As big of a win it was for the Rockets to beat the Spurs 87-85 Sunday afternoon to take a 1/2 game lead for the Southwest Division lead, I am tempering my enthusiasm with the reality that the Rockets still have a ways to go in proving that it’s replicable and sustainable. After all, they have to prove it all over again Tuesday night in Utah against the Jazz
First though, I think Rocket fans all over are saying, no matter how tenuous the win might have been and the fact there are still many big games remaining, JOB WELL DONE!
Yao Ming shoots a baseline jumper over Tim Duncan. But it would be Yao’s assists near the end of the game that would do the most damage. Click here for more photos from the game.
The Rockets needed some help to get this win. There were so many big plays in this game, it would be hard to choose one over the other in prioritizing what was the most important in getting the victory. What’s amazing that in such a big victory, Yao only scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shots.
But what we’ll all remember are Yao’s ASSISTS in the final minute of the game, and they were the ONLY assists we would have the entire game! Here’s the YouTube video of them:
Those assists to Scola at the end of the game were obviously huge, but it wouldn’t do the game justice just to focus on those plays. So what I’m going to do is bring up some of the most noteworthy plays in the game (both good and bad), ending with Yao’s incredible dimes to Scola to steal it from the Spurs.
10:04 – Yao lost the ball in the post. He simply mishandled it with no one poking the ball away.
It wasn’t a good day for Yao taking care of the ball. A little over 2 minutes later, Yao throws a pass from the post to Aaron Brooks that gets deflected, stolen and results in a layup the other way. A little over 2 minutes later, he gets stripped for his 3rd turnover, which leads to a bucket the other way for a 21-11 Spurs lead.
Then midway through the 2nd quarter, Yao falls down just dribbling the ball in the post. Roger Mason just “pulled the chair” from underneath Yao, which made Yao fall down. The problem is that Yao so outmatched Mason, he really didn’t need to put his full weight against him to get closer to the bucket. Besides, Yao doesn’t need to dribble that much. Just turn and shoot that turnaround jumper that he’s so automatic with.
Wouldn’t you know it, he would do just that about 30 seconds later when he just shot it and scored! Keep doing that, Yao!
8:06 – Tim Duncan hits his 3rd field goal over Yao, and would finish the 1st quarter with 10 points. However, overall the Rockets would do a good job of holding him to ‘just’ 23 points on 8-of-22 shooting.
:37.1 – Luis Scola hits a beautiful jump shot to give the Rockets a 25-21 lead. Scola would go on to hit several big jump shots, and layups (as I’ll describe in the 4th quarter), and finish with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. What an amazing game!
10:30 – Scola hits another jumper. 30-26, San Antonio leads.
10:15 – Kirk Lowry blocks Drew Gooden at the rim on an open layup attempt, followed by Chuck Hayes running the break down the middle of the court, and dishes to Scola who is fouled! WOW! LOTS OF EFFORT ON THAT PLAY BY EVERYONE!
Scola makes both FTs. He now has 10 points. 30-28, San Antonio leads.
9:50 – What a beautiful play this was: Kirk Lowry goes on the break and passes to Brent Barry in the corner, who goes up for a 3-pointer, then passes back to Lowry who catches the ball in mid-air, then bounce passes it high to Barry who is cutting toward the rim, then elevates and scores on a reverse layup! WOW! 30-30 tie, and an 8-0 run by Houston. THIS SECOND UNIT IS DOING AMAZING!
ON THE VERY NEXT PLAY: BARRY STEALS IT, PASSES IT TO HAYES, WHO GOES BASELINE AND DOES A SPIN MOVE AT THE RIM FOR A LAYUP! WOW! 32-30 Houston. 10-0 run by Houston!
9:12 – Von Wafer steals the ball as it gets passed to Roger Mason. Mason fouls Wafer as they are both going for the loose ball! GREAT DEFENSE AND HUSTLE, VON!
8:15 – Von Wafer attacks the rim from the baseline, goes airborne, then dishes to Hayes who puts up a little floater that scores! 34-32 Houston. On the bench, Yao stands up and applauds Chuck’s effort!
7:40 – Kirk Lowry hits a jumper! The Rockets are now shooting 57% for the game, and lead 36-32.
6:48 – Brent Barry attacks the basket and is fouled!
2:33 – Scola hits another jumper. He’s so clutch! Houston leads 44-42.
2:11 – Tony Parker abuses Aaron Brooks in the post for the second possession in a row by driving hard to the hole and kissing it off the glass with the left hand. Give Parker credit, though. That was an amazing shot.
1:30 – Shane Battier hits a 3-pointer from a Scola pass. 47-45, Houston leads!
:10.8 – From way outside, Ron Artest takes it strong to the hole and scores! What a play! 50-47, Houston leads.
Halftime: Houston leads 51-47
7:27 – Ron Artest holds on to the ball too long, then jacks up an off-balance 3-pointer over Bruce Bowen, AND HITS IT! My goodness! The way he hit that leaning hits 3-pointer was almost Kobe-like.
5:25 – Aaron Brooks plays good D by blocking Tony Parker’s shot, and Kurt Thomas pushes Ron Artest out of bounds as they both go chasing after the loose ball.
