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Houston heads into Thanksgiving on a high note

Thursday, November 25th, 2010
by John

A little home cooking and some friendly fans helped the Rockets break their 4-game losing streak Wednesday night, beating Golden State 111-101.

Golden State has an awesome crowd which really gives their young team a lot of momentum when they get on a roll. But obviously they didn’t have that Wednesday night in Houston. They also didn’t have David Lee, who has missed the last 7 games, with Golden State losing 6 of them. Now the Warriors have an idea of what Houston has had to go through with Yao Ming being out.

Speaking of Yao, he was on the sidelines in street clothes again, but this time without his walking boot. So things are progressing with him. The earliest we can expect him back is early December, but it will probably be longer than that.

November 24th, 2010 - Yao Ming offers some strategic advice during a timeout against the Warriors
Yao Ming gives Chase Budinger some strategic advice during a timeout against the Warriors. Click here for more photos from the game.

The Warriors encountered early foul trouble when their bigs (Dan Gadzuric and Andris Biedrins) were forced to the bench, and that helped Houston get an early lead. But Golden State kept fighting back, going on runs to chop big leads down to stay within striking distance.

This time, though, Houston didn’t lose a lead in the 4th quarter like they have done so many times this season. They almost did when Golden State cut Houston’s lead to 88-86, but the Rockets responded with an 11-0 run to put the game away.

When you look at the stats, it’s amazing some of the disparities you’ll see. Houston made 11 less field goals (42-31), had 3x less steals (10-3), had about 1/3rd more turnovers (15-11), had 3x less fast break points (25-8), and had 2x less points in the paint (60-30). So how in the world could Houston win this game with stats like those?

It really came down to free throws, shooting 33 more free throws (51-18) and making 27 more of them (39-12). And they hit twice as many 3-pointers (10-5) on about the same number of attempts (20-19) for a 50% success rate. This is about the polar opposite of the same stat categories in the Phoenix loss where Houston had 20 less free throws (30-12) and hit only 23% of their treys.

Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, who had torched the Rockets in the second game of the season, didn’t kill them this time around, scoring 18 and 21 points, respectively, on a combined 15-of-40 from the field and 8-of-11 from the line. Their 39 points collectively was less than the 46 that Ellis had put up on his own against Houston in their first game.

Meanwhile, Houston’s Kevin Martin continues to be a foul-collecting and free throw shooting machine, hitting 14-of-15 free throws while only making 4-of-12 field goals to score a team-high 25 points. Scoring 25 points on 4 field goals? Incredible.

Speaking of lots of free throws, Chuck Hayes was a machine himself hitting 8-of-8 free throws and 4-of-5 field goals for 16 points. He also had 7 boards and 5 assists. Luis Scola was his consistent self, hitting 8-of-15 field goals for 24 points, although he had the same stat at the free throw line: 8-of-15. Not that great.

And I’ve always said when Shane Battier has a good game offensively, Houston’s chances go up significantly to win. Shane delivered with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field.

The man who really made the most difference, though, was Kyle Lowry, who is getting back to the Lowry we all know and love by scoring 14 points (4-of-8 shooting), grabbing 7 boards, and doling out 10 assists. His plus-minus when he was on the floor was +20, the highest on the team. He’s beginning to earn his $5 million a year contract he just signed in the off season.

Houston’s bench with Chase Budinger and Courtney Lee has been doing better lately, scoring 9 points each Wednesday night. But it was their 3-pointers that really got the crowd going, with Bud hitting 2-of-4 that hopefully bust his slump, and Lee hitting 2-of-2 from behind the arc. Brad Miller and Jordan Hill hardly played, but it was interesting to hear Rick Adelman say that he really likes playing those guys together since Miller really helps Hill on offense, and Hill helps Miller in rebounding.

For Jeremy Lin fans, Lin got some decent playing time and actually showed some good moves on his way to 8 points in 13 minutes.

