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Yao’s knee is fine

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
by John

As expected, Yao’s right knee was fine at practice today. There was no swelling or pain. It was just a little sore, and it shouldn’t stop him from playing in Game 2. His trainers wanted to put ice on the knee as a precaution, at which time he joked, “Oh no, not the C-cups again.”

Click here for more photos of Yao at the practice.

When he was asked what kind of defensive changes the Lakers would make on him in Game 2, he joked that he would call his friend Sun Yue (from the Chinese National team who is also on the Lakers roster) to find out.

Rockets shake up LA with Game 1 upset

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
by John

I know many of you are like me after watching what we witnessed against the Lakers Monday night. Words can’t explain the amazement Yao and Rocket fans must be feeling after they shocked the basketball world with a 100-92 victory IN LOS ANGELES against the vaunted Laker machine in Game 1.

There was no 4th quarter collapse, nor a dramatic buzzer-beating shot that made you feel like the Rockets were lucky to win it. Instead, as the game progressed you actually felt they could win this thing, and would deserve it. What’s going on here?.

And Monday night Yao Ming showed casual basketball fans who are just tuning into this series what his fans, and Rocket fans, have known for years: that Yao will do whatever he can to not let his team down. His return from the tunnel was mini-Willis Reed moment.

No one knows if the Rockets will win this series, but if they don’t, at least Yao’s toughness will never be questioned as it once might have.

When he went down in the fourth quarter with 4:54 remaining in tremendous pain after bumping knees with Kobe Bryant, you had to think during the commercial break that the season might be lost. It was so demoralizing to see him go down like that and writhe in pain. I was soon thinking the worst: a 4-game sweep. The basketball gods couldn’t be this cruel, could they?

As the commercial continued, I tried not to panic, but to suck it up and think positive thoughts. After all, I have banged my knees several times, as I’m sure all of us have, and when it happens, it’s got to be one of the most painful things you can experience. Just a few weeks ago I banged my knee in a bus, collapsed into a seat and was completely paralyzed because of the pain, similar to how Yao looked as he fell to the floor. But after a few minutes, I felt lucky that I got my range of motion back and could actually walk. Surely, that must be what Yao would do, right?

After TNT came back from the commercial, we got to see what could become one of the most memorable sports moments in Rockets history, and it didn’t happen on the court. It was Yao telling trainer Keith Jones in the tunnel on the way to the locker room to get his knee checked out that he wanted to go back into the game. He then stretched his knee a little bit, said it was okay, then headed back to the court still with a grimace on his face.

Yao would check back into the game, and it wouldn’t just be a token experience with him hobbling around out there filling up space. No, instead he would hit a 20-foot jumper with 3:18 remaining that pushed the Rockets’ slim lead to 87-81 to give them a little more breathing room (I’ve been saying all season long he needs to take more of those long jumpers, and he’s doing more of it lately). He would also go on to hit 6 free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.

My favorite plays were the three moves he made down in the low post, being very aggressive taking it to the rack for dunks, including the move he made with 3:59 remaining in the 3rd quarter when he was double-teamed along the baseline, but somehow was able to spin around both defenders, elevate and throw it down one-handed. In all my years of watching Yao get double-teamed, that’s the best reaction I’ve seen him in that situation. Jaw dropping.

By the end of the game, the numbers were big: 28 points on 9-of-17 shots, 10 rebounds, 10-of-10 free throws, and 2 blocked shots in 40 minutes of play, longer than normal compared to his 33 1/2 minutes he averaged during the regular season. Oh yeah, he only had 2 turnovers, which we thought was going to be Yao’s Achilles heel against the aggressive Laker defense, but wasn’t too bad considering we’ve seen games where he’s turned it over 5-7 times a game.

I still can’t believe they pulled this game out when no one thought they could actually win this game. The confidence in these guys is growing before our eyes, very reminiscent of last year’s 22-game winning streak. Except now it’s happening in the spotlight right when every game is critical to survival.

All game long you had to wonder as the Rockets built small leads only to have the Lakers chip away at it, how long it would take for the Rockets to fall behind, raise the white flag, and chalk the game up to the Lakers as being a better team.

But Houston continued to will its way to make plays to hold LA off, especially in that fourth quarter where the Lakers have had so much success in their 4 wins over the Rockets this season, outscoring them 127-80 in the fourth quarter. Instead, the tables were turned, with the Rockets outscoring the Lakers 30-25 in the fourth quarter, and hitting 15-of-16 free throws in that final quarter.

