Yao Ming Mania! All about Chinese basketball star and NBA All-Star Yao Ming » Blog Archive » 14-point 3rd quarter, 17 TOs put Rockets down 2-1 in series

14-point 3rd quarter, 17 TOs put Rockets down 2-1 in series

May 9th, 2009
by John

The Rockets’ locker room after the game was dead silent after their 108-94 loss to L.A. to lose home court advantage in their playoff series. Yao was sitting there with his feet in a bucket of ice, looking straight ahead at the floor dejected. We all knew there was a problem with his foot or ankle as everyone saw in the fourth quarter as he hobbled around, but I felt a little better when I saw Shane Battier with his feet in a bucket of ice, too. This is a routine for some of the players, so maybe it’s not too big of a deal…at least I’m hoping it’s not.

Yao said after the game he doesn’t remember exactly when he hurt his foot or ankle, but it was sometime in the second quarter, and it kept getting worse as the game wore on. I doubt it was one of the reasons why he missed a few point-blank layups and dunks, though. We thought those kinds of games were long gone from Yao. Even with those missed opportunities, he was just one shot shy of shooting 50%, hitting 6-of-14 for 19 points.


Yao Ming’s left ankle or foot was hurting at the end of Game 3.
Click here for more photos of Yao nursing his foot.

So we all wait with baited breath to hear what the prognosis is for Yao’s ankle (or foot) on Saturday. He said he is going to do a “running test” in the morning. Hopefully this simple routine test along with maybe some customary X-rays or whatever doesn’t turn into something major like last year when he was going to get a simple MRI on his foot because of some minor pain, only to have it turn out to be a stress fracture that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

That’s the last thing we need to hear after he had such a relatively healthy season, thinking he was out of the woods for awhile when it comes to foot and lower leg injuries.

Assuming Yao is going to be okay to play on Sunday in Game 4, let’s talk a little bit about what the team’s problems are that need to be fixed. I still see too many offensive sets that confound me: like Yao setting up on the weak side while either Ron Artest or Luis Scola are posting up (which is fine), but then Yao parking himself on the weakside or along the weakside baseline with 1 or 2 defenders between him and the ball, taking himself completely out of the play as an offensive option. WTF?

Even Rick Adelman told ESPN after the 3rd quarter that Yao had to move and be more active and not take himself out of the play like that. So maybe it’s not the sets. Maybe it’s Yao not doing enough, which is difficult to fathom. And we really can’t blame the injured foot/ankle because we’ve seen Yao struggling to get open, especially when he’s being fronted. So this is really the first time I’ve heard so explicitly Adelman saying that Yao’s got to do more. Wow.

The way these plays develop remind me so much of the offensively-challenged Kelvin Cato doing the same thing back in the Steve Francis era, waiting for either Francis or Cuttino Mobley to take it into the paint and dish off at the last second for a dunk to him, or waiting for an alley-oop pass.

C’mon. Yao’s better than that. Those kinds of plays are designed for big men who can’t shoot and have only one option to score: dunk. Plus, I just don’t understand when I go to the pre-game shootaround like I did a couple of hours before the game, Yao drills jumper after jumper from about 20 feet, THEN NEVER USES IT except maybe once per game, which he didn’t even do Friday night.

All things considered, at halftime things weren’t too bad with the Rockets trailing 50-48. Sure, they had 11 turnovers that led to 14 Laker points, but it could have been worse. The Rockets were shooting 49% after a nice first quarter where they hit 58%. The only problem is that they let the Lakers shoot 61% in the first quarter, and didn’t build a big lead when they had to chance to capitalize on LA’s 7-of-23 shooting in the 2nd quarter.


Here’s something you don’t see very often. Yao contesting a Kobe Bryant jumper out at the 3-point line. Bryant would miss the shot. Click here for more game photos.

Not building a lead came back to haunt them in the 3rd quarter when they hit only 6-of-25 shots for only 14 points, and couldn’t really put the clamps down on LA in the 4th to gain ground. They did whittle the lead down to 6 points with 4:15 remaining, but then Jordan Farmar hit a jumper, Ron Artest missed 2 jumpers, Yao missed a turnaround, and then Kobe Bryant hit a three to make it 95-84 with 2:21 remaining.