Random thought:

- Since I have NBA League Pass, I’ve been watching more of the alternate broadcast (road team coverage) of the Rocket games. Instead of listening to Bill Worrell and Clyde Drexler, I thought I’d mix it up a bit Wednesday night. I have to say the Golden State announcers blows Houston’s away. Worrell and Drexler are just too “light” on in-depth aspects of the game, talking way too much about esoteric fluff that doesn’t have anything to do with the game you’re watching. And they made a huge mistake by saying Jeremy Lin was the first “Chinese-American” player in the NBA, that he played in Yao Ming’s charity game in Shanghai, and continuing to talk about “Chinese” basketball talent. Uh, guys, he’s a TAIWANESE-American, and he played in Yao’s TAIPEI game (there wasn’t even a game in Shanghai, only in Beijing and Taipei). Not that they would even know where Taipei is, so to make it more explicit, Taipei is n TAIWAN. It’s really embarrassing to have announcers like this make such errors showing their ignorance of the world outside the American borders.

Warriors make it mildly interesting

Saturday, April 11th, 2009
by Ren

Well, the Golden State Warriors certainly made it more interesting than it had to be but for the most part, the Rockets 113-109 win was a restrained yet persistent sleeper hold on my cerebrum. Great idea to sit Yao out for this one–they didn’t need him and he deserves the break.

Some friends and I are going out to watch the season finale against Dallas and we all fully intend to buy rounds when Yao makes it through the regular season injury-free. Knock on wood. Getting a break against the Warriors gives such small but cherished relief.

As for the game, Luis Scola’s career-high 28 pts on 10-15 FGs shows us that if Houston played Golden State every game, they wouldn’t need Yao. Dikembo Mutombo was huge with season highs 10 pts and 15 rebs along with 4 finger wags of the highlight variety. Ron Artest shot better than last night, finishing with 19 pts on 7-14 FGs and dropping 6 dimes before fouling out late in the 4th. Refs just haven’t gotten used to seeing a man push around professional athletes like he’s shoving small children into the dirt at the playground. I’m getting used to it though. It’s Queensbridge. Park style. You Bogart your way to the rim; no one calls offensive fouls in the park. It’s low down, gritty and grimy. Also, an adequate description of the Rockets’ methodology.

“Blue collar,” that’s what the Golden State Warriors announcers, Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett, kept saying about Houston role players. They just beat opponents to the ball. Sure they have finesse guys like Yao and Aaron Brooks but the rest are working stiffs. Hard-nosed. Scola, Carl Landry, Shane Battier, Ron-Ron, Chuck Hayes, Deke and Kyle Lowry are the real Kings of the Blue Collar Comedy tour… except no one’s laughing when they’re getting out-rebounded by 20 boards. They must have said it 20 times… it’s an apt description.

Barnett, having little to speak of on behalf of the Warriors, is convinced that if Houston doesn’t get saddled with LA early on, they can beat any team that can’t push the tempo on them; and make a legit run to the Western Conference Finals. I don’t know about all that–I’ll believe it when I see it–but I do know the Rockets are already priming those playoff elbows. Which is a good thing. Looking at you, Deke.

Without McGrady, Yao-Artest-Brooks key to win over Warriors

Sunday, February 1st, 2009
by John

Despite a fronting defense by Golden State’s Rony Turiaf and Andres Biedrins that usually works against Yao Ming, the Big Guy got back to the level we expected before his clunker of a game Wednesday night against the 76ers.

Yao got Turiaf and Biedrins in early foul trouble, with both players picking up 4 fouls each by halftime while Yao racked up 10 points in the first two quarters on 5-of-8 shooting.


Yao Ming blocks the shot of Rony Turiaf in Saturday’s win over Golden State. Click here for more game photos.

Yao used his size difference, and their foul troubles, to his advantage by hitting 4-of-6 shots in the second half to finish with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting overall to lead Houston to a 110-93 victory over the Warriors. Tack on 11 boards, and all is right with the world when Yao gets back to numbers like that where he belongs.

Yao did have 4 turnovers, with one coming off a charge that was a bogus call by the refs. Still, 3 TOs coming off mishandling the ball is three too many, but I can live with one of those per game from Yao.

People may think that Golden State is a pushover team, but they’re still dangerous with explosive scorers like Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, and this year’s surprise for them, C.J. Watson.

They shocked the Hornets on Friday night in New Orleans with an unlikely road victory, and it looked for a little while on Saturday night that they might be able to pull off another upset, but the Rockets finally got it going in the second half keyed by Yao’s 25 and Ron Artest’s 27.

