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<  Yao on the court, and his most recent game  ~  Game #23: Detroit Pistons vs Houston Rockets

PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:10 am
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm
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Rockets seek answers with Pistons coming to town
Detroit at Houston, Wednesday, 7 p.m.


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Damien Pierce
Rockets.com Staff Writer



HOUSTON -- The Rockets are returning home from a three-game road trip with a .500 record and two injured starters.

Unfortunately, the news doesn't get any better from there.

Nearly a month after opening the season with their best start in a decade, the Rockets are reeling from inconsistent play on both ends of the floor heading into Wednesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons.

Houston, which has lost 10 of its past 15 games, hasn't been able to establish an offensive rhythm under first-year coach Rick Adelman.

On top of that, the Rockets have struggled to string together defensive stops in recent games, slipping from second to sixth in the NBA in points allowed.

The up-and-down play has left the Rockets searching for answers.

"We're 11-11 right now," Adelman said. "All we can do is look at this and evaluate it. A game and a half ago, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. But now, we're not feeling very good. Now, we've got to go home and try to turn it around against some good teams."

The Rockets expected some growing pains to begin the season since they were adjusting to a new offense and dealing with a brutal early schedule. Besides playing some of the league's best teams in the first quarter of the season, Houston has played 14 of its first 22 games on the road.

Still, the Rockets would rather forget their most recent road trip.

After cruising to a double-digit halftime lead over Toronto on Sunday, the Rockets have been in a funk. Houston squandered a 14-point advantage to Raptors, thanks largely to an 11-point effort in the third quarter. The Raptors, meanwhile, got hot against Houston's porous defense on their way to a 13-point win.

Less than 24 hours later, things didn't any better against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers, taking advantage of 22 Houston turnovers, bolted to a 31-point advantage before the Rockets staged a fourth-quarter comeback to make things a little more respectable. Houston still left town with another double-digit loss.

What went wrong in those two disappointing setbacks? Some of everything.

"The way we came out in the start (against Philadelphia) was kind of a continuation of (Sunday's game against Toronto) in the second half," Adelman said. "They were quicker in every area of the game. We made a ton of mental mistakes defensively -- things we talked about, we didn't carry out onto the court. You know you've got to play with energy and you've got to play with intelligence. We didn't do either one."

The most obvious issues have been on the offensive end.

Since the season tipped off, the Rockets have struggled to adapt to Adelman's read-and-react, high-motion offense. Before Tuesday's action, Houston was shooting a collective 44.2 percent -- good enough for only 19th in the NBA. The numbers are even worse from three-point range, where Houston is sinking only 31.8 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. That's third lowest mark in the league.

The shooting has been so frigid that opponents are daring anyone other than Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming to beat them. Houston's two All-Stars have been surrounded as soon as they've touched the ball in recent games, leaving others open on the perimeter.

Right now, no one wearing a Rockets jersey is making opponents pay for doubling their two stars.

"We have to find people who are going step up and help out," Adelman said. "There's nothing that Yao's going to be able to do if they're going to put three or four guys around him if we don't make them pay."

The most troubling part, according to McGrady, is that the team becomes stagnant whenever things aren't going well on the offensive end.

"We go back to isolation plays and everybody is stationary and standing around watching whoever has the ball," McGrady said. "It is not a good offense for us, just standing around watching a guy work. Our offense is really based on motion and movement of defenses."

Because of those struggles, the Rockets haven't responded well when things have taken a turn for the worse.

When Toronto and Philadelphia made second-half runs, the Rockets couldn't knock down a shot to stop the bleeding. Yao was surrounded by sagging defenses, while McGrady was trapped every time he caught the ball on the perimeter so that he couldn't attack the paint. The offensive struggles forced missed shots and turnovers, leading to transition buckets in the other direction when Houston could least afford them.

The Rockets are well aware that's an area where they have to get better.

"We just need to figure out what our strength is when things aren't going well, especially when teams take away Tracy and Yao," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "That's really the only difference right now."

The Rockets will try to find those answers against a team that has been hot over the past few weeks.

While playing against a schedule filled with teams below .500, the Pistons have reeled off six wins in their past seven games. But they've looked good doing it. Detroit scored at least 100 points in five of those wins.

