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Brooks breaks Suns in another breakout game

March 7th, 2009
by John

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.

14 Responses to “Brooks breaks Suns in another breakout game”

  1. airchina23 Says:

    I watched this game, it was one of the best games I've watched lately. Ron Artest is doing exactly the same things that he did when he was with the Pacers on the court.

    As long as we don't meet the Jazz in the playoffs, we'll go far this year.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Some critics say that Yao and Idleman cannot co-exist. What is your comments on that suggestion, John?

  3. YaoMingMania Says:

    I think they're working out pretty well.

  4. YaoMingMania Says:

    I like the dimension that Brooks brings that is so different from
    Alston, and it seems to be working since he has a 13-3 record as a
    starter. It seems most succesful teams these days have point guards
    who are quick and can score (CP3, Wade, Rondo, Nash, etc). Mike Bibby
    was like that, too, under Adelman at the Kings, so it may be that AB's
    coach is wanting him to do that. Plus, he's still young and I think
    will evolve. When you've got a physical asset and skill like that
    (quickness, can score), I think you use it, just like Yao uses his
    size. That's what frustrated me about McLady — he could attack the
    basket and score, but he settled for too many long jumpers and 3-
    pointers.

    If Rafer has an off shooting night, then I like how Lowry is available
    to take over, like he did in Utah. As long as they have that, I'm okay
    with AB being more aggressive because it gives the defense one more
    thing they have to think about, which is good for Yao.

    Good thoughts, and I'll keep an eye on it more.

  5. pryuen Says:

    John

    Thanks for the excellent game summary.

    Could it be only me regarding my over-concern and worry??

    Obviously a win is a win, no matter how ugly. And it was great for Aaron Brooks to sustain pressure, traded blows for blows, shots for shots with Steve Nash, a 2-time MVP, and score the clutch shot 7 seconds before end of 4Q to win the game.

    But IMHO, if Aaron Brooks just remembered what the Rockets do best as a half-court O&D team, never great as a run-and-gun team, focused more on what traditional point guards do best, the Rockets would have finished the Suns in 3Q or 4Q, and the game needed not to be decided on the last shot.

    Luckily, it was Yao Ming’s timely help defense on Steve Nash’s pick-n-roll and put a hand into his face to sort of affected the 3-pointer. Or else, the Rockets would have lost this crucial game.

    It seemed to me that Aaron Brooks is just too trigger-happy, a shoot-first-pass-second guard. Yeah he shoots much better than Alston Rafer, but he just lacks the composure, court vision, and the ability to read the game and organize offense.

    Most of the time that I watched him in this game, he would rely on his speed, push the ball past the half court, and then tried to speed past his defender 1-on-1 with his team mates providing shields for him. He would waste almost 8 to 15 seconds doing that. And when he realized he could not have scoring opportunity, he then passed to his team mates, leaving them very little time on the shot clock. He seldom can organize the offense.

    When he played the point, he just held onto the ball too long….and Rockets’ motion offense seemed to stall. He was lucky that his shots were falling tonight….and 20 shot attempts for 30 points, 3 assists and 4 turnovers did not seem to be good indicator of a competent point guard.

    In that aspect, I like the other small fellow better. At least Kyle Lowry had better passing skills, better court vision, and he is willing to try to get his team mates involved, and organize offense.

    I really think Lady Luck was with the Rockets tonight that they’ve won the game, which they should have put away early in 4Q, that the game needed not be decided on a last shot, if Aaron Brooks had put in effort to control the tempo/rhythm of the game, and not try to play run-and-gun with the Phoenix.

  6. James Says:

    We're all Yao fans here, but let's not ignore some disturbing (to me, anyway) aspects of Yao's game:

    – Shaq is over the hill at 37 and Yao is in his prime. Shouldn't we expect more from Yao than a draw?
    – Yao defended Nash's last shot well, but that was after Nash abused him (and Brooks) the entire second half. We've seen Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson and even Andrea Bargnani dance through games against the Rockets because of Yao's defensive weaknesses. It's OK when Yao makes it up at the offensive end, but he hasn't always been reliable at this.
    – Also, where is Yao at the end of games? The great big men always found a way to contribute during the final minutes despite being smothered, but Yao often disappears. And frankly, when he does get the ball during crunch time my palms get sweaty because I want so much for him to do well, yet half the time he'll miss a shot or make mistakes.

