Lately, It has been very upsetting to see how average Houston teams have become. I can only assume everyone in town was screaming, “RUN THE BALL!” at the Texans this Monday, but during tonight’s Rockets’ game, I couldn’t figure out what to scream. I could only shrug, “Where is the defense?” and maybe belt out a few chants of ”Run Yao! Run!” For the most part, I was very confused about the kind of offensive team we are supposed to be.
The Rockets lead the league in scoring during the first quarter and are 24th in scoring in the 3rd quarter. This is a pretty significant pre-game statistic that helped me have a better understanding of who we are as a team right now. I think we saw this tonight when Yao got off to a good start in the third and was taken out at the seven minute mark. At this time, Bill Worrell introduced the Yao Clock.
The Rockets started off pretty well by matching the Hornet’s 28 points in the first quarter. Over all, I thought that our bench out performed our starters. Although, one of my favorite plays was a Battier steal, which lead to a nice pass from AB to Martin for a three in the corner. Also, Chuck Hayes came off the bench with some amazing post defense to slow down David West. I definately thought Hayes was robbed a steal, when they called a jump ball on their first face up in the post. Shortly after, Jordan Hill checked in with five minutes left and I really enjoyed his play. Hill threw a lazy pass that was snagged by CP3 but he followed it up by setting a nice pick for K-mart’s jump shot. Further, I thought his defense was more than decent this time. He was at least attempting to block shots early and making his presence felt. At the final 2 minutes of the first quarter, Budinger and Lowry checked in and took advantage of Hill’s good play.
The story of the second quater was offensive rebounds. Chuck and Jordan continued to come alive and provide the Rockets with second chance opportunities. While watching Courtney Lee, it was hard not to compare and contrast him with Ariza. Courtney Lee played a good chunk of the second quater and after watching, I feel Morey definitely made the right decision. He was able to advance the ball very easily and set up the offense. An important factor that Ariza struggled with. On top of it all, Lee just has a better offensive game. He shoots for a higher percentage and is a more creative playmaker around the basket.
When interviewed coming out of half time, assistant coach Jack Sikma sayed, “This is the test now…” And he was exactly right. In the third period, the Hornets went on an eighteen to three run and outscored the rockets, 30-22. Once again, the third quarter gives the Rockets problems. If we are saving Yao for the final minutes, how will we defend the basket in this difficult third quarter? Is Eric Dampier going to help that problem?
The fourth quarter was slightly better but still brought up more unanswered questions. Jordan Hill finished with three impressive blocks and nine rebounds. Four of those nine, were offensive boards. The play of the night came when Lee saved a ball going out of bounds. Hill caught the ball, then saw Budinger slashing down the baseline. Hill threw a nice pass that set up an athletic finish from Chase. Immediately after that, Hill had another good defensive possession and that set up a three pointer from Budinger, who finished with fifteen. The game started to really heat up in the final minutes. However, every time the Rockets made an important basket, Chris Paul would answer. The ending of the game was pretty painful and it made me really start to question our identity.
Yao is not happy and it is effecting his thought process.
Does Aaron Brooks have a temper or was he ejected for nothing?
“And the Rockets… look jinxed.” Bill Worrel, after Kevin Martin misses another free throw.
Jason Smith looked like a good fit for the Hornets. 14 pts. on 5-8 shooting.
I met Chase Budinger at Target on San Felipe. I will be sure to post picture and story later.