Yao Ming Mania! All about Chinese basketball star and NBA All-Star Yao Ming » vs. Sacramento

'vs. Sacramento' category archive

T-Mac brings back Houston in the 4th, forces OT to beat Kings

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007
by John
Tracy McGrady reacts after hitting a jumper to give Houston a 95-92 lead with 1:19 remaining the fourth quarter against Sacramento Tuesday night, capping an amazing comeback led by T-Mac.Tracy McGrady reacts after hitting a jumper to give Houston a 95-92 lead with 1:19 remaining the fourth quarter against Sacramento Tuesday night, capping an amazing comeback led by T-Mac.

You gotta love T-Mac, who struggled throughout the night against Sacramento but then worked his magic just in time to lead a miraculous comeback against the Kings.

They were down by 9 points with a little over 4 minutes remaining, but finally mustered enough effort to pull out a victory for the first time in 14 games this season when trailing entering the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, T-Mac scored 10 of the Rockets last 12 points (and 12 of their last 14) on an array of jumpers and three-pointers in just 2 minutes and 49 seconds. He started the comeback by hitting a 3-pointer and a long jumper to make it 92-88, and that’s when you knew the Rockets had a chance. Then Bonzi Wells hit two free throws to make it 92-90. T-Mac then banked in a 3-pointer to give them a 93-92 lead, bringing the house down!

The Rockets defense suddenly got solid during that stretch, something it hadn’t done much of all game long. They held the Kings scoreless with great defense, including a strip by T-Mac as Kevin Martin was going up for a layup on a fast break. The ball came down inbounds right along the baseline, and Shane Battier whipped the ball behind his back to save it from going out of bounds. The Rockets picked up the loose ball, pushed it down the court, and McGrady made a juke move at the top of the key to get open and drilled a jumper to give them a 95-92 lead.

With Toyota Center going bonkers, his reaction after scoring his 10th point in the fourth quarter reminded me of when he spearheaded that comeback against the Spurs a couple of years ago. It was great theater.

Unfortunately, Ron Artest (39 points) kept hitting big shots down the stretch which forcedg overtime.

In OT, Luther Head was fantastic, coming up with a huge drive to the basket for a score to make it 107-104 with 32 seconds remaining, then forced John Salmons to turn the ball over with great defense near the sideline. He capped the victory by hitting two free throws after getting intentionally fouled.

Luther was big before OT. He hit some big shots in the fourth quarter to keep the Rockets within striking distance. Overall he finished with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including hitting 3-of-5 treys.

The other hero was Battier, who also hit a big 3-pointer in OT when they were down 102-100. Overall, he hit 4-of-9 three-pointers and finished with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Man, Battier is coming up big this season.

Rafer Alston also hit a difficult three-pointer from the corner to start off overtime, completing a 4-of-7 night from three-point land, and was 7-of-17 overall for 18 points. But he still missed a few chip shots, and how Clyde Drexler can say in this game (and I quote), “Rafer is a great finisher at the basket” is so completely stupid it deserves a firing.

But the star of the game was T-Mac. He was a lackluster 5-of-16 entering the fourth quarter, and was only 4-of-9 from the free throw line. However, he turned it on in the fourth, making 5-of-6 shots when the Rockets needed it. He finished with 28 points on 11-of-26 shooting, and chipped in 12 assists that were piled up mostly in the first three quarters when he couldn’t find his shot.

Reading some comments after the game, I am somewhat surprised there isn’t as much appreciation for T-Mac’s performance as you would think there would be. One writer said that T-Mac doesn’t do the “heavy lifting” and is a “preening diva.” C’mon! He’s one of the best playmakers in the game behind Steve Nash, and that’s a quote from Van Gundy.

In addition, the focus is on how the Rockets almost lost one they should have won, and their defense was terrible before their comeback (one thing they don’t point out is all the layups they missed, which is inexcusable). Yes, all these faults may be true, but I think there is value in seeing that T-Mac still has the ability to turn it on when his team needs it, which is important confidence for him to have as the season winds down and the playoffs get closer. There are going to be games where fantastic offensive scoring barrages are going to be needed to win a playoff game, or two, or three (remember Dwyane Wade in the Finals last year?)

The other factor is that the Rockets are tied with the Spurs with a 33-18 record, an important thing to keep in mind if the Rockets want to have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Every win at this point is a big one.