    Charley Rosen thinks Yao hasn't fully recovered from his foot injury, and he may be right, as Yao hasn't performed as well as in 2006 when he was considered an MVP candidate. Let's hope he finally gets a restful summer this year and comes back stronger than ever.

    Sorry for the rant, guys, but being a Yao fan can be very frustrating sometimes: there's so much anticipation and hope built up but very few moments of release.

  7. Luckyme Says:

    That was a very exciting and entertaining game. Yao had a below-average game, but his block of Shaq's first shot and the three passings were priceless. At the end of the game, he seemed to be shying away from attacking the post. Too much respect for Shaq ?

  8. pryuen Says:

    You asked where was Big Yao at the end of the game???

    Did you notice he was the player that stayed the longest on the court?? 41 minutes. Must be his seasonal highest play minute.

    And as I posted above, Rockets is known best as a half-court O&D team; they're not good as a run-and-gun team. And towards the last stretch of that game, did you see how Aaron Brooks was playing??? He dribbled, and dribbled around the pick-n-roll set up by Big Yao for him, just shot regardless, without any slightest intention to pass. Big Yao could only run up and down the court on those O&D transitions.

    Luckily Aaron Brooks made that lay-up past the slow Shaq…..and Yao Ming was there using his last ounce of energy, put his hand into the face of Steve Nash that made Nash missed that last shot. Or else, the Rockets would have lost.

  9. YaoMingMania Says:

    About this same topic, I thought I'd reference something I found yesterday that Feigen wrote on chron.com about a week ago http://blogs.chron.com/nba/2009/03/join_jonatha… at the 2:13 mark. About Brooks, Feigen wrote, “The Rockets, however, wanted Brooks' scoring and perimeter shooting threat on the floor with Yao. Scoring point guards, or lead guards, get criticized for it, but many win an awful lot of games, with the one in San Antonio winning three championships. Cleveland seems pretty fired up about its chances with Mo Williams.”

  10. YaoMingMania Says:

    My thoughts to your points:

    1) Shaq is actually playing better than he has in a long time.

    2) Nash abuses everyone. He is a Hall of Famer. All of those other guys you mention do the same to their opponents.

    3) The statement “The great big men always found a way to contribute during the final minutes…” applied when the rules were different. It's now much more difficult now because they can be double-teamed without the ball. Not many big men are winning games for their teams late. The rule changes have favored the CP3s, Wades, Kobes, etc. to win games.

  11. James Ma Says:

    Thanks, Pryuen and John, your points are well-taken. Yao's inside threat does open up the offense for other guys to score, and that's easy to overlook. The rules, indeed, have changed in the past decade or so in favor of wings rather than big men.

  12. YaoMingMania Says:

    About this same topic, I thought I'd reference something I found that Feigen wrote on chron.com about a week ago http://blogs.chron.com/nba/2009/03/join_jonatha… at the 2:03 mark. About Brooks, Feigen wrote, “The Rockets wanted Brooks' scoring and perimeter shooting threat on the floor with Yao. Scoring point guards, or lead guards, get criticized for it, but many win an awful lot of games, with the one in San Antonio winning three championships. Cleveland seems pretty fired up about its chances with Mo Williams.”

  13. YaoMingMania Says:

    My thoughts to your points:

    1) Shaq is actually playing better than he has in a long time.

    2) Nash abuses everyone. He is a Hall of Famer. All of those other guys you mention do the same to their opponents.

    3) The statement “The great big men always found a way to contribute during the final minutes…” applied when the rules were different. It's now much more difficult now because they can be double-teamed without the ball. Not many big men are winning games for their teams late. The rule changes have favored the CP3s, Wades, Kobes, etc. to win games.

  14. James Ma Says:

    Thanks, Pryuen and John, your points are well-taken. Yao's inside threat does open up the offense for other guys to score, and that's easy to overlook. The rules, indeed, have changed in the past decade or so in favor of wings rather than big men.

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