Without Tracy McGrady in the lineup because of a Yao-induced ankle injury, Rick Adelman decided to start Artest over Von Wafer. Like I knew he would (unlike McGrady), Artest bounced back and played a much better Saturday in comparison to his 7-of-29 shooting over his past two games. Artest took over in the 3rd quarter, scoring 12 points, and finished with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting, 4-of-6 from 3-point land, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds.

Anyone who thinks Artest is more disposable than McGrady, like I’ve seen some Houston columnists write lately, is off their rocker. But that’s a different topic for another day.

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Rockets escape Bay Area with win over Warriors

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
by John
Carl Landry reacts strongly after a basket against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night in Oakland.  It was Landry's first game after missing 7, and he returned with a vengeance, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 11 points in the fourth quarter to hold off a surging Warriors team.  The Rockets ended a two-game losing streak by beating Golden State 109-106.Carl Landry reacts strongly after a basket against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night in Oakland. It was Landry’s first game after missing 7, and he returned with a vengeance, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 11 points in the fourth quarter to hold off a surging Warriors team. The Rockets ended a two-game losing streak by beating Golden State 109-106.

Although the Rockets held on for a huge 109-106 victory against the Warriors at Golden State on Friday night, I was happy on many fronts, but irate on another.

For most of the game, and especially during the third quarter, I couldn’t understand what Rick Adelman was thinking. I thought it was one of his worst coached games in weeks. I can understand why he had decided to “go small” by starting Luther Head instead of Dikembe Mutombo to match up with Golden State’s smaller and speedier lineup.

But after awhile it was clear the strategy wasn’t working. By halftime, Luther had only scored 4 points on 2-of-5 shooting, while on the other end of the court, the Warriors were grabbing offensive rebounds (9 by halftime, 20-10 offensive rebound advantage overall) and getting to the hole for easy layups time-after-time. The Rockets were lucky to be up 52-50 at halftime. The lead should have been bigger.

Meanwhile, Luis Scola wasn’t doing much on the defensive end down low, and he had only scored 4 points on 2-of-4 shooting himself.

So they weren’t getting much from Landry and Scola offensively, AND they were being torched on the boards and in the paint defensively. Not a good combination, especially in the third quarter when their interior defense was pathetic by letting the Warriors get to the hole uncontested so many times.

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Yao is golden in win over Warriors

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
by John
Yao Ming had a monster game against Al Harrington and the Golden State Warriors, scoring 36 points and grabbing 19 boards to lead the Rockets to a very surprising 111-107 victory.Yao Ming had a monster game against Al Harrington and the Golden State Warriors, scoring 36 points and grabbing 19 boards to lead the Rockets to a very surprising 111-107 victory. Click here for more phots from the game.

I was absolutely astounded with what I saw Tuesday night as I watched the Rockets upset the Warriors 111-107, in my mind probably the biggest upset of the season for the Rockets, even if it was a home game. Here are the reasons why I am very surprised with this victory.

The Warriors are absolutely loaded offensively, scary to play because you’re never safe no matter how big of a lead you may build, and they have had the Rockets’ number in their first two matchups this season with the Warriors winning both games easily. Every game right now means something to the Warriors, too, as the Rockets and other teams are not too far behind them in the playoff race.

The Rockets started off giving the Warriors a taste of their own medicine, coming out running-and-gunning and opening up a 20-point lead at one time in the first quarter! However, you just knew that kind of lead wasn’t going to last because the Warriors are so explosive. It’s no surprise the Rockets would get away from moving the ball and doing the things that got them their big lead, which let the Warriors back into the game when so they could make their much anticipated run.

Ironically, it wasn’t the Rockets getting back to that faster style of play that won them this game. It was the plodding, old JVG-style of halfcourt basketball where one guy (guess who) posts up and wills his way to get a shot off, or gets fouled to go to the free throw line. Not as beautiful as moving the ball around to find the open man to take a shot, but still very effective.

After only averaging 13 points and taking 20 shots in both games against the Warriors this season, Yao Ming was a beast against the undersized Warriors, scoring 36 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 14-of-15 from the line, while also grabbing 19 boards. The 36 and 19 were both season highs for Yao in those categories. Also remember that this is one game after Yao missed a game with an upper respiratory infection and having to labor through a running team like the Warriors for 40 minutes, including no break from the court in the first quarter and the first couple of minutes of the second.