Rockets pull a ‘W’ out of Sac

Saturday, January 13th, 2007
by John

Man, what a crazy game it was Saturday night in Sac-town. I can’t even begin to talk about the details in this one with the limited time I have. So I’ll have to refer you to the Houston Chronicle story about their 115-111 OT win.

T-Mac was much, much better than he has played the past two games. Although he was 12-of-21 from the field, he hit big shots down the stretch and made 10-of-11 free throws for 37 points. Rafer Alston hit 4-of-9 three-pointers for 22. And Dikembe Mutombo had 18 rebounds in workhorse-like 38 minutes.

I guess my overall point is that the Rockets miraculously continue to win despite how much they want to give games away. In their recent history, it used to be the opposite – they would play well but couldn’t close teams out.

I’ll take wins anyway I can get them, especially with Yao out, but you’ve got to think something special is happening this season despite how ugly the wins they are racking up.

Yao scores 19, grabs 12 boards, but Sacramento still socks Rox

Sunday, April 9th, 2006
by John
Yao goes up against Sacramento's Brad Miller Sunday night.  Yao scored 19 points and grabbed 12 boards, but Miller scored 30 and grabbed 11 to help put away the Rockets 86-77.Yao goes up against Sacramento’s Brad Miller Sunday night. Yao scored 19 points and grabbed 12 boards, but Miller scored 30 and grabbed 11 to help put away the Rockets 86-77.

by John

SUNDAY, 4/9/06 – If there was ever a game that showed how far away the Rockets are from being playoff contenders, this was it. The Sacramento Kings are fighting hard to keep the 7th and final seed of the playoffs, and they toyed with the Rockets like a cat with a ball of string, putting the Rockets away easily in the fourth quarter to win 86-77.

Like many games this year, the Rockets looked like they were on a yo-yo diet in this one. They went long stretches without any food, then went on an eating binge to finally score bunches of points, then went anorexic again.

The Rockets fell behind at the start of the game 16-2, but started playing defense and came back to trail within one point to trail 23-22 with 10:04 remaining in the second quarter after Stromile Swift hit a bank shot and a jump hook from the left baseline. But then Sacramento turned on the jets and went on a 26-9 run to take an 18-point lead, 49-31, with 57 seconds remaining before halftime.

But Houston would rally again and close within 67-65 after a sweet spin move by Yao on the baseline for a dunk, bringing the Rockets bench to their feet with hopes of an upset. Howeer, Sacramento then slapped the Rockets back into their non-playoff place by easily getting offensive rebounds when they needed it, and hitting big shots to hold the Rockets at bay. Mike Bibby was the main assassin, hitting two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that were daggers.

The Rockets also had too many turnovers, especially in the fourth quarter, which kept their scoring production way too low to overcome a good offensive team like the Kings.

On top of that, the Rockets had to contend with some very poor officiating by the refs. Yao was called for lots of questionable calls, creating so much frustration that he was called for a technical foul after a bogus call for a flopping Bonzi Wells caused Yao to slap the ball down hard on the court.

And of course, the refs were not calling fouls for the Rockets. Yao, an inside player, only went to the line 3 times with the Rockets totaling 11 for the game. On the other hand, the Kings went to the line 30 times! And Brad Miller, mainly a perimeter player, went 10 times to the line by his lonesome!

All around, Miller’s stats were better than Yao’s. Yao got off to a slow start, only hitting 2-of-6 from the field in the first half for 7 points. But he did hit all six of his shots in the second half – including a rare face-to-the-basket 18-footer — to finish with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also grabbed 12 rebounds, but turned the ball over six times.

On the other hand, Miller finished with 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including two three-pointers, grabbed 11 rebounds and only had two turnovers. I can’t remember the last time an opposing center outplayed Yao statistically.

Okay, here are the Rocket players who failed to deliver in this game: Keith Bogans made 4-of-9 from the field, but he missed all four of his free throw attempts, including an air ball! And that’s not the first time Bogans has missed lots of free throws recently.

David Wesley was 1-for-4, and his only turnover was a big one with 4:31 remaining that the Kings converted on the other end for a dunk that basically put the game away, 76-67. But since Wesley is still gutting it out with a hurt, painful rib with the Rockets out of the playoff hunt, you’ve got to give the 35-year old some credit.