The Rockets came out as strong as they finished, bolting out to a 19-12 lead after an 11-4 run. Ron Artest started out making 3 of his first 3 shot attempts, one including a Von Wafer-esque throwdown dunk along the baseline that showed he meant business in this game!

By halftime, Artest was demonstrating his Portland Game 6 return to prominence was not a fluke. He was 5-of-9 from the field with 12 points which included two 3-pointers, along with 3 assists, and only 1 turnover. By the time the clock hit zero at the end of the game, his shooting percentage was thankfully still above 50% (8-of-15), he was 50% from three-point land (3-of-6), and had 7 assists with only 2 turnovers.

And the sometimes-maligned Aaron Brooks shocked a few people in this Game 1 like he did in his last Game 1 against Portland: the Lakers couldn’t stop him either. He consistently attacked the basket and got to the rack multiple times, confusing the Laker defense who didn’t know what to do to stop him. He’d blow by Derek Fisher and then put quick shots off the glass among the Laker bigs on his way 19 points on 7-of-14 shots, and that’s after making only 1-of-5 three-pointers.

I know many people wish he’d throw the ball to Yao more, but who can complain when he gets to the rack like he can to score, forcing the defense to think about ways of stopping him? That can only be better for his teammates as the Lakers will most certainly have to adjust. He’s got them on their heels, and he’s in their heads.

I like what Rick Adelman did with Brooks in the fourth quarter: he paired him up with point guard Kyle Lowry. For a man who only scored 6 points, Lowry was sensational, hitting 2-of-4 shots, making 2 free throws late in the game, grabbing 4 big rebounds, and dishing 2 assists.

Luis Scola had a “quiet” 10 points on 4-of-9 shots, but he grabbed 8 boards and had 2 steals. Just a quiet day at the office for Luis. And we can’t forget about Shane Battier, who in my opinion received a cheap shot from Sasha Vujacic after he had a “free shot” on Battier’s head after knocking a ball away that Shane was about to grab. Vujacic had no right to continue swinging his arm down like he did, and knew he could probably get away with throwing his hand down on Battier’s noggin as a pure accident. The strike right above Shane’s eye made him bleed like a busted tomato. It wasn’t pretty, as I’m sure the 4 stitches Battier needed above his eye. If Vujacic’s haymaker had landed just a couple of inches lower, Battier might be out of this series for good.

I will be curious to see if the Rockets players, after taking a look at the tape, come to the same conclusion I did and are going to try to send a message that they aren’t going to let a cheap shot pass like that, kind of like how a pitcher in baseball will throw a fastball right into the ribs of an opposing player who tried to show them up

If the Rockets keep playing like this, that image of Battier all bloodied could be the signature photo used by ESPN and TNT in their video montages to show the toughness of this Rockets team if they beat the Lakers. That, and Yao hobbling back from the tunnel to come back into the game.

As each one of these playoff games grow in importance, especially with the drama the Rockets are providing to us, there’s way too much to write in one sitting. I could continue to ramble on as I try to put everything into perspective on what this game meant to Houston’s confidence. But rather than try to predict what will happen or talk about the details of this particular game, who can’t help but just wanting to look forward to the next game to see what will amaze us next.

Photo links from Game 1:

Monday’s practice where there was a Steve Novak and Marcus Camby sighting
Monday’s shootaround at Staples Center where he talked with Sun Yue
Action photos from the game
Close-up of Ron Artest’s new haircut

Photos of Yao from Sunday’s send-off rally

Monday, May 4th, 2009
by John

Raymond has posted lots of photos in the forum of Yao and the Rockets attending Sunday’s fan rally at Toyota Center before leaving for LA to start their playoff series against the Lakers.

I love the playoffs, especially after a series has been won. It takes the fan intensity to another level.

Another Yao interview transcript

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
by John

Raymond has translated another interview that Yao gave where he talked about his feelings of getting out of the first round, his assessment of the Rockets’ current team compared to teams of previous years, what they must do in the second round of the playoffs, and his prediction of their chances of advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

I also thought it was interesting to read what Yao said in Chinese about the foul problems he thinks he can get Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum into.

One last word about Portland — they’ve got my respect

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
by John

As Rocket fans, we know how it feels after 12 consecutive years to have disappointing ends to seasons. Well, actually it’s been 14 years because anything short of a championship is a downer.

But in this case, there was something about this Portland team that made me want to follow how their players and fans were feeling after they lost the series Thursday. Maybe it’s because we’ve been through so many disappointing playoff exits like Rocket fans have endured through the years, we know how it feels and Portland and their fans didn’t do anything to piss us off during the series that makes us want to trash them.

