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Rockets rock it in the Rockies, win another big game in the West

March 10th, 2009
by John

It’s hard to believe the Rockets pulled out a victory in Denver given the things that had been going against them. It was the second night of a back-to-back, they were playing in the thin air of the Mile High City, and they couldn’t hit their free throws, finishing a pathetic 20-of-35 from the line.

Yao had only scored 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting by halftime, they let a big lead slip away, and Yao fouled himself out of the game with 2:33 remaining on a silly foul at half-court trying to steal the ball from Chauncey Billups.


Yao started off slowly with only 2 points at halftime,
but he would finish with 15 points in a big win in Denver.
Click here for more photos from the game.

But the Rockets came through thanks to a huge 3-pointer by Shane Battier in the corner with 1:02 remaining to give them a 92-85 lead. Throw in a few free throws by Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry after that, and Houston got one of their most surprising road wins of the season.

Although I knew the Rockets were going to be much improved after they put a lot of their past drama behind them during the All-Star break, even I’m surprised they pulled this game out.

Houston started off slowly by shooting only 33% from the floor. But in the second quarter, they finally got it in gear by going on a 16-4 run to take a 34-32 lead, and extended it to 45-40 by halftime.

They had only shot 38% by that time. Ron Artest and Brooks had scored 9 points each, and Carl Landry had 8. But those were the only highlights offensively, given Houston made only 7-of-15 free throws. They offset their lowlights by holding the Nuggets to 34.1% shooting, with Nene Hilario missing 8-of-11 shots, most at point-blank range.

The Rockets started rolling in the 3rd quarter as they opened up a 19-point lead after Artest hit a 3-pointer to cap a 15-0 run.

But you knew the rest of the way wasn’t going to be easy since the Nuggets are still explosive, even after losing 7 of their last 10 games, and have come back 10 times this season when trailing by 10 or more points.

They would do just that, but Yao came back into the game in the fourth quarter, hit a jump hook and a couple of free throws, Battier would hit that 3-pointer, Chuck Hayes would make a huge play in the final minute by sacrificing his body to dive and save a ball that was headed out-of-bounds, and the Rockets would hit 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal it.

Although he fouled out and only played about 27 minutes, Yao hit 4-of-5 shots in the second half to score 15 points and grab 7 boards. Shockingly, Luis Scola only scored 4 points, but he racked up 15 boards.

Artest was money again scoring 22 points, including 4-of-9 three-pointers. And Brooks continues to answer the call in big games, hitting 7-of-13 shots to score 19. Give credit to the front office and the coaching staff for having faith in Brooks as a starter in this league when no one really thought the same.

But it was their defense that was the key to this win, having held Denver to 38.1% shooting overall.

7 Responses to “Rockets rock it in the Rockies, win another big game in the West”

  1. Vince Says:

    So Lamar will be suspended vs the Rockets on Wednesday for stepping off the bench right? That would be one less Faker to worry about.

  2. NYCBOBBY Says:

    John, this Rockets team is definately one of my favorites ever since Yao came on board. I liked it when Franchise was there too, but Yao wasn't really as polished as he is now. Still far from a complete product but he has made a LOT of strides. Plus they didn't have a deep squad like we have now. But I have to give props to our GM Morey. Sure Danny Ainge won GM of the year last year. But c'mon who wouldn't if you could bring 3 legit All Stars together? Besides, his boy McHale made things a LOT whole easier to get the trade done wouldn't you say? Our guy Morey, that's a different story. He's made a team from scratch. Building the team through the draft and trading for not stars but great role players that not only fit the team but fits the tenacity and aggression that compliments Yao. Yao needed that badly to build on his career. Sure sometimes it could be luck to find gems like that, but our guy Morey has a scheme and an envision. I can't wait to see what he does in this years draft or this summers free agency. So far Morey's gang can prove they can hang with teams up to 1 seeds in the East and 2 seeds in the West. This wednesday is gonna be a tell tale sign if they can hang with the best of the best in my opinion and see how far they can really go in the playoffs this year. Hip hip hooray for our guy Morey!

  3. YaoMingMania Says:

    I'll bet that will be the case.

  4. YaoMingMania Says:

    I would agree with you, NYCBobby. McHale did make it easier for Ainge to win GM of the year last year by dealing Garnet.

    I really respect with Morey has done in getting Scola, Landry, Brooks, Lowry, Artest, Wafer, Barry. That line-up sends chills down my spine. It really shows how much we were lacking over the past 10 years with our former GM in place. I love Carroll Dawson and Rudy T., and they won us 2 championships, but the difference between CD and Morey is unbelievable looking back on it. And JVG didn't help things not wanting to play young players and instead go with old dinosaurs like Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, etc., and wearing out the starters like Yao and Alston. Can you imagine JVG willing to play Landry, Brooks and Wafer so early in their careers as much as Adelman had? By him not doing that, it was his ultimate downfall.

  5. airchina23 Says:

    This was one of the worst offensive output I've seen from this team. When Yao fouled out, I laughed because I couldn't believe that he would try to rip Billups with 5 fouls! Maybe he got carried away.
    But, our defense was there. The second unit rallied and made strides even when Yao's on the bench.
    I honestly do not think the Rockets will shoot that badly again for a while, especially the free throw shooting. And to get a win regardless of the bad offense, it proves that this team is for real and very solid.

    Once again, I watched this game with the feed from Denver's network (I think you did too, John). It's funny that it took the play-by-play guy three quarters to realize why the Rockets are a good defensive team even though they are near bottom in the league for blocked shots. Or rather, why Yao is effective even without shot-blocking. And I can't believe my ears when the color guy said Yao gets “superstar treatments” from the officials. I don't blame them though, the team announcers focus only on their home team and travel with them year round. They don't get to watch other teams as much.

  6. Luckyme Says:

    Yeah, watching the opponent network feed sometime makes you think you are watching a different game. They are understandably biased in their commentaries. Sometimes I have to turn down the volumes so as not to be aggravated by their one-sided views. On the other hand, the Rockets TV commentators are pretty fair – you will hear Matt saying ” this is a right call” even on foul calls against Rockets players.

  7. Luckyme Says:

    Yeah, watching the opponent network feed sometime makes you think you are watching a different game. They are understandably biased in their commentaries. Sometimes I have to turn down the volumes so as not to be aggravated by their one-sided views. On the other hand, the Rockets TV commentators are pretty fair – you will hear Matt saying ” this is a right call” even on foul calls against Rockets players.

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