The fourth quarter of Rockets-Suns game was one of the most exciting fourth quarters of regular season basketball I have seen in a long time, all which culminated in a 116-112 thrilling victory for Houston.
The offensive fireworks were jaw dropping as both teams traded baskets like Ali-Frazier trading blows in the ring. The defense wasn’t all that bad; it was just two very talented offensive teams playing at an extremely high level. If you missed it, try to find a friend who recorded it.
Yao Ming shoots a sky hook over Shaq Friday night in a game where the little guys stole the show. Click here for more photos from the game.
Scoring occurred every which way in the fourth quarter, too numerous to list here, but here are a few of the moments that stand out:
* Yao Ming delivered 3 assists in the post to Kyle Lowry (no-look flip pass over Shaq), Aaron Brooks (bounce pass), and Carl Landry for layups.
* Ron Artest hit two late-game shots that Tracy McGrady never could seem to deliver reliably.
* Brooks bounced back from a sub-par game against Utah to score huge buckets when they really needed it
There was a time just a few weeks ago when the Rockets’ roster that included Rafer Alston and McGrady wouldn’t have been able to amp up the offense like this to key 9 games out of their past 11, and 11 wins in a row at home.
You have to be really happy for Brooks who must have been feeling a little bit of pressure after not being all that effective in his last game in Utah, and Lowry’s performance to get the Rockets back in that game to overshadow him. AB hasn’t been the most consistent player this season, but when he’s on, he’s on. His record speaks for itself: as a starter this season, Aaron is now 13-3.
Brooks would score a career-high 30 points Friday night off 11-of-20 shots (4-of-7 from downtown), including 9 in the fourth quarter which included a 3-pointer, a runner in the lane, and an amazing scoop shot off the glass underneath Shaq’s outstretched arms. All these scores occurred when the Rockets needed buckets since Phoenix wouldn’t quit — they just kept coming at ’em.
Steve Nash was incredible by scoring 29 of his 32 points in the second half, but Aaron matched him better than any point guard I’ve seen in a Rockets uniform in a long time. This is a mind-blowing development for Rocket fans!
If Brooks can keep this up and have games that remind you of a Chris Paul or Tony Parker, then watch out NBA – this Rockets team is going to be extremely hard to beat for years to come given all the young talent they have on their roster.
Even Nash – one of the greatest point guards of all time — had to give Aaron props after the game: “He killed us and made a couple big shots at the end of the game. He’s really turning into a terrific guard and the Rockets are going to have a guy for a long time who can handle this position.”
The compliments don’t get much better than that.
Nash had a chance to win the game with a 3-pointer with just a couple of seconds left in the game, but Yao came out to the 3-point line to contest the shot, which was enough to force him to shoot the ball with a higher arc than normal…just enough to make the shot miss for the Rockets’ win. When that play developed, I was wondering who agent Bill Duffy was rooting for since he represents both Yao and Nash.
Yao didn’t have the greatest of games: he finished with 15 points on only 6-of-16 shooting along. But he grabbed 13 boards in a hefty 41 ½ minutes, and his passing was Walton-esque, especially in the fourth quarter, to finish with 6 assists. He also had 2 blocks (one against Shaq in the game’s opening minute), 2 steals, and only 2 turnovers!
Meanwhile, Shaq finished with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting and only 5 rebounds. That’s a far cry from the 29.8 points and 9.3 boards he has averaged over his last 4 games. You can consider his duel with Yao as a draw this time around.
While Yao may have fallen short of his season averages, his reliable teammates picked up the slack. Ron Artest had 21 points on 7-of-15 shots, and Landry was a difference-maker in the fourth quarter, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-7 shots. He would have finished with 20 if he hadn’t missed uncharacteristically 4-of-8 free throws after making 25 in a row before entering the game.
Luis Scola had 15 on 6-of-9 shots, and 11 boards. And Von Wafer finished with 11 points, helping the Rockets’ bench outscore the Suns’ bench 33-32.
It was that close of a game all around: the difference in the field goal percentage between both teams was razor thin: 48.8% for Houston and 48.9% for Phoenix.