From all reports I read, their crowd their the playoffs was very similar to Houston’s in that they were energetic and enthusiastic as you’d expect, but not annoying or obscene. There are always going to be outliers in every crowd that the media might overhype to make the entire crowd look bad, but NOTHING like all those savages in Salt Lake we’ve seen the past two playoff seasons.

It was so refreshing to have the Rockets play in front of a playoff crowd on the road that weren’t some of the most vile and obscene in the NBA. Salt Lake always amazes me because even when you’re watching on TV a Utah game, you can see the hatred in their actions and on their faces coming through the screen. And I thought Salt Lake had lots of goodie-goodies like Donny & Marie! Why do they turn into such monsters once they enter EnergySolutions arena?

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Videos from Game 6, including Yao & Ron’s funny presser

Friday, May 1st, 2009
by John

In case you were screwed by TNT and NBA TV and not able to watch the first half on TV, here’s a pretty good highlight reel that has a little over a minute of highlights from the first half.

Also, click here to see a video of the hilarious post-game news conference with Yao and Ron Artest. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Yao laugh so hard in my life!


Thursday, April 30th, 2009
by John

No one really knew what to expect Thursday night before Game 6 between the Rockets and Blazers. Would the Rockets step up and finally show their fans and the world that they are for real? Or would the pressure of potentially blowing another two-game lead in a series be their downfall, and undoubtedly change how this team is constituted during the off-season?

Yao Ming posterizes Joel Przybilla near the end of the second quarter on the way to one of the most inspiring games of Yao’s NBA career.

After all, twelve years for the Rockets to win a playoff series is a long, long time, and the natives were getting restless. Just think, a Houston kid who entered the first grade in 1997 could have gone through all of elementary school, junior high, and graduate as a senior in high school and never have seen the Rockets win a playoff series. That would leave any fan skeptical they could close the deal Thursday.

Well, the Rockets smashed all doubts (at least for a few nights) that they can play their best in a huge playoff game to ultimately win a series. Thursday night they got off to a good start, led by 15 points at halftime, and never relinquished the lead as their defense clamped down, holding the Blazers to 42% shooting and no more than 20 points each quarter. It was a milestone victory that could change how this team is perceived for years, putting a little skip in the step of their fans, and themselves, for the next few days before Game 1 against the Lakers Monday night.

With this win, I was GLADLY proven wrong about my prediction that the Rockets would lose the series. But even the most ardent fans who predicted the Rockets would win it have got to admit that after they lost Game 5 in Portland through yet another late-game collapse, everyone had doubts about the Rockets’ ability to win Thursday’s Game 6. Portland had the momentum, and you had to guess which Houston team was going to show up when they absolutely needed a win to avoid an almost certain loss in a Game 7 in Portland.

Also with this win is the fact that the future of some Rocket players who I thought were “on the bubble” of not returning if they had lost the series most likely WILL be back, assuming they are competitive against the Lakers. Those players who I thought were most at risk were Ron Artest, Aaron Brooks, and Shane Battier. They don’t have to win the Lakers series to solidify their standing, but just have a respectable performance so that the Rockets will really want to bring them back to see how far they can take them next season, that is, if they don’t win the championship this season. 😉

Yao goes up for a dunk after a great pass from Aaron Brooks, one of the best executed plays between Brooks and Yao during the entire series.

I’m still bitter that the Rockets lost that game against Dallas in the regular season that put them in the Lakers’ playoff bracket. That could have easily been avoided with a win against the Mavericks. HOWEVER, if you look at how well Denver is playing and how athletic they are, I don’t think Denver would have been that much easier of a matchup. So maybe the difficulty of having to play the Lakers is not THAT much different after all….at least that’s what I’m saying to myself to rationalize that somehow maybe that loss to Dallas wasn’t so bad.

I do think that now that the Rockets are only 1 of 8 teams in the playoffs, the spotlight will get more intense as more people start watching their games, and you know the majority of basketball fans will be rooting for them as the loveable underdog they hope can knock off the Goliaths in LA. That will mean a new generation of Rocket fans could be created by those casual fans getting to know more about Yao during this series, beyond what they’ve seen from him in funny American commercials.

Unless you were in Houston at Thursday night’s game or watching on a local TV station, it’s too bad that most of America couldn’t see the first half of the game because of the Bulls-Celtics game that went long because of 3 overtimes. Hey, I have no problem if TNT keeps a good game on, but for God’s sake, NBA TV should have picked up the first half of that game until the Chicago-Boston game was over on TNT.