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Rockets blow double-digit lead to Warriors to lose last game of 2007

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008
by John
Yao Ming pleads his case to referee Eddie Rush during the Rockets-Warriors game in Houston on New Year's Eve.  Yao had some very questionable calls that got him into foul trouble and limiting his minutes.  Without him playing a full game, the Rockets made a game of it, but they couldn't hold on to a third quarter 11-point lead and lost 112-95.Yao Ming pleads his case to referee Eddie Rush during the Rockets-Warriors game in Houston on New Year’s Eve. Yao had some very questionable calls that got him into foul trouble and limiting his minutes. Without him playing a full game, the Rockets made a game of it, but they couldn’t hold on to a third quarter 11-point lead and lost 112-95. Click here for more photos from the game.

I knew coming into the Golden State game on New Year’s Eve that the Rockets had no chance of beating the Warriors. So I’m not surprised they lost 112-95 like they did. But I am surprised that the Rockets actually made a game of it midway through the 3rd quarter when they were up by 11 points.

However, that’s when the bottom fell out. The Rockets started missing shots, turned the ball over way too many times, the Warriors made the run everyone knew they would, and they blew the Rockets out the rest of the way just like everyone expected.

I thought when the Rockets had their big lead, it should have been bigger, but they didn’t put the Warriors away when they had all the momentum behind them. When you have Steve Novak playing his first game of the season and he has 8 points by halftime, you’ve got to like your chances.

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3-game winning streak ends against explosive Warriors

Friday, November 30th, 2007
by John
Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady sit depressed near the end of the game as the Rockets got blown out by Golden State, losing 113-94.  Both players scored 21 points collectively.Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady sit depressed near the end of the game as the Rockets got blown out by Golden State, losing 113-94. Both players only scored 21 points collectively.

I hate to say it, but I did mention at the end of my post last night that the Rockets were certain to lose against the Golden State Warriors tonight. And it wasn’t because of “tired legs,” as the folks covering the game for FSN-Houston kept saying. It’s because I think Golden State is just unstoppable, especially against the Rockets, who still have a ways to go before they can beat them when GSW is hitting on all cylinders. They shouldn’t feel too bad, though, because neither could the Dallas Mavericks in last season’s playoffs.

Because I saw it coming, I’m not as mad as I usually am after a loss. The Rockets just don’t match up with them at all (most teams don’t), having lost for the 3rd straight time against Golden State, this time 113-94.

The Rockets started off just as I anticipated, falling behind quickly 18-3 and making only 1 of their first 10 shots as the Warriors started running-and-gunning.

But the Rockets then went on a 9-1 run to get back into the game. Tracy McGrady did a good job not forcing long jumpers, and being aggressive within 12 feet, taking it to the hole and scoring on a reverse layup that impressed the Golden State crowd.

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Warriors’ defense overwhelms Yao without T-Mac

Thursday, April 5th, 2007
by John
Yao was stifled by a swarming Golden State defense all night long Wednesday night.  Yao was only able to get off 4 shots and score 9 points in a 110-99 loss to the Warriors.Yao was stifled by a swarming Golden State defense all night long Wednesday night. Yao was only able to get off 4 shots and score 9 points in a 110-99 loss to the Warriors. Click here and here for more photos from the game.

On Wednesday night, the Rockets showed to me many of the flaws that will lead to their demise in the playoffs. They not only lost to the Golden State Warriors 110-99, which didn’t surprise me. They were dominated. Part of the reason was because they held Western Conference player of the week Yao Ming to 9 points on 2-of-4 field goal attempts. Amazing.

What’s frustrating is that the Rockets seem to have no answer for high-powered offenses like Phoenix (who they haven’t beaten all year), Dallas (who they are 1-3 against) and now the much improved Warriors. What’s even more frustrating is that Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t seem to be able to adapt his game plan for teams like those.

Consistently Wednesday night the Rockets tried to keep pounding it into Yao despite having two or three defenders on him. Golden State was doing an excellent job defensively on Yao, and they made it very difficult for the Rockets to get him the ball in the post. It’s not as easy as people (like the Rocket TV announcers) would think. When the defenders are fronting Yao, and have a man behind him, and are basically playing zone defense against him with hands constantly up, it’s going to be hard to get Yao the ball without risking a turnover or a three-second violation in the lane.

Yet, that’s what the Rocket perimeter players continued to do. I counted at least 8 turnovers resulting from them trying to get Yao the ball in a tough position, resulting in either a tipped or stolen pass. Give credit to Warriors coach Don Nelson for exploiting the absence of T-Mac, out with a stiff back (more on that later).