Artest would cut it to 102-94 when he hit a 3-pointer with 47.2 seconds remaining, still too big of a deficit to overcome, and right after that is when Artest got the “flagrant-2” foul called against him for fouling Gasol on a breakaway dunk attempt. But at that point, I think making up 8 points in that little of time was really improbable, so I wasn’t that upset Artest got ejected from the game. Alot of people seemed to be talking about it after the game, though. And I’m not concerned about Artest getting suspended for Game 4. It wasn’t that bad of a foul. Nowhere near Bryan’s elbowing Artest in the neck in Game 2, and he got off easy on that. There ain’t no way the NBA is going to suspend Artest for Game 4, or Stu Jackson will be public enemy #1 in Houston.

L.A. only turning the ball over 6 times compared to Houston’s 17 TO’s leading to 20 points was huge, with Aaron Brooks turning it over 3 times and Ron Artest 4 times. That’s actually par for the course for the Rockets this season against the Lakers — they’ve averaged 18.6 in their 7 games against the Lakers this season.

Houston’s 56-43 rebounding advantage wasn’t enough, the first 50-rebound game they’ve had in the post-season, and the first time they’ve out-rebounded an opponent in the playoffs and did NOT win. They also had a 50-32 scoring advantage in the paint, the most they’ve scored in the paint in the playoffs.

Another problem is they let the Lakers hit 11-of-20 three-pointers, the second-highest total against the Rockets at home this season.

Yao describes in the 1-minute press conference video below what happened in his mind. He also talks about his foot injury:

Here’s a photo I took in the media room during the same press conference:

After the game, I asked Carl Landry (4-of-7 for 10 points) how often a bad game like this would happen during the regular season, and he said maybe once every 20 games or so. I can believe that, especially after the All-Star break when I can only remember 1 or 2 games where they couldn’t get it going. What a time for this kind of performance to have happened.

This was such a surprise with all the energy and motivation the Rockets had coming into this game from their fans, ready to get payback on Bryant for elbowing Artest, and Fisher plowing down Scola. They didn’t harness or channel this energy to take them to a higher level. No one in Houston saw this coming. They thought for sure that a win in Game 3 was almost a lock.

Has doubt now crept into their mind if they can win this series? I’m sure there’s some of that. But one thing about this Rockets team we know for sure: they are resilient and will have a much better showing Sunday afternoon. If it’s not good enough to win, then this series is just about over.

Von Wafer really worked up a sweat during the pre-game shootaround. His t-shirt was soaked as he went 1-on-1 with James White for quite a long time. I thought it was a little strange for a player to be working so hard just a couple of hours before the game. Maybe it’s that same kind of work ethic that has finally landed him where he is. Or maybe that’s one reason why he went 2-for-10 in the game and scored 9 points.

Trevor Ariza‘s 3-pointers (3-of-4), 13 points, and 4 steals were killers. The Rockets got away with Portland’s Travis Outlaw having a poor series, but they’re going to have to play much better to overcome double-digit scoring from Ariza and all their starters: Odom 16, Gasol 13, Farmar 12, and you-know-who 33. What’s unfortunate is that they still won with Bryant making only 11-of-28 shots, and was only 3-for-9 in the fourth quarter.

16 Responses to “14-point 3rd quarter, 17 TOs put Rockets down 2-1 in series”

  1. airchina23 Says:

    When the Rockets beat themselves with the turnovers and lack of the ability to score in the first half, during the live blog I said they better be focused because Kobe will come out firing. I hope I was wrong. I was wrong, to an extent, but not for the better result. Everyone else on the freaking Lakers started firing away.

    I agree with you on Adelman's use of Yao. Here we are with the best jump shooting big man in the league, he's not even getting a touch on offense. Why haven't I seen one pick and roll play on offense with Yao rolling for an elbow or a top of the key jumper. I'm not saying we can win with jump shots, at least this way Yao would be a little bit more unpredictable and perhaps making the LA defense working a little bit harder. If we mix these pick'n roll plays with the post plays, how can anybody be effectively guarding us?

    Honestly I think the series was lost here in Game 3. The Lakers were clearly the hungrier team. The odds are against them now, but I hope they go out with focus and energy, and maybe they will be rewarded. Who knows, if they can win Game 4 and Game 6, anything is possible.

