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Blazers almost burn Rockets in big comeback push

Thursday, April 12th, 2007
by John
Yao and Shane Battier team up to block the Blazers' Raef Lafrentz shot in the first quarter Wednesday night in Portland.  The Rocket defense was stifling in the first quarter, and the Rockets eventually opened a 25-point lead in the third.  But the Blazers fought back and were able to cut the deficit to 3 points late in the fourth.  However the Rockets held on for the win, with Yao finishing with 27 points, 12 boards, and 3 assists.Yao and Shane Battier team up to block the Blazers’ Raef Lafrentz shot in the first quarter Wednesday night in Portland. The Rocket defense was stifling in the first quarter, and the Rockets eventually opened a 25-point lead in the third. But the Blazers fought back and were able to cut the deficit to 3 points late in the fourth. However the Rockets held on for the win, with Yao finishing with 27 points, 12 boards, and 3 assists. Click here for more photos from the game. Click here for pregame photos during the shootaround.

During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game for the Rockets against Portland, it couldn’t get much better for Houston.

They had a 25-point lead and were rolling to an easy victory, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming were tuning up well for the playoffs, Utah had lost to Denver and by night’s end the Rockets were going to be 1 ½ games up on Utah for home court advantage in their first round playoff series (unthinkable about 10 days ago).

So naturally with the game in hand, I was starting to think of what Houston had to do in their 3 remaining games to stay ahead of Utah to secure home court in their playoff series.

But just as I started to think ahead to the playoffs, I think the Rockets did, too.

Like so many times this season, the Rockets let their opponent back into the game. By the 4:24 mark of the fourth quarter, Portland had cut that 25-point deficit to five points, 87-82.

To make matters worse, with less than two minutes remaining in the game as the Rockets were trying to survive the Blazer comeback attempt, T-Mac went down with what looked like a season-ending and playoff-ending knee injury in a scramble for a loose ball. Brandon Roy landed on his leg and knee awkwardly, twisting it and making T-Mac writhe in pain on the court.

In that one instant, all those thoughts about winning in the playoffs went out the door. But luckily T-Mac was able to get to the bench and didn’t go to the locker room, so he might be okay. But we’ll find out soon enough on Thursday.

And as T-Mac watched from the bench, the Rockets held on for a 99-95 win.

After the game, Jeff Van Gundy was obviously disgusted by how the Rockets let the Blazers back into the game, just like other teams have done so often this season against the Rockets. It would seem almost impossible for Portland to come back without injured players on the court, like Zach Randolph, Lamarcus Aldridge, Darius Miles, and Joel Pryzbilla like they did.

Well, I have a theory on why it’s happening….

Read the rest of this entry »

Portland puts away Rockets with Yao and T-Mac sidelined with back issues

Friday, April 6th, 2007
by John
Yao speaks with Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy in a session on Friday before their game against Portland later that night.  It was decided later that Yao should sit out the game because of some type of contact he received during Wednesday night's game against Golden State that hurt his back.   During Friday's game, Yao joins T-Mac in the training room while their teammates played without them against Portland.  The Blazers ended up beating Houston without Yao and T-Mac in the lineup, a significant blow to Houston's hopes to catch the Utah Jazz for home court advantage during their first round playoff series.


In the top photo, Yao speaks with Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy in a session on Friday before their game against Portland later that night. It was decided later that Yao should sit out the game because of some type of contact he received during Wednesday night’s game against Golden State that hurt his back.

During Friday’s game, Yao joins T-Mac in the training room while their teammates played without them against Portland. The Blazers ended up beating Houston without Yao and T-Mac in the lineup, a significant blow to Houston’s hopes to catch the Utah Jazz for home court advantage during their first round playoff series. Click here for more photos of Yao and Van Gundy in their gameday session. Click here for more photos taken during the game.

What a frustrating game Friday night against the Trailblazers. Houston had all kinds of chances to beat a young, sub-500 team like Portland, and to do it on a night when Utah left the door open for the Rockets to get closer to the Jazz for home court advantage. Utah had a 5-point lead against Sacramento Friday night with 3 minutes to play, but they still managed to lose.

