Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Yao Line 01.02.07: How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot

42:09 min | 19 pts | 7-20 FGs | 5-6 FTs | 13 rebs | recap

Climbing back from 40-20, displaying a kind of mental and physical toughness that's been missing all season. Dunking the ball, dunking on Kevin Garnett, Yao, Houston, played just about as well as you can against the league's hottest team. Then they give it away--I mean, Garnett was more than happy to take it, but the Rockets were having a fire sale.

It's one thing to miss open 3's like Battier's, it's another to turnover the ball on an entry pass and give up offensive rebounds in the final minute. It was a tremendous and worthy effort and a great game to watch but the reasons they came up short are still the same.

The Rockets, however, aren't exactly backsliding. They still look to be improving in various parts, they are scoring better, increasingly finding effective options in the offense. Bonzi is finding myriad ways to score and Rafer Alston is finally starting to play like he deserves a starting point guard position. That's because he's finally found a consistent and efficient formula for getting to the rim. And that's through pick and roll and a good hesitation dribble.

Skip's finally realized he's not explosive enough for straight penetration and finish at the rim, or for that matter the playground crossover and finish at the rim, he has to make a living off the P&R, hesitation dribble and creative shots around the rim, Steve Nash has made a career out of it... oh, and there's that almost unparalleled court vision and dead-eye jumper. Skip can still work on the latter. But it's encouraging to see him finally get his swagger as a Rocket. As with most guards, layups and swagger translate into made jump shots. It's only been a few games, but Alston looks like he's really found a groove. Make no mistake, though, it's a direct result of McGrady being out of the line-up.

Based on last night's game, here's one reason to trade T-Mac: IF McGrady decided to shoot his way out, it would probably have a lot uglier, even if Mac dropped 40.

One reason not to trade T-Mac: He throws better entry passes than Luther Head... and rebounds better, too. So that's two reasons.

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