Bullets Forever with the usual pre-game run down, and some thoughts about the locker room changes. I had my own thoughts there and here.
The Wizards are going to need the A game tonight so let’s start the show:
Shane Battier starts out hot on Caron Butler, who looks uninterested in worrying about him on defense – Who’s Your Daddy Battier hits Houston’s first two buckets. 4-2 Rockets.
10:30 – No double team on Yao Ming to start…probably because he didn’t receive the ball in good position, so Brendan Haywood was able to hold his ground, forcing Ming to pass.
9:18 – This time Yao gets it right under the basket…..too easy. 9-4 Rockets.
The speed of Luther Head and Rafer Alston off the pick & rolls and gap drives is giving the Wizards trouble so far.
The good thing is…since the Wizards have the ability to get out and run, Yao Ming is not hitting the offensive boards hard.
7:44 – Antonio Daniels with a basket drive reminiscent of last year, gets a foul on Yao and hits the FTs. 12-11 Houston.
7:35 – Yao Ming missed dunk, but the Rockets get the ball back….then DeShawn Stevenson gets a steal and Butler runs with him….Tuff Juice dunk. Wiz take the lead by 1.
7:02 – Another Rockets turnover, the Wizards are hustling with active hands, but they are sometimes getting themselves into defensive positions to where it’s hard to recover.
During the timeout, Eddie Jordan Interview: EJ is hesitant to start off doubling Yao, but is not opposed to it. Basically, if Yao Ming gets the ball and gains ground in getting to the rim, we’ll see a double. If he’s taking mid-range jumpers, the Wiz will rely on the arms of Brendan Haywood to contest.
4:46 – Great awareness by Haywood…Antawn Jamison looses the ball as he was trying to make a move….AJ then preserves the possession by diving and tipping the ball to Brendan Haywood….who got the ball, knew only 6 seconds was on the shot clock, and took it to the basket, drawing foul #2 on Yao Ming.
The Rockets are currently on a 15-1 run and are up 27-15 — aided by 3 Wizards turnovers, 2 from BTH.
Bonzi Wells checks in with about 10 seconds left in the 1st, I’m scared of him on multiple levels.
The quarter ends with Houston up 31-24. Those damn quick guards….combined, Luther Head and Rafer Alston have 17 points on 6-10 shooting. The Rockets were just a little better in the 1st. Yea, the Wiz are shooting 56.3%, but Houston is shooting 61.1%. And I don’t like 5 turnovers from Washington, but the Rockets have 5 too. Rick Adelman seemed to like the Shane Battier vs. Caron Butler match-up….they ran several plays for him in the first, 6 points is the result.
Here we go again with the mass subs to start the 2nd. Butler and Stevenson stay in the game…Songaila, Mason and Blatche join them.
10:22 – Eddie Jordan takes a quick timeout….he can’t like how the Wizards are running the offense.
7:17 – Nick Young with a sweet drive where he contorts the ball around Ming for the lay-in. 40-33 Rockets.
6:48 – I’m not sure what I just saw…but I’ll try….a jab step, dribble, spin, fade-away jumper by Darius Songaila over Luis Scola. Maybe that’s why the Spurs didn’t want him…not because, as most speculated, his offensive preferences would not mesh with Spurs team ideals, rather, he’s just a crappy defender.
5:38 – HUGE sequence…..Andray Blatche blocks a Yao Ming turnaround J from the block, procures the steal (after Ming recovers the ball, mind you), gives the ball up to a guard *KEY* and the transition offense opens up a wing 3 for Antawn Jamison. Washington has cut Houston’s lead to two points, 40-38.
One thing I notice about Darius Songaila: yea, his athleticism, or lack thereof, can cause problems for the Wizards, especially on D. But if you really watch him on offense, he’s smart. He knows the plays and he can accurately direct traffic when playing point-forward from the high-post.
Legal Seafood Trivia Question: Which 3 former Bullets were selected 1st overall in the NBA Draft by the Rockets? This is a tough one. They show the Elvin Hayes banner, but didn’t he go to the University of Houston and end his NBA career with the Rockets?
2:56 – Roger Mason pull up 3 – he’s developing the Reggie Miller leg kick after he shoots, I like it. Timeout, 45-41 Rockets.
Time for a quick check of www.basketball-reference.com for the Legal Seafood question because there’s no chance I’m getting it…..ok, the Houston Rockets franchise has had 4 #1 overall draft picks: Yao Ming in ’02, Hakeem the Dream Olajuwon in ’04, Ralph Sampson in ’83 and John Lucas in ’76 — Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz remind me that both Sampson and Lucas played for the Bullets, but what about the 3rd? Ahhh….there’s the catch, Elvin Hayes was selected by the San Diego Rockets 1st overall in 1968 – same franchise.
1:14 – Blatche leaves the game with 3 personal fouls….same ol’ story here.
The half ends and the Rockets are up 9, 52-43….now let’s see about the:
- The FG% of Houston is +15.2 over Washington – they’ve taken 1 more FG, but have made 5 more.
- The Wiz are getting killed on the boards, 23-14 overall – the Rockets only have 2 more offensive rebounds (6-4).
- Houston has doubled up on the assists, 14-7 – Rafer Alston has 6, his quickness has allowed him to penetrate wherever he wants.