In the Rockets game against Portland, Yao and T-Mac played it safe by sitting out the game because of back issues, and the rest of the Houston veterans couldn’t beat a relatively inexperienced Portland team, losing 85-78, which is the Rockets’ third home game in a row to lose!

You can just about kiss goodbye any chance of the Rockets getting home court advantage against the Jazz now. They have blown all kinds of chances this week, losing to Utah and Golden State. But I guess it’s no surprise since the Rockets are 1-11 when both Yao and T-Mac don’t play.

The Rockets started off terribly Friday night, getting down 17-4 after Portland went on a 15-0 run. The Rockets made something like two of their first 13 or 14 shots, and turned the ball over 5 times in the first few minutes of the first quarter.

Houston ended up shooting only 30% in that first quarter and trailed 23-14 heading into the second quarter, and was still behind 40-33 at halftime. The deficit could have been much less if Dikembe Mutombo hadn’t blown a layup right before the halftime buzzer, and 4 other layups had not been missed by his teammates earlier in the half.

You just can’t blow easy shots like that. That is the difference between the Rockets and other teams – Yao and T-Mac are superior to most of their counterparts, but after that, there is a big drop-off in talent level, except for maybe Shane Battier.

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T-Mac turns off Trail Blazer lights Friday night

Saturday, January 27th, 2007
by John

It’s really hard to find anything to nitpick in the Rockets’ 30-point thrashing of Portland, 99-69. They did blow a 12-2 lead to start the game, but then let Portland go on a run to actually lead 20-19 after the first quarter. By halftime, the Rockets still led only 36-34, and I thought this was going to be one of those games where a young or average team comes in and catches Houston by surprise (remember the Denver game last week?).

But that’s when Tracy McGrady turned it on in the third quarter, scoring 17 points to lead a Houston attack with 71% field goal shooting in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense clamped down and held Portland to 14 points on 38% shooting in the third.

From there, the Rockets opened up a 35-point lead at one point (their largest lead of the season), with T-Mac resting the whole fourth quarter. He finished with 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting, and 5 assists.

Big win. No complaints. Short blog. What a rarity. I like it.

To read more about the game and Tracy McGrady’s imitation of Jeff Van Gundy, click here for the Houston Chronicle story.

Portland puts away Rockets in final minute, lose another close one

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006
by John
Yao posts up Portland's Joel Pryzbilla on his way to scoring 34 points, grabbing 9 boards and blocking 5 shots.  But it was all for naught as the Rockets lost their fourth close game out of their past five, losing 89-87 in Portland Wednesday night.Yao posts up Portland’s Joel Pryzbilla on his way to scoring 34 points, grabbing 9 boards and blocking 5 shots. But it was all for naught as the Rockets lost their fourth close game out of their past five, losing 89-87 in Portland Wednesday night. Click here for more photos.

The Rockets lost another close one Wednesday night, this time against the red hot Portland Trailblazers, 89-87. Although Portland has now won 5 in a row, if you looked at the Rockets’ schedule before this 5-game road trip started, you would think this is the one they would have to win because the Blazers werer still the weakest of all the teams on the trip.

The Rockets just got outplayed defensively. Portland had 8 blocks against Houston, the most I can remember against them in quite some time. Meanwhile, Portland’s Jarrett Jack (13 points) and Brandon Roy (9 points) did just enough to put them over the hump with a few big plays, including Roy’s tough shot driving toward the rim with 19.9 seconds remaining that put them up 86-82.

The Rockets were down 70-60 headed into the fourth quarter, and they made a run to get it close down the stretch. With about 41 seconds remaining and the Rockets behind 84-82, Luther Head had a chance to tie it, but he missed a fairly close jumper at the corner of the paint.

To me, that’s what it really boiled down to – the Rockets needing a basket to put big pressure on Portland to respond, but falling short. That’s what great team do, and the Rockets haven’t had much of that lately on this road trip with T-Mac out because of his back problems. Yao will always have a few opportunities in crunch time to do it, but when he’s double-teamed and the Rockets need a player to create his own shot off the dribble with the pressure on, they don’t have that.