  2. YaoMingMania Says:

    I agree with everything you said. And if Yao's foot is hurting, but he can still play, then they should consider letting him take more jump shots and avoid all the stuff that can go wrong with his feet when he's down in the paint.

  3. D Says:

    John, geat analysis as always!

    The Rockets played a terrible game. They lost this game as opposed to the LAkers winning it. The third quarter was ugly. Yao needs to gather himself when he gets the offensive rebound and dunks it with 2 hands. The Rockets can't win this series if Yao disappear like this. Even he had 19 points and 14 rebounds, he also played a terrible game, especially in the 3rd quarter. This is 2nd bad games for him.

    Kobe will always deliver. Yao or Artest has to do the same for their team to win.

  4. YaoMingMania Says:

    I agree. And thanks for the compliment on the analysis.

  5. NYCBOBBY Says:

    I was big time dissapointed and angry at Aaron Brooks. How could he make so many turnovers and be so careless?? His TO's took our momentum away from breaking away from the Lakers. Absolutely gutless performance. And he didn't even drive it in to give the Lakers defense pressure. Talk abouit a WTF? performance. Second I'm a little dissapointed in YAO. Yes he had a decent game but why isn't he banging in the paint then going to his almost unstoppable sky hook? He was doing turnaround fadeaways in critical spots. I applaud him for his bravery and risk further injury to his foot, but he was also hurting his team from going full speed. But that is something I can't question, this is his team. Aside from that I thought we played defense on them, we didn't really allow any easy layups, its just that they shot the ball really well. They really earned it. I think our defense will always be there, it will be a matter of if the Lakers will continue to hit those jump shots at an incredible accurate rate. And if they don't, I think we can win the ugly games. Must win for us Sunday. Finally, I am in NYC and I am extremely extremely dissapointed at the Houston Fans at the stadium. I was sooo syched up for game 3 because of the bad blood that developed in game 2. But the energy at the stadium doesnt seemed to be at the level where it is supposed to be. It wasn't a hostal threatning crowd which it shouldve been. It wasn't an intimidating environment for the Lakers. Then when the game was over and Kobe was heading into the tunnel, the Houston fans was screaming for Kobe like he's Michael Jackson. That is just unexcusable. That's what seperates Utah from Houston fans. Utah fans wouldve eaten him alive.

  6. YaoMingMania Says:

    I would agree with about everything you said except the fans. I was there and they did their job in the pre-game introductions to get the team fired up. The problem is that the players didn't use it in the first quarter as they turned the ball over all the time and gave up lots of easy buckets to trail 30-28 after 1Q. After that, it was a struggle all night long since the players were so inconsistent.

    Regarding the screamers for Kobe at the end of the game, those fans were wearing purple and gold. In every crowd you're going to have a few fans from opposing teams in attendance. It was just easy for them to get over to the railing to scream for him because by that time, most of the Houston fans were gone.

  7. YaoMingMania Says:

    Good stuff. About Battier, I've always been concerned about his ability to
    produce points as a starting small forward in this league. When he scores,
    they win. When he doesn't score, which happens alot, they lose.

  8. Fan Says:

    One word can describe why the Rockets lost last night's game: Focus. Every player and the whole team was angry, because of what happened in the first two games. The first game, Battier got a hard foul and blood ran all over his face, but the Sasha didn't get ejected, but even a flagrant foul; then in the second game, Scola was knocked down by Fisher, and Ron Artest was ejected because Kobe elbowed him, the logic doesn't sound right, huh? All these three incidents during the first two games really angered the whole Rockets team. But wait, this is exactly what Phil likes to see, because he as their coach and the whole Lakers team know that IF the Rockets are Focused and Determined like they were in the very first game, they would very likely beat the Lakers. The Lakers knww that they would have to take the Focus away from the Rockets, throw their off balance psychologically, in order to gain some advantage. Unfortunately, it seems to me the Rockets fell into this kind trap in last night's game. The whole teams didn't seems very focused as they were in the first game of the series. Anyone remember the series between the Spurs and the Suns a couple of years back? When Robert Horry hard foulded Nash? Then the whole Suns team got a seed of anger planted in their heart, lost their composure and focus, and then subsequently lost the series while the Suns were actually a better team than the Spurs at that point of time. This is exactly what the Lakers are trying to do to the Rockets, that is, doing whatever it is, like making dirty plays, to throw the Rockets off psychologically in order to win this series. I hope the Rockets will calm themselves down, be focused, show your determination like in game 1, if they can do just that starting from the next game on Sunday, I am confident that they can even do the most unthinkable: winning the next 3 consecutive games and close the series out in game 6 in Houston. 4:2, Rockets! Boys, just shut up, be focused, execute game plans, show your determination, do whatever you did in game 1 and let's win this series. I know you can, and I am sure you will. Make me proud, Rockets!

