As soon as Yao got hurt Wednesday night against the Wizards in the first quarter, I could hear all of the chatter on all the online forums from panicky Rocket fans about how Yao is washed up, they can’t count on him, his career is over, yada yada yada.
I say to those folks, “Relax.” We’ll learn more tomorrow after a scan is done on his foot. Maybe the good news is that Yao said after the game that the problem felt like it was more in his left ankle, further away from the surgically repaired area in his left foot.
Yao runs up the court in Washington a few minutes before checking out of the game with an injury in his left leg/ankle area. Click here for more photos of Yao from the game, as well as other Rocket players and Washington Wizard Yi Jianlian.
I know the Rockets are struggling, now with a 1-6 record after losing to Washington tonight. One more loss and they’ll have the same record as the Dallas Cowboys. Not good. But coming into this season, we knew there was a very good chance that Yao may not be able to play a full season. So if he’s out for a few games, or even a couple of weeks, you had to know they had built Yao’s prospective absence into their plans. That’s why they went out and got Brad Miller as his backup. And you know Miller had to think he might get significant minutes because of Yao’s health, which probably helped him make the decision to sign with Houston.
We all know Miller isn’t the answer to be the starting center for extended minutes, but there aren’t that many centers out there who are. Maybe talks will flare up again with Erick Dampier, who could give Miller some relief, after discussions were suspended a few days ago, thereby saving Jermaine Taylor‘s spot on the team. We’ll know more tomorrow about Yao’s ankle situation. If it’s an absence for more than a couple of weeks, you’ve got to think they’ll sign another big to provide more help to Miller and Jordan Hill, who has been coming along lately.
As far as the game went Wednesday night, the Rockets fought hard without Aaron Brooks and Yao. Kyle Lowry finally got some playing time. But the Rockets collapsed again in the 4th quarter, holding a one-point lead, only to get outscored 8-0 to have the game put away.
I won’t go into all the details of the game, but the main problem is the same as all of the other losses this season: no one can step up to score late in the game. Of course, Shane Battier disappeared in this game altogether, scoring 0 points in almost 24 minutes. That’s absolutely ridiculous. When Battier doesn’t score, the Rockets lose. I’m kind of getting tired of hearing about how Battier is a “glue guy” when the team is 1-6 and the Rockets need everyone to step up.
I love Luis Scola and I’m glad the Rockets signed him to a longer term deal, but I think the Rockets are really missing Carl “Mr. 4th Quarter” Landry. You could really count on that guy more than any other Rocket in the fourth quarter to step up, even more than Yao. He helped the Rockets win so many games in the when he was here, and his absence is deafening now. I think having Landry and Scola in the lineup at the same time in late-game situations would have been a formidable front line.
I like who we got in return for Landry — Kevin Martin. He’s been great overall, but in the fourth quarter he hasn’t really put the team on his back like Landry did. Maybe he will become that go-to guy. Someone needs to do that consistently. Is it time for the Rockets to try to pull-off the Carmelo Anthony deal? After going 1-6, not as many people, including me, could blame them for doing it.