The same thing almost happened Sunday in LA when they blew a lead against the Clippers and had a terrible possession at the end of the game that looked like the Keystone Cops, but got lucky when they were bailed out with a foul during a loose ball chase.

Yao continued to showe his dominance, scoring 34 points (17 in the third quarter alone), grabbing 9 boards and blocking 5 shots. But he did only score 4 points in the fourth quarter as Portland played pretty good defense on him.

Other than that, nothing stands out in the boxscore for the Rockets. Chuck Hayes scored zilch, Shane Battier scored two, Juwan Howard scored 8, and Bonzi Wells (6 points) missed 8-of-10 shots, which really hurt. If he could have made just 1 or 2 shots in the final couple of minutes, which you hope to get from an offensive force like him, the Rockets could have won a game that was there for the taking.

Click here for the game story from the Houston Chronicle.

Rockets fumble their way to embarrassing loss

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006
by John
Yao posts up Portland's Joel Pryzbilla Wednesday night.  Yao had an off night, scoring only 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in a woeful 76-75 Rockets loss to one of the league's worst teams.Yao posts up Portland’s Joel Pryzbilla Wednesday night. Yao had an off night, scoring only 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in an embarrassing 76-75 Rockets loss to one of the league’s worst teams. Click here for more photos from the game.

by John

WEDNESDAY, 4/5/06 – The Rockets suffered one of their most embarrassing losses of the season Wednesday night, losing to Portland, the second-worst team in the league, losers of their last 11 in a row, and 21 of their last 23 games!! Not only that, but the Blazers’ last 6 losses were by an average of 18 points!

The Rockets showed absolutely no poise, and did just about everything to give the game away by blowing layups and committing 9 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone. Every one of those lost possessions was crucial in this close, 76-75 loss. It was like the Keystone Cops out there. When Yao is not on, the Rockets can be a very bad team.

So who were the culprits in this loss? Just about everyone, except maybe Luther Head.

Luther scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and went one-on-one against Theo Ratliff on a fast break to hit a sweet reverse layup with 1:17 remaining to give the Rockets a 75-74 lead.

But then the Rockets let Sebastian Telfair drive across the lane, stop, and pop a wide open jumper to give the Blazers a 76-75 lead. The Rockets had over 27 seconds remaining to win it, though.

On that last possession, Luther took the first shot, a three-pointer, with 7 seconds remaining that missed. Yao fought very hard to get the rebound with four seconds remaining, and then made a strong move in the lane with two guys on him to get off a tough shot. But it clanged off the back iron, and that was the ballgame.

The Rockets should have never been put into the position where they had to hit a last second shot to win it. After all, this was the freakin’ 20-53 Portland TrailBlazers. You had a feeling when the Rockets committed 3 turnovers in the first quarter on simple outlet passes alone, it was going to be a long night. It didn’t get much better from there, with the Rockets tying the Blazers at the end of the first quarter for an atrocious 17-17 tie.

If it wasn’t for Keith Bogans scoring 8 points in the second quarter, the game could have been out-of-hand by halftime. Instead, Portland only led 43-39 at the half.

But things went south in the third as the Rockets fell behind 51-41. Luckily Bogans and Luther Head kept them in the game, with Luther hitting all 4 of his shots to score 9 points, and the Rockets going on a 21-8 run to lead at the end of three quarters, 62-59. With Yao only having scored 8 points at that point, you had a feeling the Rockets were going to stop fooling around and let Yao take over.

Even though the Rockets’ defense was superb in the fourth quarter holding the Blazers to 6-of-17 shooting, Houston’s offense stunk it up, hitting only 5-of-13 shots. Yao scored 5 points in the fourth quarter, but missed two free throws late that really hurt. However, those 9 team turnovers in the fourth quarter (17 overall) were the killer.

For the game, Yao had 5 turnovers, and Luther, Juwan Howard, and Bogans all had three TOs each. In addition, Bogans blew an easy layup that could have given the Rockets a 3-point lead in the final minute.