4:44 – Scola hits another jumper from the free throw line area! Have you noticed how clutch he has been with that shot? Houston leads 62-56!
1:56 – Artest hits a long 2-pointer on the inbounds pass over Bruce Bowen. 64-56 Houston!
:30.3 – Kirk Lowry steals the ball, dribbles it the length of the court on a fast break, then goes up strong for a shot, but the ball slips out of his hand for a turnover.
End of 3rd quarter: The Spurs end the quarter on a 7-0 run. Houston leads 64-63. Houston scored only 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting in the quarter, but San Antonio wasn’t much better: 6-of-20 for 16 points.
11:42 – At the start of the fourth quarter, Yao does NOT dribble when he gets the ball and banks it off the glass! 66-63 Houston!
11:04 – Yao hits his second jumper in a row, this time over Kurt Thomas, AND AGAIN, NO DRIBBLING! 68-63 Houston!
10:15 – Lowry takes Parker strong to the hole and scores! Parker can’t handle Lowry’s size!
8:30 – Lowry takes it strong to the hole and scores off the glass! 72-70 Houston
8:13 – The Rockets force an airball of Parker on a 3, but Udoka sneaks in to grab it and lay it in! WHERE’S THE BLOCK OUT? 72-72 tie
7:41 – Another missed offensive rebound by the Rockets after Parker misses a 3-point attempt, and Udoka burns the rockets with a 3! WHERE’S THE BLOCK OUT? 75-72 San Antonio.
6:36 – Udoka hits another jumper. Rockets trail 77-72. It’s not looking good, folks.
JUST LIKE THE LAST GAME WITH THE SPURS, THE ROCKETS’ REBOUNDING IS A MAJOR PROBLEM, AS WELL AS MISSING SHOTS ON OFFENSE.
5:58 – Tony Parker hits a jumper. 79-72 San Antonio. This game looks like it’s just about over.
4:49 – Duncan misses a jumper, BUT KURT THOMAS GRABS THE REBOUND!
3:36 – Parker backs down Brooks and scores over him. That’s not a good matchup! WHY IS BROOKS IN THERE? 81-75 San Antonio.
3:04 – Battier hits a long, big 3-pointer! It’s 81-78 San Antonio. Houston has new life!
2:45 – Battier plays great defense out high on Roger Mason, who loses control of the ball. Mason tries to block out Battier from getting the loose ball – WHICH IS A FOUL THAT THE REFS DON’T CALL – but Battier is able to break through as Tim Duncan falls to the floor and tie it up for a jump ball! Good going, Shane! THEN BATTIER WINS THE TIP OVER DUNCAN!
2:29 With even more new life after Battier won the tip against Duncan, Brooks takes it strong to the hole, high off the glass, AND YAO TIPS IT IN! The San Antonio TV announcers say that Yao committed goaltending, but I don’t think so! Houston trails only 81-80.
1:45 – AARON HITS A JUMPER OVER TONY PARKER! WOW! IT’S 82-81 HOUSTON AFTER A 7-0 RUN! BROOKS WOULD ONLY HIT 2-OF-10 SHOTS FOR 5 POINTS FOR THE GAME, AND NONE WAS BIGGER THAN THIS ONE.
1:17 – Parker misses a shot and the ball goes out of bounds off San Antonio! Houston ball!
:46 – Duncan misses a jump shot after Yao contests the shot, Kurt Thomas tries to tip it in, misses, but he gets the second tip, which goes in! Looking at the replay, Scola gave up too much ground to Thomas! C’mon Luis! Fight hard for the board! San Antonio leads 83-82!
:29.3 – YAO THROWS A BEAUTIFUL PASS FROM THE KEY TO A CUTTING SCOLA DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE LANE, AND SCOLA SCORES OFF THE GLASS! Although he didn’t block out very well on the play before, Luis made up for it right there!
There have been 8 LEAD CHANGES AND 9 TIES in this game!
:20.1 – Parker drives to the hole and scores easily around Brooks and Yao. Too easy!! Adelman gets mad at Yao for coming out too far from the basket!!
:11.2 – Yao passes it from the key to Scola for a layup! 86-85 Hou. Both Scola and Yao are making mistakes on the defensive end, but they’re more than making it up on the offensive end! 86-85 Houston. Yao is playing the high post like Rick Adelman probably wanted him to do like Vlade Divac and Brad Miller when he became the coach of the Rockets! Where did those plays come from? We hadn’t seen that all season! And to do it crunch time is even more phenomenal!
HOUSTON NEEDS A STOP!
:0.3 – Parker misses a jump hook in the lane! OMG! On this play, Adelman decided to put Lowry on him, and it paid off! That was the best coaching decision of the game!
Scola is fouled intentionally with .3 seconds remaining in the game. He goes to the line and misses the first free throw, and TRIES TO MISS THE SECOND SO THE CLOCK WILL EXPIRE, BUT HE MAKES IT!
UNBELIEVABLY, BECAUSE OF A BAD SHOT CLOCK OPERATOR, BONNER HAD A SHOT OF WINNING THE GAME WITH A 3-POINTER, WHICH IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO “CATCH AND SHOOT” IN .3 SECONDS, BUT LUCKILY BONNER MISSED IT, AND THE ROCKETS WIN!