  9. Fan Says:

    One word can describe why the Rockets lost last night's game: Focus.

    I felt that the whole team was in an angry mood during the last night's game, because of what happened in the first two games. In the first game, Battier got a hard foul from Sasha, which made blood running all over his face, but Sasha didn't get ejected from the game, only a flagrant 1 foul; in the second game, Scola was knocked down by Fisher, and Ron Artest was ejected because of Kobe's elbow, this sounds strange, huh? All these 3 incidents during the first two games really angered the whole Rockets team.

    But wait, this is exactly what Phil likes to see, because after game 1, he as their coach and the whole Lakers team knew that IF the Rockets are Focused and Determined like they were in the game 1, they would very likely beat the Lakers. The one single important thing the Lakers know that they would have to take away from the Rockets is their focus.

    Unfortunately, it seems to me the Rockets fell into this kind of psychological trap during last night's game. The whole teams didn't seem very focused as they were in the first game of the series.

    Anyone remember the series between the Spurs and the Suns a couple of years back, when Robert Horry gave a hard foul to Steve Nash? The whole Suns team lit a fire of anger under them, which ultimately burned themselves. The Suns were a much better team than the Spurs during that series.

    The Lakers are trying to do the exactly same thing to the Rockets, just like what Spurs did to the Suns. That is, doing whatever it takes, like the dirty plays in the first two games, to throw the Rockets off balance psychologically in order gain some sort of advantage.

    I hope the Rockets will calm themselves down, be focused, show their determination like in game 1, if they can do just that starting from the next game on Sunday, I am confident that they can even do the most unthinkable thing: winning the next 3 consecutive games and close out the series in game 6 in Houston. 4:2, Rockets!

    Boys, just shut up, be focused, execute game plans, show your determination, don't fall into the Laker's trap, do whatever you did in game 1, then you'll win this series. I know you can, and I am sure you will. Make me proud, Rockets!

  10. Luckyme Says:

    That was a very disappointing loss. Contrary to my ( and I am pretty sure everyone else's) belief, they did not seem to come out all fired-up because of how Game 2 finished and because it was their first home game. They were so lack of focus. Give the Lakers the credits, their shootings were much sharper and accurate than the Rockets. All the TO's didn't help them either – in fact they ( the TO's) had the effect of deflating the intensity of the team especially they ended up in points scored. The Lakers are no Trail Blazers. The Rockets need to play at a higher level if they expect to win the series.

  11. NYCBOBBY Says:

    I was big time dissapointed and angry at Aaron Brooks. How could he make so many turnovers and be so careless?? His TO's took our momentum away from breaking away from the Lakers. Absolutely gutless performance. And he didn't even drive it in to give the Lakers defense pressure. Talk abouit a WTF? performance. Second I'm a little dissapointed in YAO. Yes he had a decent game but why isn't he banging in the paint then going to his almost unstoppable sky hook? He was doing turnaround fadeaways in critical spots. I applaud him for his bravery and risk further injury to his foot, but he was also hurting his team from going full speed. But that is something I can't question, this is his team. Aside from that I thought we played defense on them, we didn't really allow any easy layups, its just that they shot the ball really well. They really earned it. I think our defense will always be there, it will be a matter of if the Lakers will continue to hit those jump shots at an incredible accurate rate. And if they don't, I think we can win the ugly games. Must win for us Sunday. Finally, I am in NYC and I am extremely extremely dissapointed at the Houston Fans at the stadium. I was sooo syched up for game 3 because of the bad blood that developed in game 2. But the energy at the stadium doesnt seemed to be at the level where it is supposed to be. It wasn't a hostal threatning crowd which it shouldve been. It wasn't an intimidating environment for the Lakers. Then when the game was over and Kobe was heading into the tunnel, the Houston fans was screaming for Kobe like he's Michael Jackson. That is just unexcusable. That's what seperates Utah from Houston fans. Utah fans wouldve eaten him alive.