When you couple those turnovers with lousy shooting from Rafer Alston (2-of-12) and Stromile Swift (1-of-5), you now know why Jeff Van Gundy called this team “undertalented” after the Rockets loss to Seattle Tuesday night. The problem is…he’s the guy who brought in most of these players. Does that make him an undertalented evaluator of talent?

You know what else hurts? On a night Alston scored 5 points on his 17% shooting, 10 assists and 3 rebounds, Toronto’s Mike James scored 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished 8 assists. Daryl Morey (future Rockets GM), we can’t wait for you to make your impact!

john@YaoMingFanClub.com

To see the boxscore from the game, click here.

To read the Houston Chronicle’s article about the game, click here.

Yao torches Blazers with 32 points and 13 boards

Sunday, March 5th, 2006
by John
Yao shows great reaction to a loose ball to snatch it away from Portland's Brian Skinner, then taking it strong to the hole for a score.  Yao was incredible again with 32 points and 13 rebounds to overwhelm the Blazers in a 102-84 victory Sunday night.Yao shows great reaction to a loose ball to snatch it away from Portland’s Brian Skinner, then takes it strong to the hole for a score. Yao was incredible again with 32 points and 13 rebounds to overwhelm the Blazers in a 102-84 victory Sunday night. Click here for more photos from the game.

by John

SUNDAY, 3/5/06 – For the past four years, I have waited for the time where stating, “Yao dominated another game” would get old, but I never had reason to say it consistently. I can now.

Yao went off on the Blazers Sunday night in Houston, scoring 32 points and grabbing 13 boards to put away Portland, 102-84.

Surprisingly trailing 40-39 at halftime, the Rockets turned it around in the third quarter when Yao scored 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field (and 7-of-9 from the line) to lead Houston to its highest scoring quarter of the season (37 points).

With those kind of stats, Yao was obviously unstoppable scoring down low with relative ease since Portland’s 7-foot center Joel Pryzbilla was out and their tallest starter was only 6’9”.

Portland’s coach Nate McMillan conceded how difficult it was to stop Yao. “Yao was too much for us,” McMillan said. “We tried doubling him and playing him straight up and he had an answer for whatever we put on him. When we double-teamed, he knocked down his shots.”

Portland’s Darius Miles agreed with McMillan: “(Yao) looked real good tonight. He was patient in the post and did what he had to. Yao is getting better ever year. You can see it.”

Jeff Van Gundy, who has been throwing a lot of compliments Yao’s way lately, had nothing but great things to say again about Yao after the game. Check this out from JVG:

“I think he is the best regular-season center in the NBA now. Some other guys may play better in the playoffs, but he’s the best during the season because he comes to play every night.”

“He’s had many good stretches, it’s just that sometimes we get caught up in the numbers. I look at the whole thing, his pick-and-roll coverage, his transition defense. I think he’s gotten better from his first game in the NBA through now.”

Teammate David Wesley acknowledged the same: “He’s becoming a powerful force inside for us. He’s doing a great job. Yao is becoming that dominating player we really need.”

Yao had the following to say:

“Since I came back (from toe surgery), my body feels the best it has ever felt. And I feel I’m playing my best. It’s a very special feeling right now. I can’t figure out what it is but I’m trying to keep it to the next game and the next game until the end of my career.”

More about the game:

Okay, enough about how great Yao is playing these days. He didn’t get off to that great of a start on Sunday night, going 2-for-10 from the field in the first quarter. But he recovered nicely, going 8-for-11 the rest of the way and making 12-of-15 free throws overall.

In that first quarter while Yao was struggling, T-Mac took over to score 12 points, equaling Portland’s offensive output and giving Houston a 25-12 lead. But their offense was dreadful in the second quarter, shooting 5-for-17 from the field, not scoring over a 5-minute stretch of play, and seeing Portland get back into the game with a 19-4 run.

