from Yao Central
25 pts, 9-16 FGs, 7-8 FTs 12 rebs, 3 asts, 1 stl, 3 blks, 4 TOs, 5 PFs, 40:32 min
Was this the most leisurely 25 pts and 12 rebs Yao's ever seen? Though the Rockets struggled to get Yao into the low-post for much of the game--and it wasn't exactly clear whether it was the play calling or Yao's still growing familiarity with the offense--they did manage to get it to him when it counted, on consecutive possessions that seemed to put away the Lakers in the last 4:00 minutes of the game. Then the little collapse.
But what was promising was Yao's team-leading 40:32 minutes played, and he wasn't exactly lumbering by game's end. Certainly a combination of Yao's improving fitness and Adelman's system, but either way the result was Houston was able to get Yao 1-on-1 looks in the paint late in the game when they needed him on which he scored decisively and quickly in the way someone does when they are not fatigued--something rarely seen last season.
Is this too easy? Should Yao be more assertive in making his presence felt? Maybe not. It seems that Yao may benefit from laying low right now until he fully grasps the system. Players with dynamic perimeter skills like T-Mac are better suited to wing it in the meantime while everyone gets acclimated to the system. And the 19 TOs means there's still plenty of acclimating to do. Adelman's Kings teams were always on the low-end of that particular statistic.
But it's apparent now, the Rockets have more weapons in Mike James and Bonzi Wells (and perhaps Steve Francis by mid-season), so Yao should have plenty of single coverage looks to come and more chances to make it look this easy... at least, on offense.
YaoMingMania.com as always with the best courtside pics.