This is an update to my post late Saturday night after the Rockets lost to the Denver Nuggets at Toyota Center, 107-94. I have updated my post below with my analysis of quarters 2 through 4.
I know there are tons of other Web sites that will go into the details of this game, so I’ll spare you the details here. You can go to those sites to checkout what they’re saying about yet another Rockets’ collapse late in a game. From a Yao standpoint, he looked okay offensively, scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and had 6 boards.
For this game I’ve decided to go “old school” on you and do a “Detailed Yao Analysis” like I did when I first started this site 8 years ago. Through my “DYA,” you can read what Yao did (and didn’t do) in the game without having to watch the whole thing. Here’s my breakdowns of quarters 2 through 4 involving Yao and the team.
10:32 – Yao is still out of the game, but the Rockets are running with Aaron Brooks throwing from the 3-point line an alley-oop to Courtney Lee for a two-handed dunk that gets the whole crowd and bench up! Rockets lead 31-27.
9:36 – The Rockets run a fast break again, this time with Lee throwing an under-handed scoop pass to Chase Budinger who throws it down at the rim! I haven’t seen this many alley-oops on a Rockets’ team since Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato were together! Rockets lead 33-27.
7:00 – Yao checks back into the game. The Rockets lead 35-31.
6:39 – Yao gets the ball on the right block against Nene, then immediately jumps and shoots a right-handed jump hook, which misses.
5:48 – Just like at the 9:43 mark in the 1st quarter, Yao gets the ball on the left block against Nene, dribbles 2-3 times, turns toward the basket, elevates and shoots a fallaway jumper – and it goes in!
5:04 – Yao gets the ball a couple feet outside of the lane, about ready to post-up Nene. This time, though, the Nuggets bring a guard into the lane to potentially double-team Yao if he spins into the lane like he did at the 5:48 mark above. But even with two guys, they still wouldn’t be able to stop him. For some reason, Yao decides to mix it up and spins baseline on Nene, but Yao mishandles the ball and dribbles it out of bounds. Yao is furious at himself for his mistake.
3:34 – The Nuggets have a 3-on-2 fast break, and Yao is in the lane with very low odds of being able to defend against 3 Nuggets streaking his way. Shelden Williams gets the ball on a dead run just a couple of steps away from the rim and goes up for a slam, AND YAO IS ABLE TO BLOCK IT AS HE WAS ABOUT TO THROW IT DOWN! The crowd goes nuts that we have a guy who can block a shot at the rim again!
2:37 – Yao checks out of the game as Kyle Lowry prepares to shoot free throws. Houston leads 43-42.
At halftime, the Rockets lead 51-48. It could have been 51-45, but Nene hit a fluke 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. In 12 minutes and 45 seconds, Yao has 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and 5 rebounds. Kevin Martin has 14 points on 6-of-9 shots, and Luis Scola has 10 points on 3-of-5 FG attempts.
3rd Quarter – Yao is on the bench as Brad Miller starts the 2nd half at center.
7:33 – Yao checks into the game for Miller. The Rockets lead 60-55.
6:03 – Yao does a good job by backing up as Carmelo Anthony drives to the lane, and manages to block Melo’s shot! The ball comes down, Nene puts up a wild shot that misses, and then Scola is fouled on a loose ball foul. That was Yao’s second block of the game, and wouldn’t have happened last year with no shot blocker in there!
5:39 – Yao posts up Nene on the left block, then passes to Kevin Martin behind the 3-point line. Martin shakes off his defender, gets a little closer to Yao, who is still in the post, and bounces a nice pass back to Yao. Yao then quickly turns to his right to face up, quickly elevates, puts up a shot that hits the rim, rattles around, and drops in! Nice touch from Yao! Houston leads 65-58 and Yao is 5-for-7 from the field with 10 points.
4:51 – With the shot clock down to 3 seconds, K-Mart has the ball behind the 3-point line and has a perfect opportunity to bounce another pass to Yao again, who has good position on Nene in a post-up on the right block. But Martin blows off that opportunity, doesn’t feed his big man, and jacks up a 3-pointer that misses badly.
4:43 – Fortunately, Kyle Lowry grabs Martin’s missed shot, brings it out, passes it back to Martin who is at the top of the 3-point line, AND MARTIN REDEEMS HIMSELF BY WHIPPING A ONE-HANDED PASS TO YAO WHO HAS GREAT POSITION IN THE LANE ON A SMALLER MAN (Al Harrington). YAO GOES UP IMMEDIATELY AND SHOOTS A RIGHT-HANDED HOOK SHOT THAT RATTLES AROUND THE RIM AND FALLS THROUGH AGAIN! THAT’S THE WAY TO DO IT, MARTIN! REWARD YOUR BIG MAN FOR WORKING HARD TO GET GOOD POSITION!
3:46 – Like the play directly above, K-Mart throws a pass from the top of the 3-point circle down to Yao who has great position down low in the paint. Yao goes up and shoots a right-handed hook shot, but he seems to rush it, and it falls short.
2:38 – Yao gets the ball on the left block, guarded by Nene again. Yao dribbles a couple of times, is double-teamed, and is fouled on the shot. Yao makes both free throws, and the Rockets lead 69-65. He has 14 points now.