I was a bit worried that they had let Portland – the team with the worst record in the Western Conference – back into the game and let them hang around. It would have been devastating if the Rockets had let Portland win this game since Houston needs to win as many games possible to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Luckily in that third quarter the Rockets finally got some separation from the Blazers thanks to Yao’s dominance, and took a 76-62 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Rockets didn’t let up in the fourth, staying aggressive and opening up a 92-70 lead at one point. They coasted the rest of the way.

It wasn’t all good news on Sunday, though. T-Mac (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) had to leave the game near the end of the third quarter because of those back spasms again. Man, that’s all the Rockets need. Here they are playing a lot better, still have a chance to get the final playoff spot, and they get another injury. Hopefully it’s not serious, though. We’ll see before a big game Tuesday night in Minnesota, a team also battling the Rockets for that final playoff spot.

But even with Yao playing the way he is, they still won’t have a chance to win that spot unless T-Mac and Yao are in the lineup together for every remaining game left in the season. With the Lakers shocking upset of the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, the Rockets are still four games behind the Lakers with 22 games remaining. I think the Rockets will have to go 15-7 the rest of the season and finish 42-40 to have a chance to play in the post-season.

john@YaoMingFanClub.com

To see the boxscore from the game, click here.

To read the Houston Chronicle’s article about the game, click here.

T-Mac scores 35 in Portland to help Rockets win 3rd straight; Yao fouls out

Sunday, December 11th, 2005
by John
Yao gets defended by the Trail Blazer's Ha Seung-Jin Sunday night in Portland.  Yao got into foul trouble, fouled out, and scored only 9 points.  But T-Mac picked up the slack, scoring a season-high 35 points to lead the Rockets to a 100-86 victory, their third straight win.Yao gets defended by the Trail Blazer’s Ha Seung-Jin Sunday night in Portland. Yao got into foul trouble, fouled out, and scored only 9 points. But T-Mac picked up the slack, scoring a season-high 35 points to lead the Rockets to a 100-86 victory, their third straight win. For more photos from the game, click here.

by John

SUNDAY, 12/11/05 – Remember a couple of weeks ago when the Rockets were in the midst of that tough stretch of games where every opponent was very good, they didn’t have T-Mac, and they were losing every game?

Well, things have started equaling out: the Rockets have played two struggling teams in a row (Sacramento and Portland), they have T-Mac back, and Houston now has a 3-game winning streak – their longest of the season.

Watching Portland against Houston on Sunday night, I couldn’t help but be thankful Houston wasn’t playing a better team. The Rockets were letting a very young team that had lost 8 of its last 10 games with a record worse than their own hang around through the first two quarters, holding only a 47-42 lead. You just wondered when T-Mac, who had 16 at halftime, was going to light it up and put the game away.

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Yao dribbles behind back, scores 29 points to blow by Blazers

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005
by John
Yao elevates for a slam dunk in the first quarter against the Trailblazers Wednesday night, just a few seconds after dribbling behind his back that blew away his teammates!  Yao scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting as the Rockets beat Portland 100-84.Yao elevates for a slam dunk in the first quarter against the Trailblazers Wednesday night, just a few seconds after dribbling behind his back that blew away his teammates! Yao scored 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting as the Rockets beat Portland 100-84. Click here for more photos from the game.

by John

FRIDAY, 3/30/05 – Yao had an outstanding game in Portland on Wednesday night, scoring 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting. But it wasn’t the stats that amazed the crowd, or even his teammates. It was what might go down in Yao history as “The Play.” With 8:24 remaining in the first quarter, Yao dribbled behind his back to get around an oncoming defender, started a fast break, and dribbled half the length of the court to finish with a dunk! It was ridiculously amazing to see a 7’6” guy do this; I think it’s a first in NBA history because there’s no way 7’6″ Shawn Bradley has ever made a move like this before.

After Yao’s behind-the-back dribble, his teammates rose from the bench astounded by what they saw. Even Portland fans were in disbelief with mouths agape of what they had just seen. This might be one of those plays where they ask, “Where were you when Yao made The Play?” [Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away, aren’t I?] It might even change the perception — when it’s certainly highlighted on SportsCenter Plays of the Week — that Yao is not some boring, stiff player.