- Roger Mason came through with 8 points off the bench, 12 total bench points for Washington. Houston has 14 bench points.
The Wizards are just not doing a good job of taking care of the ball….2 turnovers in about a minute 15. Antonio Daniels needs to make his presence known and take control of this team.
Steve Buckhantz keeps going on and on about how the presence of Yao Ming has really limited anything inside for the Wizards…and how he thinks Washington should take more outside shots. —Look, they got Yao into foul trouble, making him sit earlier in the game, why wouldn’t they want to go at him more?
8:17 – See….case in point. Caron has the ball at the top of the key, can’t get anything with a dribble move against Battier, passes to Haywood on the right wing (I thought BTH was a little too far out to receive the ball)…..nonetheless, Haywood makes a move to the basket and gets fouled by Ming as he makes the hook, but misses the FT.
6:45 – I give it to DeShawn Stevenson…he’s a tough dude. 201st consecutive start, 3rd best to Tayshuan Prince and Bruce Bowen (thanks Steve Buck) and takin’ shots to the chest from a Yao-bow. Give him a rest coach.
4:50 – Caron Butler turnover…just an unforced bad pass attempt to Jamison, 13th of the game for the Wizards…4th of the game for Butler. Tuff Juice is a little off tonight, 10 points on 4-10 shooting. Rockets score of the other end, points off TOs…but the Wizards are hanging around at 65-57, Houston.
3:15 – Damn…Luther Head 3…some boo birds come out as Houston takes a 68-59 lead. Dissecting that play….somehow Haywood and Jamison got switched off with AJ on Ming. They got close enough in the rotation to swicth back, but the communication wasn’t there as AJ stayed on Yao. Ming went up top to set a pick for Alston but AJ went to double the ball as Yao trailed off into the lane. I’m okay with what AJ was thinking…he assumed the rotation would work to cover a diving Ming…but they didn’t account for the guard cutting across the court from left to right. As Rafer drove, all he had to do was kick the rock to Luther Head open on the right wing for a made 3. If you have to know, DeShawn was running at him on the recovery.
2:01 – Yao Ming hook, 13 point Rocket lead, 72-59. The Wizards have no swag tonight…and the Rockets are on that lock-down that Van Gundy taught them. I still believe this game is for the Wizards to take though….somethings gotta get that offense going. Bean Burrito?
The 3rd ends and the Houston Rockets are up by 11, 74-63.
Crunch time needs:
- Pressuring their guards (Head 21 pts, Alston 10 pts. and 9 assists)
- Dribble penetration and passing out to open shooters (only 11 assists and 5 threes)
- Crashing the boards (only 6 Wiz offensive boards, getting beat 32-21 total)
10:58 – City Fade-away Comes Calling – Young’s 2 gets the Wizards within 11, 65-76.
10:01 – Lotta hustle from Caron Butler, willing himself to get a loose ball. Open up a can Tuff Juice and enjoy.
9:41 – It’s City Time…drop lay-in on the smaller Brooks. What did I tell you son?
8:21 – Big defensive play by Songaila…he pressured Scola into a turnover, recovered the steal, got fouled…and then down the court, tips an offensive rebound to Nick Young…who downs a Bean Burrito for another bucket, 80-71 Rockets…hanging around, 8 points from The City.
7:20 – Songaila does it again….drive and bounce pass to Blatche for a lay-in…cuts the Houston lead to 7.
6:57 – Songaila a little more…..his quick footwork on D draws a charge on Shane Battier. He’s bringing the team back in the game by himself. Wiz ball, down 7.
Other end…offensive foul called on Nick Young with the chicken wing out…c’mon ref, are you going to tell me that that skinny bama pushed Bonzi Wells that much?
6:00 – Steve Buckhantz = sayer of the backbreaker as Skip to My Lou hits a trey.
5:26 – Aaaand a back snapper as Luther Head hits a 3. I think Eddie Jordan called a timeout before the ball came out the net. Rockets up 13. Had a chance to cut it to 5 as Butler got inside, but obstruction was brought by Yao….before Houston just hit those back to back 3s. Do they have a Pontiac Game Changing Play for basketball?
“Great” – coming out the T.O., we find out that Eddie Jordan got a Tech. Yao Ming, the tallest designated technical foul shooter ever. 87-73 Rockets.
5:11 – Nick Young 3 stops some of the bleeding. 87-76. The City lights are coming on.
4:14 – Yea, Butler is off tonight. He misses a 3 that he did not seem to shoot confidently, Blatche fouls out on the rebound.
3:11 – Yao Ming is such a great passer. Nice assist to a cutting Rafer Alston. 91-78 Rockets.
This game is just about over. The Rockets, well..they’re just a better team, even without Tracy McGrady.
- Yao takes up a lot of space, especially on the defensive end (4 blocks for Ming, 3 for Battier).
- Shane Battier does everything as we know, especially shut-down defense on Caron Butler (12 points, 5-16 shooting).
- The Rockets have a lot of decent point guards….who can shoot — Rafer Alston and Luther Head (39 combined points). And Skip to My Lou has been on a roll lately….just to think, I absolutely laughed at a dude for selecting him in fantasy draft at the beginning of the season.
Oh yea, while I was typing, the game ended. 92-84 Houston Rockets over the Washington Wizards. See ya.