I flipped over to NBA TV during that first half I was missing, and do you know what they were showing? A friggin’ press conference from the Orlando-Philadelphia game! C’mon NBA, you should have the right to decide on-the-fly to air games on your own channel for a sport that YOU control and own, even if another network has the supposed ‘rights’ to that game. The big losers in this game were Rockets and Blazer fans, some like me who probably saw some of the most inconsequential games of the season being the loyal fans that we are, but when it comes to seeing one of the biggest games of the season, we’re locked out from seeing it! Go figure!

The same people at the NBA who didn’t switch over to the Rockets game on NBA TV must be the same people who fined Rick Adelman FOUR days after he supposedly made a critical remark of the referees, and only deciding to do it after Nate McMillian was critical of the refs and decided to fine both to make it ‘fair.’

I’m sorry, but I don’t need to be seeing Ahmad Rashad telling me that Philadelphia’s interim head coach is coming to the podium while Houston is mounting a surge to put themselves up 10+ points on the Blazers in a pivotal game!

Sorry to vent, but somebody at NBA Entertainment has to get a clue that there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who were just like me wanting to watch an important playoff game that meant the most to THEM. No wonder NBA TV is considered inferior to the NFL Network from a programming and production perspective.

By the time the game came on around the 9 minute mark in the 3rd quarter, the Rockets were up by 17 points and it was just a matter of seeing if they could hold on to the lead. But let me recap what gave them that first-half lead in the first place, just in case you missed it.

Ron Artest finally had the breakout game we’ve been looking for in quite some time in this series, scoring 12 points in the first quarter to help give the Rockets a 21-19 lead, and 19 points in the first half on 7-of-11 shots. Throw in Yao’s 7 points by halftime on 3-of-6 shooting, 14 Houston bench points (Carl Landry – 6, Kyle Lowry – 4; Von Wafer – 4), and a defense that held Portland to 39% shooting in the first half, and Houston held a comfortable 52-37 halftime lead. If it hadn’t been for Brandon Roy scoring 12 points in the last 6 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, the lead could have been much bigger.

In the second half, the Rockets would push the lead to 20 points and it looked like it was going to be party time for fans in the stands and at home. But then like clockwork, the Houston offense started getting stagnant by settling for jump shots. They wouldn’t score for a stretch of 4 1/2 minutes in the 4th quarter, missing 6 jumpers in a row. But then Wafer hit a big jumper, and Artest got back to doing what he does well (but abandons quite frequently): he attacked the basket, missed a shot, but that was perfectly fine since Yao got the offensive board and flipped it in for the score, making it 78-63 with 7:01 left.

Aaron Brooks would then steal a bad pass from Steve Blake, and 17 seconds later he would hit a big 3-pointer to make it 81-68 would with 6:21 remaining. Crisis averted, and everyone in the building knew there would be no late-game collapse this time around.

For this game, Brooks was the stronger of the point guards (5-of-11 for 13 points, 5 rebounds in about 32 minutes) while Kyle Lowry was only 1-for-6 with 5 points. It seems to flip-flop on which point guard has the better game. If for some reason both have a bad game at the same time, I think that would be just too much for the Rockets to overcome to win any game.

Yao confers with Aaron Brooks during a break in the action.

Artest was phenomenal, more aggressive on offense, not taking as many stupid jumpers, and finishing with a game high 27 points on 11-of-21 shots. Hopefully Ron-Ron has all those bad shooting games out of his system for the rest of the playoffs, and he’ll be back to his old self starting Monday.

Yao was a man possessed throughout the game, intent on doing whatever it took to win. He caught Steve Blake from behind in the first half to block one of his layup attempts. He poked the ball away from a hard-charging Rudy Fernandez in the 3rd quarter, and then had that awesome posterization dunk on Joel Przybilla near the end of the 1st half. He even dove to the floor for a loose ball when the game seemed to be well in hand. It was one of the best games you could ever watch Yao play in which he ‘only’ scored 17 points on 8-of-16 shots, grabbed 10 boards, and had 2 blocks.

About that time he dove to the floor, Yao would say post-game:

“At that time, the way I feel, we were so close to the win. We believe that body language right there — sacrificing ourselves, get on the ground — that would just send a message to the rest of our teammates that we were close, really, really close.”

