Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Yao Line 01.13.08: Two Whistles Shy of 6th Straight

41:43 min | 30 pts | 11-24 FGs | 8-11 FTs | 16 rebs | 4 blks | recap

One thing's for sure, there was no letdown after the Rockets' blowout win vs. Minnesota Friday night. Yao and the Rockets came to win against a Hornets team they'd been struggling with since Chris Paul came to town and were just two whistles shy of nabbing their 6th straight win. That's right, it has to be said. Yao was huge, but the refs ate their whistles for him late in the game... again. It's no secret amongst my circle that I for the most part think referees from the NBA to kids rec. leagues are grossly incompetent and irrational people. That's just based on my experience, but I rarely, if ever, blame a loss solely on the performance of officials. The refs cost Houston this game.

Now it takes a good team to take advantage of another team's misfortune in the officiating department--and New Orleans is certainly that good a team--but the way Yao is increasingly poorly officiated is just baffling. Is he supposed to be a star in this league or not? How does Yao not get the benefit of the doubt, late in the game while making definitive power moves into the paint? That's what every basketball coach, analyst, player and purist will say a team's star must do because you either score or get to the line. That's what Rockets did, executed, got their star the ball on two consecutive possessions while the Rockets still held a lead late in the 4th. And both times Tyson Chandler got the benefit of the doubt on plenty of contact, the latter resulting in a fastbreak 2+1 finish by Rasual Butler on one of the most liberal foul calls made in crunch time of a game this season. So Rasual Butler gets more love than Yao?

They did eventually foul Chandler out on the next two Rockets possessions but by that time, they had lost the lead and the momentum. Why are refs eating their whistles with Yao, they sure as heck didn't hesitate to give Shaq the call. Could it actually be because Yao is almost automatic from the line and referees just don't want to give it to him that easy? Seems ludicrous given how stars like Kobe and Chauncey Billups convert from charity. But what other explanation is there? Rockets fans really need to let the refs have it more often and with considerably more vigor. Their gross ineptitude is starting to cost the Rockets games.

T-Mac Pro: A virtually unstoppable and dynamic perimeter threat when Houston needs a late bucket.
T-Mac Con: This dynamic threat settles for a jumpshot.

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