Okay, here’s the one that hurts. Rafer Alston was 0-for-11. Yes, that’s right. Zero, nada, zilch. Well, he actually scored one point on a free throw, but he missed the other free throw attempt. Sure, he had 9 assists, but he also had six turnovers! With inconsistency like that, the Rockets are going to have to think long and hard if Alston is the long-term answer at point guard. Mike Bibby outclassed him with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting (5-of-10 treys), 6 assists and only two turnovers.

Meanwhile, the player the Rockets gave up for Alston, Mike James, continued on Sunday to show how badly the Rockets messed up last October by trading him. James scored 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting, hit 5-of-8 three-pointers, had 10 assists, and four turnovers. Ouch! Hmmm….31 extra points from your point guard or shooting guard, and I think the Rockets win this game.

On the bright side, Juwan Howard did fairly well scoring 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting and grabbing 8 boards. And Luther Head was solid again, hitting 5-of-10 shots, including 3 treys, and dishing four assists with no turnovers.

The Rockets play the second half of a back-to-back against Utah Monday night. You can guess how that game is going to turn out in Utah. And since Monday night is my wedding anniversary, I probably won’t be able to watch or report on it, a rarity considering I think I’ve covered over 98% of the Rockets’ games the past four years. Probably not a big loss considering how the Rockets really have nothing to play for except pride and a higher lottery pick.

john@YaoMingFanClub.com

To see the boxscore from the game, click here.

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

Walking wounded lose fourth in a row

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
by John

WEDNESDAY, 1/11/06 – For the second night in a row, the Rockets only had 9 players suit up in uniform. Stromile Swift missed his second straight game — he is out for about a week with conjunctivitis in his left eye (I think the Rockets have been hit by every injury possible by now). But they still had a chance to beat a team that has been struggling just about as much as themselves– the Sacramento Kings. However, the Rockets couldn’t hit shots near the end of the game — like always — and they lost their fourth in a row, 88-80.

There is really no need for me to go into the gory details. It was a pretty boring game with no superstar action to keep it interesting. The only star that made it somewhat palatable to watch was former Texas Longhorn quarterback Vince Young in attendance and being interviewed in the second quarter during the Rockets’ broadcast.

Other than that, we saw Houston make only 3-of-20 three-point attempts. Where are you, Scott Padgett? Oh yeah, I forgot…the Rockets blew up the chemistry they had last year by letting you go and trading Mike James in the off-season. On October 3rd, I wrote the following about the decision to not keep Padgett:

I know Padgett can easily be overlooked because he isn’t that flashy of a player, but he shot a team-high 39.7% from three-point territory last year. There were several games last year where Padgett was incredible from downtown to pull out victories.

With Padgett gone, (the Rockets) will need to find someone during training camp who can fill the void, or the media will soon be lameting the fact the Rockets are pitiful from long range.

With this season probably a lost cause, the Rockets must look ahead at rebuilding their roster with youth. I think we’ll see more of Luther Head and John Lucas III in the coming weeks. Juwan Howard, Dikembe Mutombo and David Wesley are probably their most tradeable healthy commodities who could help a team on the verge of making the playoffs get over the hump.

I really think the Rockets are going to need to bring in a young scorer who can be the third option behind Yao and T-Mac, and they can build from there. Especially since T-Mac‘s back can flare up at any moment. They need to bring in a scoring ‘insurance policy’ for when T-Mac cannot play. That means no more bringing in old guys like Latrell Sprewell, Van Gundy!

And if I were owner Leslie Alexander, it cannot be a good feeling to see lots of empty seats at Toyota Center. I am a mini-season ticket holder, and I’m losing money on every game I cannot attend. So I can only imagine what it’s like to be the owner of the team and see lots of empty seats, which means less concession sales, parking revenue, etc. The atmosphere at Toyota Center needs to change in a big way since it is obviously affecting Houston in the won-loss column. The Rockets have the worst home record in the league at 3-11!

So we’ll see if the Rockets (now 12-22) make any moves as they approach the halfway mark of this very long season.

John
john@YaoMingFanClub.com

To see the boxscore from the game, click here.