This was a “statement game” that Yao admitted was the biggest win of his NBA career, like I had thought earlier in the day he would admit. It was a game that had him so wired, he couldn’t get a full nap in earlier in the day, having it cut short by 1 1/2 hours because he was thinking of “game plans and technical problems.”

In a way, a triumph in this series is something I thought would be poetic justice if the Rockets could advance for the first time without McGrady around. Ever since McGrady reported to training camp out of shape, was forced to take 2 weeks off during the season to get himself in shape, then pulled the stunt where he decided to get knee surgery and didn’t even tell his employer who pays him $20+ million a year about it first, you had to hope the Rockets could pull though with a dramatic series win in this year’s playoffs after having endured so much drama during the McGrady era.

Yao hit the floor hard after a foul by Greg Oden. Yao was okay, though, and would continue to play on.

Yao was all smiles during the post-game news conference as he and Ron Artest yucked it up with the press. Click here and here to see photos from the game and afterwards.

Speaking of McGrady, his worst nightmare must be coming true. Not only did his team advance to the second round without him, but he is now in an even more awkward position since HE PICKED THE LAKERS LAST WEEK TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, MEANING HE DOESN’T THINK HIS VERY OWN TEAM IS GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT THEM. Forget that he said he originally qualified it by saying something like “IF the Lakers beat the Rockets, they’ll win the championship,” because of some lousy excuse that his cellphone signal crapped out during the very moment in time he claims he said that. Just another long list of stupid things McGrady has said over the years. Has he been hanging out with Joe Biden?

Before closing this one out and moving on to thinking more about the Lakers in the coming days, I’ve got to say that I have a ton of respect for just about all the Portland players, and I feel bad that any team had to lose this series. They were real sportsmen. If the Rockets had beaten Utah, I could have cared less since just about everyone who is a Houston fan hates those guys. On the other hand, Nate McMillan is an excellent coach and seems like a calm, nice person, Brandon Roy has a ton of class, and I feel bad for Greg Oden who is a good guy, but had a bad game Thursday night by missing a dunk, turning the ball over in the post, scoring only 3 points, and didn’t have a good series overall.

But just like Hakeem got the better of Shaq in the 1995 NBA Finals when Shaq was still new and raw in the league, later in his career Shaq would get payback against Hakeem by dominating him as Dream entered the twilight of his career, and that’s what could happen with Oden and Yao in about 5 years. Until that happens, though, I’m ready to see Yao do some dominating over the next couple of weeks against the Lakers.

Is this the biggest game of Yao’s Rocket career?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009
by John

I think Game 6 in Houston is definitely the biggest in Yao’s career in Houston. That’s because if they blow the 3-1 lead they had in this series, the cacophony of questions from the media before Game 7 will rise to an all-time level. Do you guys agree?

I was going to say it was the biggest game of his ENTIRE career, but I think the game Yao played with China to beat Germany to advance to the semifinals in the Olympics was the biggest of his career. If they had not won that game, the Olympics would have been considered a failure in Yao’s mind.

So maybe that will take some of the pressure off of Yao, if he’s feeling too much before tonight’s game.

Rockets can’t hold another 4th quarter lead

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
by John

Before the Houston-Portland series began, there was a reason why I picked the Blazers to win the series, which I’ll get into again in a little bit. But for 3 of the 4 games in this series before Tuesday night’s game, I was glad to see the Rockets were on track to put to rest many of the concerns I had for them – like how they blew that last road game of the regular season in Dallas that could have made their playoff path easier. That loss was scarily reminiscent of them blowing that 14-point lead against Chicago soon after the All-Star break.

Yao Ming was steaming after realizing the Rockets would lose Game 5, and all the starters were pulled late in the game once coach Rick Adelman threw in the towel. Click here for more photos from the game.

In both of those games, they folded when the pressure got tight, didn’t execute, and forgot how to play on the road. I had concerns that Aaron Brooks and Ron Artest would not be able to execute, and that Shane Battier’s offensive output would disappear when he has proved he has the ability to score.

But after they showed their mettle and went up 3-1 in their series with Portland, I was beginning to think all of my concerns were a thing of the past and that these players were maturing before our very eyes.

However, after Tuesday night’s ‘el foldo’ in Portland where they let the Blazers go on a 15-0 run in the 4th quarter to win the game and stay alive in the series, those former concerns are now back.

Granted, you’ve got to give the Rockets credit for battling and staying in the game when it looked like they were going to get blown out in the first quarter when they fell behind 23-13. That’s one thing about this post-McGrady Rocket team where you can give them props – they always battle to stay in games and never really get blown out.