On the other end, Van Gundy said after the game that the way the Rockets should beat that kind of defense is to make their perimeter shots. Jeff, that’s true. But I’m sorry, if you haven’t figured it out by now, you don’t have enough personnel who can do that consistently. You have Luther Head, who stepped up in T-Mac’s absence by hitting 7-of-9 three-pointers for 30 points, but many of those came when the Rockets were just about dead down by 16 points in the fourth quarter.

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Rockets lose in final seconds from Davis dagger

Thursday, December 14th, 2006
by John
Yao rises up for a layup Friday night in Golden State.  The Rockets lost in the final seconds after a huge 3-pointer by Baron Davis.  Because of Tracy McGrady's absence because of back spasms, Yao played 41 minutes, scored 38 points and grabbed 18 boards.Yao rises up for a layup Friday night in Golden State. The Rockets lost in the final seconds on a huge 3-pointer by Baron Davis. Because of Tracy McGrady’s absence because of back spasms, Yao played 41 minutes, scored 38 points and grabbed 18 boards. Click here for more photos.

The Rockets lost a heartbreaker against Golden State Thursday night, with Baron Davis putting on an amazing performance (34 points, 8 assists) and hitting a 3-pointer with just 1.2 seconds remaining to not only break their heart, but rip it out and stomp on it.

I’m sure many of you saw the play where Davis rebounded Yao’s air-balled hook shot from the right baseline, did NOT call timeout, then dribbled it the length of the court and nailed the trey.

It was a smart move for Golden State to NOT call timeout since the best way to probably attack Houston’s vaunted defense is to do it when they don’t have a chance to prepare.

I replayed that play about 20 times to see if Yao should have stayed with Davis all the way down the court rather than switch off to cover Adonal Foyle as Davis approached the 3-point line with just a few seconds left. Yao actually played pretty good defense on Davis all the way down, keeping his hands up so there was no way Davis could get off a shot.

But when Yao made his switch off of Davis, as I’m sure he has been trained to do by Jeff Van Gundy when in a situation with a smaller guard who can blow past him, it gave Davis just enough daylight to launch the game winner.

You might be able to say that Davis wouldn’t have been able to get off a decent shot if Yao had stayed with him, or even pass it to a teammate for a better shot attempt. But that would have required Yao to be watching the game clock and know EXACTLY how much time was remaining on the clock while simultaneously running down the floor, which is really difficult to do in that situation. If he had switched off Davis with .2 seconds remaining rather than 4 seconds, Davis’ shot might have been a lower percentage attempt, but how is Yao supposed to know that running down the floor while concentrating on Davis?

You just have to give credit to Golden State for pulling this game out. They made plays down the stretch. It was an incredible fourth quarter for both teams. But Golden State was just a little bit better, and they had their star rise to the occasion in a clutch and frantic situation.

Yao also rose to the occasion, scoring 38 points (15-of-32 shots, 8-of-8 free throws) and grabbing 18 boards in a whopping 41 minutes, but in that final situation if you have a guard who can create his own shot, you’re a little better off. The Rockets’ Tracy McGrady has done that many times (remember the San Antonio game a couple of years ago where he scored 14 points in 30-something seconds?). But since T-Mac sat out this game with a bad back, they didn’t have that element in this game.

That’s what really sucks about this game – they were so close to pulling out a victory, and needed a win after losing against the Lakers on Tuesday night and just started a tough 5-game road trip out West. These past two games could have easily been won. Turning the ball over 20 times in each game doesn’t help.

The only bright side to this game is that Luther Head stepped up for the second straight game in T-Mac’s absence, scoring 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, grabbing 9 boards and dishing 4 assists. He’s showing he’s the real deal, and it looks like Houston finally has made a smart draft pick (other than when it’s a no-brainer like Yao). I love watching a player rise from obscurity to becoming a star, and that’s what it looks like the Rockets have.

Rafer Alston also played well, hitting 5-of-10 three pointers on his way to 19 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. He still shot only 6-of-15 from the floor, but we have come to expect that from Alston. As long as he doesn’t shoot lower than that, continues to hit big treys and racks up close to 10 assists, I’m relatively okay with it.