The Play kind of overshadowed the 14 points he scored in the first quarter. He dominated by scoring on a variety of put-backs and layups, shooting 5-for-6 from the field. With Yao carrying the load, the Rockets had a 31-26 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Yao chipped in another 4 points on 2-of-3 shooting, including an aggressive rebound and dunk that brought the bench out of its seats again. Meanwhile, T-Mac took over and scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shots. For the first time in a long time, Yao had outscored T-Mac after the first half, 18-17. More importantly, the Rockets led 57-47.

The Rockets really started to dominate and opened up a 19-point lead after three quarters with T-Mac and Yao scoring 9 and 4 points, respectively. The rest of the game the Rockets coasted to one of their easiest wins of the year, winning 100-84.

The victory wasn’t unexpected since the Blazers have lost 13 of their last 15 games and have lots of guys out with injuries, including Theo Ratliff, Derek Anderson, Darius Miles, Zach Randolph, and Nick Van Exel.

As a team, the Rockets shot 46% from the field and an impressive 89% from the line (16-of-18). They also out-rebounded the Blazers 42-34, dishing 23 assists, had a 12-6 advantage in steals, and only turned the ball over 10 times.

At the same time, T-Mac only had to play 27 minutes because of the easy victory, and he finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Yao played 30 minutes, and could have played less because of a big fourth-quarter lead, but for some reason Jeff Van Gundy decided to play him more minutes than necessary. It almost backfired when Yao crumbled to the floor after colliding with another player, grabbing his knee while writhing on the floor. I got the same sick feeling in my stomach about a week ago when T-Mac fell to the ground after getting hurt in New Orleans. But Yao got up, shook it off, and checked out of the game permanently. I guess Van Gundy wants to keep Yao in shape.

The one surprise of the game – other than Yao’s behind-the-back dribble — was Joel Przbilla, who had 7 blocks in the game. Przbilla, the 2000 draft choice of the Rockets, was traded on draft day for the rights to Jason Collier, who never really panned out for Houston. Meanwhile, Przbilla is starting to make the Rockets regret they traded him given the fact he had more blocks in March than any other player in the League, and has a good chance of winning the most improved player of the year award.

To read the Houston Chronicle’s post-game analysis, click here.

Rockets win 6th straight, beat Blazers 108-77

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005
by John
AsAs he goes up for a dunk attempt, Yao is fouled by a Blazer player on Wednesday night in Houston. The Rockets won their 6th game in a row convincingly, winning 108-77. Because of the easy victory, Yao only played 21 minutes, scored 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Click here for more photos from the game.

by John

WEDNESDAY, 3/16/05 – You know when Tracy McGrady is your team’s third-leading scorer in a game and Yao is the fourth, and you still win 108-77, you’ve got a lot going for you as a team.

Not that T-Mac (19 boards, 6 assists, 6 rebounds) or Yao (13 points, 7 boards) played poorly. They just weren’t really needed, playing 28 and 21 minutes, respectively.

The Rockets game against the Portland Trailblazers in Houston Wednesday night was close until about the two-minute mark in the first quarter when the Rockets opened up a 30-23 lead, and finished the quarter on a 15-6 run in the last 4 ½ minutes to lead 34-25.

Houston’s shooting was a phenomenal 11-of-18 in the first quarter, with Bob Sura hitting 4-of-5 for 10 points.

In the second quarter, David Wesley continued his hot shooting, hitting an amazing 4-of-4 to add on to his 2-of-2 in the first. Wesley has been., shooting 53% over the past 5 games, and hitting 50% of his three-pointers. Unconscious.

And he wasn’t the only one. The Rockets offense hummed along, building an 18-point lead on a sweet fast break when Jon Barry threw a no-look, behind-the-head pass to Scott Padgett for a layup attempt that was blocked, but Dikembe Mutombo followed from behind to lay it in, bringing the Toyota Center crowd to a roar as the scoreboard read 49-31 Rockets.