1:25 – Yao checks out of the game. He has played19 minutes so frar. The Rockets lead 69-67.
0:00 – At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Nuggets lead 72-69. Houston hasn’t scored in 2 ½ minutes. Denver ended the quarter on a 7-0 run to take the lead.
9:21 – The Nuggets have gone on an 11-0 run to take an 85-76 lead.
7:19 – Yao is still out of the game. Chuck Hayes has been fouled two possessions in a row, and he makes 2-of-4 free throws. Nuggets lead 88-82.
6:29 – The Rockets fast break and Scola scores on a layup. 88-84 Denver.
6:05 – Shelden Williams is called for a loose ball foul and a technical for “disrespect.” K-Mart hits a technical. 88-85.
5:56 – K-Mart is fouled on a layup attempt, hits two free throws, and the Rockets only trail 88-87.
4:33 – Yao checks into the game. Denver leads 90-89. Billups proceeds to hit a dagger of a 3-pointer over Aaron Brooks. 93-89.
4:10 – Martin shoots up a low-percentage 3-pointer that misses.
3:56 – Shane Battier tries to help out Brooks by double-teaming Billups, but he’s late in sliding over and is called for a block. Billups gotes to the line and hits both free throws. 95-89 Denver.
3:40 – Yao gets the ball in the post. He’s double-teamed, but dribbles once, AND IT’S STOLEN AWAY LEADING TO A FAST BREAK THE OTHER WAY. DENVER SCORES. 97-89, Nuggets.
3:15 – K-Mart misses a runner from the baseline. Denver gains possession.
2:46 – Scola misses an open jumper.
2:29 – Carmelo grabs a missed shot and lays it in. Yao was blocking out his man so that Scola, who was in front of the rim, could grab the rebound. But Melo slid in between Yao and Scola to get the board. 99-89 Denver. That just about does it.
1:03 – With the score 103-94, the game is practically over, the stands are just about empty, and they just have to play this one out. Yao gets the ball in his usual position – on the left block against Nene. He fires a turnaround jumper and it misses badly.
To read what I posted late Saturday night for 1st quarter coverage, click the link directly below…
1st quarter (posted Saturday night)
12:00 – Yao wins the opening tip against Nene, a rarity!
11:45 – The Rockets go to Yao in the first possession of the game, and he immediately goes to work. Yao spins baseline, then pivots underneath the basket away from Nene and puts up a right-handed hook shot close to the corner of the backboard, but misses everything. The shot doesn’t touch the iron. I hadn’t seen Yao miss that badly in a long time. He must be amped up playing at home in his first regular season game. Yao sprints down the court on defense like a gazelle.
11:30 – Nene drives to the basket against Yao. Yao keeps track of him, then manages to stick a hand in knock the ball out of Nene’s hands as he went up for a shot at the basket. Good D by Yao!
11:15 – For the second consecutive possession, Yao gets the ball on the left block against Nene, takes his time and dribbles a couple of times to get a little closer to the basket, then lofts a right-handed jump hook over Nene that hits the front of the iron, caroms off the backboard, and has good enough touch on it to fall in! Rockets lead 2-0.
10:45 – Yao gets the ball on the right block, guarded by Nene. He dribbles once, but Nene sticks a hand in to knock the ball away from Yao. Turnover on Yao.
10:04 – Nene posts up Yao, then takes one giant step toward the basket and around Yao, then uses the hoop to shield Yao from blocking his shot, then spins the ball off the glass for a reverse layup from underneath the rim. Very nice move by Nene. That would have been a bucket just about on anybody, the way Nene nicely used the rim to shield himself from getting blocked. You can tell he’s worked on that move a lot. Houston 4, Denver 2.
9:43 – On the next Rockets’ possession, they go to Yao again, posting up Nene one more time. Yao dribbles a couple of times, then does his patented fallaway jumper from the left edge of the lane, and scores! No way Nene was going to block that shot! And it’s good to see that bread and butter shot from Yao again! Houston 6, Denver 2.
9:29 – Yao is called for fouling Nene as Nene went up strong for a shot at the rim. Yao got him with the body, so that was a legitimate call.
8:47 – Aaron Brooks puts up a 3-pointer, which misses, but Yao and or Nene get a hand on the ball about 3 feet in front of the rim, taps it, and it happens to go in! That looked like a complete fluke that it went in like that, but Yao will take credit for it! Rockets lead 9-6.
8:14 – The Rockets run their offense, Kevin Martin misses a jumper, and the ball never touched Yao’s hand during the possession.
7:09 – Kyle Lowry checks into the game for Aaron Brooks. The ball gets swung around on his first possession, never touches Yao, and Lowry lofts a 3-pointer with four seconds on the shot clock that misses.
6:23 – Nene takes the ball strong to the hole along the baseline, Yao reacts and bumps into Nene from behind to create contact, but no foul is called on Yao. Pinned underneath the basket, Nene spins back the other way along the left baseline, puts up a tough fadeaway jump hook over Yao, which misses. Yao grabs the rebound, and Nene looks quickly at the ref wondering why no foul was called.
5:51 – Denver calls timeout. Yao checks out of the game right on schedule after 6 minutes and 9 seconds of action. Rockets lead 14-13.
Since it’s 2:00am as I write this, I’ll have more on Sunday after I’ve had time to review the rest of the game.