  12. JW Says:

    Agree, Yao needs to play better. Take the jump shot if he can't get to the low post. He needs to get it going early. It will also help other. We don't have many options, especially the ball movement is not that great at times.

    TOs are always worried me. Giving away easy points will not help your confidence either.

    JVG said during the game that Battier needs to do more on offense to make Kobe work harder. I think that's a good point. Maybe we asked too much.

    Sometimes, I wonder why they don't have setups/pick-roll that Parker and Duncan use. Especially our guards can finish at the rim, or shot mid-range jumpers …

  13. YaoMingMania Says:

    I would agree with about everything you said except the fans. I was there and they did their job in the pre-game introductions to get the team fired up. The problem is that the players didn't use it in the first quarter as they turned the ball over all the time and gave up lots of easy buckets to trail 30-28 after 1Q. After that, it was a struggle all night long since the players were so inconsistent.

    Regarding the screamers for Kobe at the end of the game, those fans were wearing purple and gold. In every crowd you're going to have a few fans from opposing teams in attendance. It was just easy for them to get over to the railing to scream for him because by that time, most of the Houston fans were gone.

  14. YaoMingMania Says:

    Good stuff. About Battier, I've always been concerned about his ability to
    produce points as a starting small forward in this league. When he scores,
    they win. When he doesn't score, which happens alot, they lose.

  15. Fan Says:

    One word can describe why the Rockets lost last night's game: Focus.

    I felt that the whole team was in an angry mood during the last night's game, because of what happened in the first two games. In the first game, Battier got a hard foul from Sasha, which made blood running all over his face, but Sasha didn't get ejected from the game, only a flagrant 1 foul; in the second game, Scola was knocked down by Fisher, and Ron Artest was ejected because of Kobe's elbow, this sounds strange, huh? All these 3 incidents during the first two games really angered the whole Rockets team.

    But wait, this is exactly what Phil likes to see, because after game 1, he as their coach and the whole Lakers team knew that IF the Rockets are Focused and Determined like they were in the game 1, they would very likely beat the Lakers. The one single important thing the Lakers know that they would have to take away from the Rockets is their focus.

    Unfortunately, it seems to me the Rockets fell into this kind of psychological trap during last night's game. The whole teams didn't seem very focused as they were in the first game of the series.

    Anyone remember the series between the Spurs and the Suns a couple of years back, when Robert Horry gave a hard foul to Steve Nash? The whole Suns team lit a fire of anger under them, which ultimately burned themselves. The Suns were a much better team than the Spurs during that series.

    The Lakers are trying to do the exactly same thing to the Rockets, just like what Spurs did to the Suns. That is, doing whatever it takes, like the dirty plays in the first two games, to throw the Rockets off balance psychologically in order gain some sort of advantage.

    I hope the Rockets will calm themselves down, be focused, show their determination like in game 1, if they can do just that starting from the next game on Sunday, I am confident that they can even do the most unthinkable thing: winning the next 3 consecutive games and close out the series in game 6 in Houston. 4:2, Rockets!

    Boys, just shut up, be focused, execute game plans, show your determination, don't fall into the Laker's trap, do whatever you did in game 1, then you'll win this series. I know you can, and I am sure you will. Make me proud, Rockets!

  16. Luckyme Says:

    That was a very disappointing loss. Contrary to my ( and I am pretty sure everyone else's) belief, they did not seem to come out all fired-up because of how Game 2 finished and because it was their first home game. They were so lack of focus. Give the Lakers the credits, their shootings were much sharper and accurate than the Rockets. All the TO's didn't help them either – in fact they ( the TO's) had the effect of deflating the intensity of the team especially they ended up in points scored. The Lakers are no Trail Blazers. The Rockets need to play at a higher level if they expect to win the series.

Leave a Reply