The Rockets, meanwhile, could be without two starters. McGrady is listed as day-to-day after spraining his right ankle in the loss to Philadelphia, while Rafer Alston has missed the past two games with a strained groin. The point guard is also listed day-to-day.

Still, the Rockets are hoping to find some answers for their recent struggles.

"We'll look at it and evaluate it," Adelman said. "Everybody has to evaluate how they can do better.''





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Records: Houston (11-11), Detroit (14-6)
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Toyota Center
TV/Radio/Spanish Radio: FSN Houston, ESPN / SportsRadio 610 AM / 850 AM in Spanish
Stream Video: http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/espn360/player

Injury Update: G Tracy McGrady (sprained right ankle) and G Rafer Alston (strained groin) are questionable for the Rockets; G Rodney Stuckey (left hand surgery) is out for the Pistons.

Pistons Update: The Pistons have won six of their past seven games, but only one of those victories came over a team with a winning record. That's not to say Detroit hasn't been impressive. The Pistons reeled off four straight 100-point performances over the current seven-game stretch, marking the first time since 1990 that they had such a run. They're doing it on defense as well. Detroit is allowing the second fewest points in the NBA.



Projected Starting Lineup:



ROCKETS

Pos Player PPG RPG
G Steve Francis 5.8 2.4
G Tracy McGrady 24.6 5.2
F Shane Battier 8.1 4.5
F Chuck Hayes 3.1 5.8
C Yao Ming 21.5 10.0




PISTONS

Pos Player PPG RPG
G Chauncey Billups 17.1 2.9
G Rip Hamilton 17.3 3.6
F Tayshaun Prince 14.2 5.2
F Antonio McDyess 11.0 7.3
C Rasheed Wallace 14.0 7.3


Last edited by TheRoxRedGlare on Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:21 am
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm
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Marcio Jose Sanchez : AP
Rockets stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady will be looking for teammates
to step up and play their parts as the team tries to stay above .500.






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Rockets coach Rick Adelman said if
his team could toughen up defensively
and run its offense, it would stay on the
winning course.
David J. Phillip: AP




Dec. 12, 2007, 1:42AM


Frustrated Rockets search for answers, production


By JONATHAN FEIGEN
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle


Yao Ming sat alone on his side of the Wachovia Center visitors' locker room, with his brow gathered low and his voice reduced to a whisper as he called his team "soft."

Tracy McGrady limped slowly toward the team bus, offering a less harsh review but no more solutions other than the need for "other guys" to make plays.

Coach Rick Adelman had said the Rockets need to examine themselves, to get back to playing tough defense and running their offense, but mostly to find the determin-ation that had become so fragile.

A season ago, the Rockets had come to Philadelphia and pounded the 76ers by 50 points, the third-largest road win in NBA history. After the game, they happily milled around the locker room, eating cheese steaks and joking. On Monday, they had fallen behind by 31, then after the game quickly rushed out of town, as if the sooner the charter could go wheels up, the sooner they could leave behind what they had become.

It was not that easy, of course, with the Rockets' progress six weeks into the season limited to their ability to describe their frustration with what has gone wrong.

"This team has to evaluate itself," Adelman said. "We're 11-11. At this point, that's kind of where we should be. We have really been up and down. The only way we're going to turn it around is within ourselves, that's from the coaches to the players. Everybody has to evaluate what they can do better, not looking at other people, 'what can you do better?' And stay together as a group."

The problems have become far more evident than the solutions, especially offensively. When teams surround Yao inside and send help against McGrady outside, the offense has bogged down badly. With the Rockets making just 31.8 percent of their 3-pointers, ranking 28th in the NBA, the team has gone from Yao and McGrady trying to beat the double-teams to waiting for help that has not come.

"It seems like a lot of teams have figured us out now," McGrady said. "Double-team myself. Double-team Yao. They do that; that puts the onus on the other guys to make plays. It's not happening. It's really not happening. I got off to a hot start (Monday), and they started taking the ball out of my hands. We don't know what to do. It's been going like that the past few games. Maybe I need to start (games) not making shots and pass the ball so they could single-cover everybody."




Others must step up


In Monday's 100-88 loss, McGrady made five of seven shots in the first quarter, then took just two more, missing both on drives, before going out early with a sprained ankle.