Rockets come from behind in Sacramento to win 2nd straight

Thursday, December 8th, 2005
by John
Yao shoots over Sacramento's Brad Miller in a stunning game where the Rockets came back down from 14 points in the third quarter to ultimately win 102-95.  Yao had 21 points and 9 rebounds to help the Rockets win their second game in a row.Yao shoots over Sacramento’s Brad Miller in a stunning game where the Rockets came back down from 14 points in the third quarter to ultimately win 102-95. Yao had 21 points and 9 rebounds to help the Rockets win their second game in a row. For more photos from the game, click here.

by John

THURSDAY, 12/08/05 – When the game started between the Rockets and Sacramento Kings Thursday night, I was feeling pretty bad because of some type of bug I caught today. As I watched the Rockets fall behind by 14 points in the third quarter, I was feeling even worse. The Rockets were stinking it up.

But then something incredible happened. The Rockets revived themselves, made a huge comeback, and came away with a huge win. I felt a little better after their explosive 106-95 win, but since it was a late game on the West Coast, I am fading fast and have to file a short report.

I was down on a lot of the Rocket players until they made their huge comeback. Derek Anderson was making all kinds of mistakes offensively and defensively in the third quarter. I couldn’t believe Jeff Van Gundy was keeping him the game. Yao was turning the ball over way too much (he had six TOs overall).

Read the rest of this entry »

Good commentary and audio of Yao’s game against Sacramento

Friday, November 4th, 2005
by John

John Lopez of the Houston Chronicle had some good things to say about Yao after Wednesday night’s season opener. I agree with everything he says about Yao in this article.

Additional commentary from Lopez can also be heard by clicking here (requires the Real Player to be installed).

Rockets win season opener; Yao records double-double

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
by John
Yao and his teammates crack up before the start of their season opener against Sacramento after Jon Barry made fun of coach Jeff Van Gundy to the entire Toyota Center crowd.  Yao ended up scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 98-89 victory.Yao and his teammates crack up before the start of their season opener against Sacramento after Jon Barry made fun of coach Jeff Van Gundy to the entire Toyota Center crowd. To read more about Barry’s comment, please read below. In the game, Yao scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 98-89 victory. For more photos from the game, click here.

by John

WEDNESDAY, 11/2/05 – The “special” potential (a term used a lot by Rocket players lately) that the Rockets hold entering this season was thankfully seen on Wednesday night in Opening Night against Sacramento at Toyota Center. Sure, the Kings got blown out in New Orleans the previous night, but that made a pretty talented team even more dangerous. The Rockets started off slow, but special players and plays helped them pull away in the second half and win 98-89.

Yao lived up to all expectations with a dynamite double-double: 22 points (10-of-16 shooting), 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. He followed the trend from previous years by getting into foul trouble, limiting him to just 25 minutes of action. But some of the fouls were questionable, which I’ll explain in more detail below.

T-Mac got of to a slow start, but ended up scoring 23 points (9-of-21 shooting, only 3-of-7 from the free throw line), grabbing 5 boards, and doling out 4 assists.

But the player of the game, and the only other Rocket who scored in double-figures, was 13-year veteran reserve Jon Barry. It was Barry who kicked off the new season before the game by addressing the crowd, and imploring the fans to do what they did with the Houston Astros’ recent success and get ready for the “Rocket Ride.”

Even more interesting was Barry telling the crowd, “I hope you are as optimistic and excited as our coach,” an obvious jab at Mr. Pessimism — Jeff Van Gundy. When Barry joined the pre-game huddle on the sideline a few moments later, you could see lots of chuckles from almost all the Houston coaches and players on the joke Barry had pulled.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rockets stun Sacramento at Arco

Sunday, March 13th, 2005
by John
Sacramento's Mike Bibby runs into the Great Wall of Yao on Sunday in Sac-town.  The Rockets continue to stun the West, beating the Kings 111-96 in their own gym.  Yao scored 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting and hit 7-of-8 clutch free throws.Sacramento’s Mike Bibby runs into the Great Wall of Yao on Sunday in Sac-town. The Rockets continue to stun the West, beating the Kings 111-96 in their own gym. Yao scored 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting and hit 7-of-8 clutch free throws. Click here for more photos from the game.

by John

SUNDAY, 3/13/05 – Not having won a game at Arco Arena this century, the Rockets came into Sacramento having beaten three of the top four teams in the West: the Mavericks, Sonics and Suns.

Surely the Rockets were due for a loss. That’s what Houston teams are typically known for doing: when they play well and win several in a row, they get complacent and lose games they should win, right? Especially in an arena like Sacramento’s where they have folded multiple times, and with a national television audience watching to boot, right?

Not this Houston team. They are something special to behold in Rocket-lore.

Read the rest of this entry »