Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Yao Line 01.15.08: Let Down and Hanging Around

41:18 min | 25 pts | 8-11 FGs | 9-10 FTs | 8 rebs | 2 blks | recap

It was 2:20 left in the 3rd, Rockets up 15, and Yao is on the line, on his way to a perfect game through three quarters. He misses the free throw, but it's all smiles, everyone's relaxed, he calmly sinks the second and gives Houston their biggest lead of the night at 16 pts. It all went dense from there, as in a gravitational collapse.

For 13 games and 8-5 record the Rockets had managed to play hard from beginning to end whether they were making shots or not. For the last 12, they looked like a team that had finally come around. Last night was a huge step back. It's as if they were actually getting full of themselves. And that's on Rafer Alston. As well as he's been playing, he still hasn't quite grasped just how to consistently control the tempo for this team; and just how important it is to do so.

Alston has been scoring points, he along with Aaron Brooks, have given the Rockets a new dimension in the half-court, one that can get to the rim when opponents focus on Yao. But until he figures out how to control the tempo, the Rockets won't get out of the first round. Which isn't to say just slow it down and keep it in the halfcourt; Tracy McGrady does that just fine and he hasn't gotten Houston out of the first round either. It's balancing the run and the halfcourt set, and knowing when to do it.

Still, it wasn't all his fault, the Rockets gave Philly the ball (Alston with 6 TOs so maybe it's more his fault) and never got back on defense, as if to say, don't worry about this bucket, we'll get the next one. That's pickup basketball, and losing pickup basketball at that. Yao needs to work harder at pinning guys like Dalembert and Calvin Booth. They were a joke in the 3rd, light dinner fare for Yao, but they stepped it up in the 4th. Yao didn't. Everyone let down in this one and they gotten bitten in the ass for it. It should serve as a reminder to the Rockets that they still have a long way to go, just like the first one in Philly... but they really shouldn't need anymore reminders.

Feigen is much harsher. Blinebury even moreso.

1 comment:

site said...

Really worthwhile data, much thanks for the post.