By halftime, the Rockets were in command 57-43, and were shooting 57% as a team and 4-of-6 from behind the arc. And even with power forward Juwan Howard out for a month because of a sprained medial collateral ligament suffered on Monday night at Golden State, the Rockets had out-rebounded 21-14 a very young and inexperienced Blazers team. Although the Blazers are young, the Rocket “old men” were leading in fast break points 14-5.

When Wesley hit a 3-pointer – his seventh shot in a row — at the 10:38 minute mark of the third quarter, the Rockets led 60-45 and it was never really close after that. All that remained for Rocket fans was to enjoy the fireworks.

For example, Wesley got the ball on a fast break and drove to the basket, but his shot was blocked by a Blazer. However, Yao hustled down the court behind the break, grabbed the rebound in mid-air, and threw it down two-handed on a rare follow-up dunk to push the lead to 70-51! The Blazers called a timeout, and as Yao came back to the bench, he was greeted with high-fives and a rare mid-air chest bump by reserve forward Vin Baker. The good times were rolling!

The Rockets played out the rest of the game free and easy, outscoring the Blazers 51-34 in the second half. Wesley finished with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and Sura got back to his old scoring self by scoring 21 on 7-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point land. Collectively, Houston shot 8-of-16 from behind the arc.

Portland’s interim coach, Kevin Pritchard, said after the game, “When you shoot the ball that well and you have Yao Ming on the team, there is really no chance of beating them. They have so many pieces.”

The only suspense that remained was if the Rockets were going to hit the 100-point mark, which would send all fans home with the opportunity to get a free Big Mac the next day. Dikembe delivered at the free throw line when his first attempt dangled on the back rim for a few seconds, putting the Toyota Center crowd in suspense. As the shot finally fell through the net, the fans erupted with a deafening roar as Houston led 100-72 with 6:24 remaining in the game . In a rare show of emotion on the court, Deke couldn’t contain himself and broke out a huge smile because of the levity of the situation. Dikembe played the rest of the way, giving Yao a breather on the bench.

Outside of the Miami Heat, who have won 10 in a row, the Rockets are the hottest team in the league right now, having won 6 in a row. They are shooting great (51% on Wednesday) and playing very good defense (35% shooting for Portland). They also had an astounding 24-10 advantage in fast break points, and only turned the ball over 9 times.

The Rockets next play the Boston Celtics, winners of 9 of their last 10 games, in Houston on Friday night. It should be a high-scoring game considering Boston has scored over 100 points in four consecutive games.

John
john@YaoMingFanClub.com

To read the Houston Chronicle’s post-game analysis, click here.

Rockets survive late-game collapse to win 7th in a row

Sunday, February 13th, 2005
by John
Yao blocks Portland's Ruben Patterson's shot on Sunday night in Houston as the Rockets escaped blowing a game where they had an 18-point lead in the third quarter.  The Rockets prevailed 81-80 to win their seventh game in a row, but it wasn't pretty.  Yao had 23 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Rockets in scoring.Yao blocks Portland’s Ruben Patterson’s shot on Sunday night in Houston as the Rockets escaped blowing a game where they had an 18-point lead in the third quarter. The Rockets prevailed 81-80 to win their seventh game in a row, but it wasn’t pretty. Yao had 23 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Rockets in scoring. Click here for more photos from the game.

by John

SUNDAY, 2/13/05 – In every long win streak, you have to be lucky every once in awhile. That’s what the Rockets were on Sunday night. During the Rockets’ current 7-game winning streak–the longest in the league right now–the Rockets have faced close calls against Indiana, the Lakers, and Boston after blowing huge leads in the second half of each of those games. Sunday night against Portland had to be the biggest collapse of them all.

Up by 18 points in the third quarter, Houston let the Blazers back into the game, and even fell behind, but some fortuitous breaks for the Rockets gave them enough for an 81-80 victory.

After blowing the big lead, the Rockets fell behind 72-70, but then T-Mac threw up a prayer near the top of the three-point line, got fouled by Darius Miles, and the shot bounced high off the glass and through the net for the bucket, bringing Toyota Center to a roar! That was the first of several breaks to come for the Rockets.

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