But like we’ve seen several times before when the Rockets lose 4th quarter leads…Ron Artest ends up making bad shot selections, and Aaron Brooks tries to do too much penetrating and shooting rather than running the offense. There’s a time and place for Brooks to attack, but in the 4th quarter of a tight game, he’s got to be smarter and understand when the pace of the game slows down, you can’t try to attack the rim and go in for layup attempts when you’ve got a 7-footer in Joel Pryzbilla guarding the basket.

Brooks obviously took way too many shots (20) and made only 6. Three of those 14 misses included getting blocked 3 times. He was also only 1-for-8 from the 3-point line, and 3-for-13 overall in the second half. How could the guy who was so killer in Game 1 be so bad just a few games later? His inconsistency is a problem and is one of the concerns I thought could be an impediment to him becoming a star in this league.

And why in the world is he taking 8 three-pointers? That means he’s panicking too much on offense, and it’s hard to believe Rick Adelman let him play so much of this game when I thought Kyle Lowry was doing a great job at least running the offense by giving up his own shot and getting the ball to others.

I’ve been one of Brooks’ biggest supporters this season for being a scoring guard first more than a point guard, which is okay to me. But when he’s not having a good shooting night, he can’t be McGrady-like and keep firing away when he’s got some good shooters around him, like Yao Ming.

Although Ron Artest was pretty good on defense and had 5 assists, he was terrible shooting the ball (again), hitting only 3-of-9 shots, hoisting up ill-advised shots (AGAIN!) in that pivotal fourth quarter run, and turning the ball over 4 times in the game.

I don’t know why the hell Adelman can’t get through to Artest to play smarter on offense. At some point, you’ve got to hold the coach accountable for his players’ dumb execution on offense. Idleman says in post-game news conferences the same thing over and over, that the offense isn’t “patient enough,” which is a euphemism for jacking up terrible shots and not trying to find Yao. At some point you would think he would start benching or fining players for not executing the way he specifically demands it. It’s like the inmates are running the asylum in the fourth quarter with the warden nowhere to be found.

And of course, Shane Battier pulled another one of his disappearing acts on offense again. 1-for-3 for 3 points. The Rockets really need a veteran like him to step up on the road against a tough team and crowd, especially when a trigger-happy point guard who is having a bad night shooting needs someone to take the scoring burden off of him.

It’s games like these from Battier that make me believe if the Rockets can’t win this series when they were right on the verge of closing a team out, then enough is enough: you’ve got to do something and move in a different direction because you can’t afford for your small forward to go disappearing like that.

I really believe as Brooks and Battier go, so go the Rockets.

On top of Idleman not being able to control how his players react in crunch time on the road, just as important…HOW CAN HE LET THE BLAZERS GO ON A 15-0 RUN TO ERASE A 4-POINT LEAD WITHOUT CALLING TIMEOUT AND GETTING LUIS SCOLA BACK IN THE GAME?

Scola was unstoppable in the first quarter with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. He picked up his 4th foul in the 3rd quarter, which put him out of the game, but for God’s sake why would Idleman wait so long to get him back in there when they needed point production. An absolute travesty!

And one thing I’m sure everyone will say that should have been done more is true to an extent: that Yao Ming should have gotten the ball more. Yao did take 12 shots and made 7 of them to score 15 points. And Adelman seemed resolved to ride Yao as much as he could by playing him close to 40 minutes in this game. But after watching Yao in this series, I’m going to say something that no one is really saying in the media: I don’t think Yao is really doing enough to get himself open.

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Portland is complaining about the refs, too

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
by John

Blazer coach Nate McMillan isn’t happy about the way his team is being officiated. But all they have to do is look at the tape in Game 4 of at least 3 bogus calls that Brandon Roy got against Houston players. One was in the 4th quarter against Battier when he didn’t even touch Roy as he scored on a layup, and another one was earlier in the game when Yao was standing on the baseline and Roy drove right into him.

And let’s not forget all the times that Yao is manhandled and no calls are made.

We’re all frustrated by how the NBA is the worst officiated league in major sports, and I don’t blame McMillan if he’s frustrated and voices his displeasure. But if he’s going to bring it up for his big men on Yao, then he should also mention how Roy is being babied by the refs, too, like he’s Michael Jordan or something.

And about that 101-83 foul discrepancy between Portland and Houston…there’s a reason for that: PORTLAND TAKES MORE JUMP SHOTS THAN HOUSTON.

That said, from what I’ve seen in McMillan in post-game news conferences, he seems like a class act and I hold no ill will against him.