Shane Battier was solid with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting (3-of-5 treys), 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Bonzi Wells played 17 minutes and only made 2-of-7 shots for 4 points, but the Rockets need to invest that time in him to get him up-to-speed since T-Mac’s health is in question, and they need as much firepower as they can get against the Lakers on Friday night.

Rockets wipe out Warriors

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
by John
Yao throws one down in a dominant performance against Golden State Tuesday night where he was played man-to-man most of the night.  Yao finished with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting, 8 rebounds and two blocks in just 27 minutes as the Rockets blew out the Warriors, 118-90.Yao throws one down in a dominant performance against Golden State Tuesday night where he was played man-to-man most of the night. Yao finished with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting, 8 rebounds and two blocks in just 27 minutes as the Rockets blew out the Warriors, 118-90. Click here for more photos.

Yao and T-Mac put on a clinic Tuesday night against Golden State. Yao’s 12-of-17 shooting and 27 points and 8 rebounds atoned for the 8-for-23 shooting abomination and 5 boards Saturday night against Cleveland. Give alot of credit to his teammates, who got him the ball down low many times against man-to-man defense.

After suffering a concussion in that Cleveland game, T-Mac inexplicably was as good as new, scoring 31 points on 13-of-25 shooting and doling out 7 assists.

I thought it would have been distasteful after his last injury to joke about it, but now that we know McGrady suffered no ill effects after getting bopped in the head accidentally by Dikembe Mutombo’s elbow, I can tell you what I was thinking as T-Mac struggled with his balance. I thought the injury might help clear T-Mac’s head of all the negative vibes he has been having this season and make him shoot better….kind of like those stories you hear about where people with diseases or blindness get struck by lightning and are suddenly cured.

Who knows. Maybe that’s what happened. Yao evidently thought the same thing after the game when he joked, “It knocked him awake.”

The Rockets were definitely awake in the first quarter. Not only that, they were on fire, moving the ball around for high percentage shots and layups and opening up a 19-point lead, 26-7. Yao scored the first 11 points for the Rockets, with the last 3 baskets easy layups.

By the end of the first quarter, the Rockets had scored their highest number of points in the first quarter this season, making 64% of their shots and leading 35-20. Yao had 17 points, and T-Mac had 11. Incredible!

In the second quarter, the Rockets kept pouring it on, building a 56-28 lead a little more than halfway through it. Their shooting from the field cooled off somewhat, making only 7-of-19 shots. But they went to the free throw line 15 times, and made all 15!

Juwan Howard made all 5 of this free throws on his way to a 9-point quarter. Yao added six more points to his total, including a powerful one-handed slam that raised his teammates off the bench in exaltation, and he went into halftime with 23 points and a 65-44 lead.

T-Mac lit it up in the third quarter, going to the hole aggressively like the T-Mac of old, making 6-of-11 shots and scoring 13 points to build an even bigger lead after 3 quarters, 93-68.

In the fourth, Yao didn’t play and T-Mac played for just a few minutes since they play a back-to-back against Minnesota Wednesday night. That gave the Rockets’ bench some much needed playing time, and Vassilis Spanoulis took advantage of it, scoring 13 points and hitting 4-of-9 from the floor, 3-of-5 in the fourth quarter.

John Lucas also played fantastic in his 6 minutes, hitting all 3 of his shots and finishing with 7 points. The Rockets finished the game with their highest point total this season, winning 118-90.

I really felt sorry for Golden State, who was playing a back-to-back after losing to San Antonio by 40 points Monday night.

Poor Don Nelson. I bet he wish he hadn’t come out of retirement for this kind of abuse. Not to say the Warriors haven’t done some good things this season. After all, they lead the NBA in shooting percentage. But against the Rockets’ defensive buzzsaw, they were held way below their average — 39%.

Nelson was very complimentary of the Rockets afterwards. “The Rockets are for real,” Nelson said. “We had no answer for anything they did. I was going to attack Houston in the open court and spread their defense, and it blew up in my face.”

Apparently Nelson was also playing a ’spread defense,’ as described by Yao after the game. “I thought after the first two baskets I made they might come to double-team or something,” Yao said. “But I kept looking around and still there was only one man. I think they were hoping we’d get bored throwing the ball into the paint and start to play some perimeter, playing their game. We know their game. They were weak on the inside.”

John

Click here for the game story.