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<  Yao on the court, and his most recent game  ~  Game 80 - NOK Hornets @ Rox 4/14/07

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:03 pm
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:20 pm
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:45 pm
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm


Tracy McGrady (1) takes note of Shane Battier's late
3. McGrady had 10 assists, and the Rockets had 33.
Kevin Fujii: Chronicle

April 15, 2007, 12:43AM

Rockets find way to stymie Hornets
With Jazz loss, team needs just one more win for home-court edge in the first round

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Chris Paul tormented them again. David West torched them. Marc Jackson stunned them.

The New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets tore through the Rockets because the Hornets always tear through their defense. But after searching for some way to stop them, the Rockets still could not. But this time, none of it mattered.

This time, the Rockets, who got 30 points from Yao Ming and 25 points and 10 assists from Tracy McGrady, rolled to one of their most unstoppable offensive performances of the season with a 123-112 win over the Hornets on Saturday night before 18,238 at Toyota Center.

With the win, their first against the Hornets this season, the Rockets snapped a three-game home losing streak and a four-game home skid to the Hornets.

With the win and the Utah Jazz's loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Rockets took a two-game lead on the Jazz in their race for home-court advantage with two games left. A Rockets win Monday against the Suns or a Jazz loss at home to the Trail Blazers would clinch home-court advantage before the Rockets play at Utah on Wednesday to conclude the regular season.

Until then, they took their fourth consecutive win with the sort of offensive show that is similar to the Suns. They matched or set their season bests for field goals (49), field-goal percentage (58.3), assists (33), fourth-quarter points (38 and second-half points (66).

With that, the Rockets didn't need to stop the Hornets.

"Obviously, we don't want to live like this every night," said Shane Battier, who had 14 points. "Defense is our calling card. It's good to see guys make shots tonight."

Paul, West tough to stop

More than good, it was necessary. The Hornets' 62 points in the second half matched the most against the Rockets this season. They also had 62 against the Rockets in the second half last month in Oklahoma City. Chris Paul had 15 assists. West made 14 of 19 shots for 33 points, his third consecutive 30-point game.

"It's tough when Chris Paul is penetrating, and David West and Marc Jackson are shooting on top," Yao said. "In the shootaround, we talked about them making some shots, but David West had 19 shots and Marc Jackson had another 19 shots. Marc Jackson getting 19 shots, I think that's a special night for him. We had some mistakes on the pick-and-roll in the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, we played better coverage."

But the Hornets could not do much to slow Yao, either. He made 11 of 16 shots for his sixth 30-point game since coming back from his fractured leg.

Still, with three minutes left, the Hornets were within five. McGrady drove for a layup to give the Rockets a seven-point lead. But behind West's 3-pointer, the Hornets cut the lead, which had reached 15 in the first half, to four.

"Basically, it depends on your perspective," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "Both teams either played really well on offense or awful on defense, however you look at it."

But by then, McGrady was rolling. He made just two of seven shots in the first half. In the second half, he made nine of 11, including eight of his last nine. He also had 11 points in the final five minutes.

"I was just aggressive," McGrady said of his turnaround. "I came out in the second half in attack mode. In the first half, I was more trying to make plays, wasn't as aggressive on the offensive end. I wanted to put my will on the game, especially in the fourth quarter."

13 assists for Alston

With the Hornets within four, McGrady sank a jumper, and when Jackson finally missed, McGrady took a back-cut pass from Rafer Alston to a slam and a three-point play, giving the Rockets a nine-point lead and Alston a season-high 13 assists. When the Hornets finally doubled McGrady, that left Battier open for a 3. That game them a 10-point lead. An Alston 3-pointer sealed it.

"We can score," McGrady said. "We have a dominant big man down there now, and myself (who) can score. We just got to get stops in the fourth quarter. Right now, we're not doing that. That's the only part of our game I think we're lacking, executing in the fourth quarter when I think we really need it. When we have a comfortable lead on teams, I think we have to put them away."

The Rockets could not put the Hornets away until the last 2

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:52 pm
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm
Image ... s_his.html

April 14, 2007

Yao, defense and boards: It's his party

Yao Ming made his way toward his locker, pulling a colorful sweater over his head, when he saw his agent, John Huizinga, waiting around the corner.

Yao saw a friendly face and in his familiar self-deprecating manner asked Huizinga, "Did you come to Yao Ming's rebound party, tonight?"

In 35-plus minutes in Saturday's win, Yao grabbed two rebounds. Sure, both teams shot well, but the Hornets missed 38 shots, not including free throws. Yao grabbed the rebound of one. The Rockets missed 35 attempts. Yao got one of those, on his own miss.

That said, the Rockets will not be overly concerned with Yao's rebounding. It can be better, of course. And if the Suns twist their defense in knots around him again, making it tough to get touches, they would like him to beat smaller defenders to the boards and grab a few offensive rebounds on Monday. But it's not the greater concern after Saturday's game.

The real concern, the one that will be the key to the Rockets defense for the next few weeks, will be Yao in pick-and-roll defense.

He has gotten his offensive game back in the month since he returned from the fractured leg. Saturday was his sixth 30-point game since he returned and it was an efficient 30, on 11 of 16 shooting. He is back to being the best offensive center in the NBA, as he has been the past two seasons.

But little attention had been paid to how much Yao's defense had improved before he was hurt.

Much was made about a supposed improvement of the Rockets defense with Dikembe Mutombo in the middle. That was complete bunk. Yao was much better defensively, changed more shots and basically blocked the same number (2.9 per 48 minutes for Mutombo, 2.8 for Yao.) Yao controlled the middle, and was even pretty good in pick-and-roll defense.

He has not gotten that back, at least not with any regularity. The Suns on Monday and Jazz on Wednesday and in their playoff series will go at Yao with pick-and-rolls all night. Everybody would. No one has yet figured out how to stop one, yet. Shaquille O'Neal was routinely swept out of the playoffs by pick-and-roll teams, including the Jazz. Even the Rockets, who were not a pick-and-roll team, whipped O'Neal with it to sweep the 1995 Finals.

But Yao had been doing pretty good job against pick-and-roll ball handlers back in November and December. It's not just on him, of course. Against Steve Nash and Deron Williams, the Rockets will have to be tremendously disciplined. But they will go at the 7-6, 302-pound guy and make him move those size 18 1/2 feet.

He can do it. People did not notice when he did, but it is clear when he doesn't. Yao tends to figure things out. Give him time and tape and he studies his way to solutions.

From now on, that's what he will study, slick, little guards coming around screens. Heck of a way for an unstoppable, 7-6 center to have to spend his time.

Posted by Jonathan Feigen at April 14, 2007 11:53 PM

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:23 am
User avatarPosts: 4321Location: Harvard MedJoined: Tue Sep 23, 2003 2:48 pm
Nice win for the rox, but 2 boards? are you sh*tting me?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:30 am
User avatarPosts: 3746Location: NJJoined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:05 pm
Rafer was amazing. Hopefully he'll play like that in the playoffs and not brick those threes....

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:07 am
User avatarPosts: 10633Location: PhillyJoined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:03 am
chinatown wrote:
Nice win for the rox, but 2 boards? are you sh*tting me?

Yao wasn;t trying to get reb that game, he just ran straight down the court to the other side to try to get an easy basket.

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