in the long run. He is jacking way too many jumpers and a lot from long range too. He's banging them in now, but I'm afraid he's gonna fall in love with it too much when playoff time comes. I thought he kinda forced it at the end in the Bulls game. Wafer was open when he drew the double team, but he forced it anyways. But hopefully his basketball wisdom takes over at the end. What is up with Brooks? The dude is playing without confidence I sense. He is not launching shots like he use to. It almost seems as if Barkleys comments got into his head or something cause Lowry is stepping it up when he is in there. Finally, I am finally seeing Yao bounce the ball a couple of times more deep into the paint before he flips it up. Apparently someone in the Org. is talking some logic into him. He just needs to be a lil more patient when he is ready to toss it up. Like do a fake first to get his man to bite then stuff it down the hole. Oh and we needs to talk about his rebounding. John what can we do to get him to hold on to some rebounds? crazy glue?? Ok I can't be greedy. Good game good game.

  6. Bob Says:

    Yao has been slacking (a more euphoric term is not aggressive enough) on boards this season. Now that he sees (I hope) his capable teammates can take significant offensive load off him, he should be gearing to do more on defensive end and grab more rebounds. Also, his dwindling court vision needs to be expanded. Kicking the ball out to three-point shooters should not be his only option when he is double-teamed. I am having a hard time to figure out how Yao's assist number could drop so badly this season in Adelman's motion offense.

  7. YaoMingMania Says:

    Yeah, I laughed at myself when I wrote the 'obligatory 5 TOs' comment. But it's so true. I think Yao's turnovers are a function of him just not having that great of hands.

    I'm afraid of D-Will tonight, too. I don't think Shane and Ron can really handle him since they're not as quick as he is. I think it will boil down to Kyle Lowry getting more minutes against him.

  8. YaoMingMania Says:

    To improve Yao's rebounding, I think he needs to do more drills with catching smaller balls to improve his reflexes. I remember he did that kind of training when he couldn't do much on his injured feet, and I think he should do more of that.

  9. YaoMingMania Says:

    Good point about Yao's assists numbers. I'll have to watch more for that.

  10. airchina23 Says:

    Another game that I have enjoyed watching. I can't wait to see they play the archrivals tonight.

    Anyway, did you see Yao refusing to let Bargnani helping him get up after a fall? I think it had occurred either 9:30 left in the 3rd or the 4th. It was a few plays after Yao was called an offensive foul, and you could tell Yao was mad and was determined to get back at Bargnani. And he did just that.

  11. YaoMingMania Says:

    I'll have to check the tape on that one. Thanks. — John

  12. NYCBOBBY Says:

    John this is really getting exciting to watch. A transformation of a team that wen't from mediocre to a team that you can count on exhibiting energy on the floor and racking up victories when they should. I was just thinking the same thing that you are, that Scola is consistently becoming the 3rd star of this team. Him and Yao are pretty close in double doubles this year. I'm actually worried about Artest in the long run. He is jacking way too many jumpers and a lot from long range too. He's banging them in now, but I'm afraid he's gonna fall in love with it too much when playoff time comes. I thought he kinda forced it at the end in the Bulls game. Wafer was open when he drew the double team, but he forced it anyways. But hopefully his basketball wisdom takes over at the end. What is up with Brooks? The dude is playing without confidence I sense. He is not launching shots like he use to. It almost seems as if Barkleys comments got into his head or something cause Lowry is stepping it up when he is in there. Finally, I am finally seeing Yao bounce the ball a couple of times more deep into the paint before he flips it up. Apparently someone in the Org. is talking some logic into him. He just needs to be a lil more patient when he is ready to toss it up. Like do a fake first to get his man to bite then stuff it down the hole. Oh and we needs to talk about his rebounding. John what can we do to get him to hold on to some rebounds? crazy glue?? Ok I can't be greedy. Good game good game.

  13. Bob Says:

    Yao has been slacking (a more euphoric term is not aggressive enough) on boards this season. Now that he sees (I hope) his capable teammates can take significant offensive load off him, he should be gearing to do more on defensive end and grab more rebounds. Also, his dwindling court vision needs to be expanded. Kicking the ball out to three-point shooters should not be his only option when he is double-teamed. I am having a hard time to figure out how Yao's assist number could drop so badly this season in Adelman's motion offense.

  14. YaoMingMania Says:

    Yeah, I laughed at myself when I wrote the 'obligatory 5 TOs' comment. But it's so true. I think Yao's turnovers are a function of him just not having that great of hands.

    I'm afraid of D-Will tonight, too. I don't think Shane and Ron can really handle him since they're not as quick as he is. I think it will boil down to Kyle Lowry getting more minutes against him.

  15. YaoMingMania Says:

    To improve Yao's rebounding, I think he needs to do more drills with catching smaller balls to improve his reflexes. I remember he did that kind of training when he couldn't do much on his injured feet, and I think he should do more of that.

  16. YaoMingMania Says:

    Good point about Yao's assists numbers. I'll have to watch more for that.

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