Yao made three of 11 shots for his 12 points, never taking more than 11 shots in the three-game road trip.

"He's got three and four guys around him," Adelman said. "We have to have people step up and make plays and take the pressure off him. He gets frustrated. It's my job to try to figure a way to get him the ball better. When you come down the court to start the game and they got three guys standing around him, there is nothing he can do about it unless people make them pay. If you do that, they got to play him straight-up, and not many people can play him straight-up.

"We have to find people who are going to step up and help out. There's nothing Yao's going to be able to do if they put three and four guys around him if we don't make them pay."

Adelman continues to preach more motion to get the offense going. That has worked on occasion. But when the Rockets struggle, instead of going more to their motion-based offense, they have fallen back on watching McGrady try to create on his own.

"It makes it too hard on Tracy and Yao when everybody is standing around," Adelman said. "Teams lock in on them. And we have not shot the ball well as a team. We have to move players, and we have to move the ball so those guys don't have people locked in when they do get it. I think we can get them the ball in the same spots, but we can do it when moving the ball instead of just isolation.

"It's not the same offense we tried to run in Sacramento because we had different players there. But you look at all the great players, you have to do some things and free them up. We give it to Tracy and say, 'OK, overpower them.' It's too hard on him, especially when the rest of the team isn't shooting well."

The Rockets around Yao and McGrady, however, have become accustomed to deferring offensively.




What's Plan C?



"I just think everybody is just waiting for someone else to do it, whether it is an offensive play or defensive play," Steve Francis said. "You just have to step up and do it. Somebody has to be willing to take the chance. On the offensive end, we're just complacent. Nobody is being aggressive."

Said Shane Battier: "We just need to figure out what our strength is when things are not going well, especially when teams take away Tracy and Yao. We're struggling to find that right now.

"We need to stay the course. It does none of us good to start pointing fingers. We need to believe in the plan, work towards that. That's the only way you get through tough times."

Barring the injury-wrecked 2005-06 season, these would qualify as the Rockets' toughest times since the 6-11 start in 2004-05. They turned that season around with key additions. This time, they believe they must save themselves.

"That's what I told them," Adelman said of his message when the Rockets trailed by 31 and is as valid now. " 'You're experiencing a tough time right now. How are we going to respond?' "

jonathan.feigen@chron.com


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:44 am
Posts: 1433Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 11:45 pm
And the pain continues. The Rox really have a terrible early schedule. After this game, they have the Mavs on 12/15, the Magic on 12/19, and the Pistons again on 12/23. The Celtics and the Magic come again in early January.

The Rox are in a slump, and this schedule isn't helping. They can pull off a couple wins over these good teams, but it's not going to be easy.

The bright side is that after the season gets into the new year, things look to be a lot easier.

Hope Yao can bounce back after a couple crappy games.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:53 am
User avatarPosts: 2422Location: H-TownJoined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:37 am
i hope yao and mcgrady get they act together because this is going to be a tough game to win. but wallace and prince are having off years so far.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:31 pm
Posts: 173Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 3:10 pm
Interesting to see how the Rockets will respond tonight. We might not pull a win, but let's hope we at least some passion and emotion and hustle out there.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:02 pm
Posts: 8236Location: GuangxiJoined: Wed Nov 10, 2004 10:14 pm
somehow i think rox will win this one. y? cuz they are playing a good team :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:01 pm
User avatarPosts: 3614Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 8:48 pm
ThePrivate, got a link for the game?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:02 pm
User avatarPosts: 4061Location: Let The Good Times Roll!Joined: Sun Nov 05, 2006 4:34 pm
bayern wrote:
ThePrivate, got a link for the game?


red posted it on his startup post.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:04 pm
User avatarPosts: 2422Location: H-TownJoined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:37 am
TheRoxRedGlare wrote:
bayern wrote:
ThePrivate, got a link for the game?


red posted it on his startup post.


you funny red. :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:05 pm
Posts: 145Location: San Mateo, CAJoined: Thu Feb 06, 2003 12:11 pm
TheRoxRedGlare wrote:
bayern wrote:
ThePrivate, got a link for the game?


red posted it on his startup post.


The ESPN 360 one? I get a "your ISP doesn't carry ESPN 360" error...


Last edited by Rob on Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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