Friday, December 15, 2006

Rockets 107, Warriors 109


(Prenote: I had just always wanted a serious column to have WTF in it's title. I'll always be a kid at heart. A Toys R Us kid.)

The Rockets blew yet another fourth quarter lead, with Baron Davis knocking down a huge three-pointer/prayer to win the game. Offtopic: Doesn't it seem like Baron Davis has been hitting these kinds of shots for years? Maybe it's just the highlight era of SportsCenter, but Baron has hit as many of those prayer 3's than anyone I've ever seen with the possible exception of McGrady.

Four Factors for this game:

HOU:
41% from the field, 37% from 3, 16-19 FT, 18 offensive/53 total rebounds (what kept them in the game), 20 turnovers
GSW:
47% from the field, 28% from 3, 27-35 FT (big winner), 6 offensive/33 total rebounds, 15 turnovers

Thoughts:

-The biggest downfall for the Rockets lately has been their tendency to shoot jumpers. In their last four games, they've lost the free throw battle four times and tied it once, and have gone 2-3 in those games. In the two games that McGrady has missed, the Rockets have been outshot at the line to the tune of 37 to 67, which has been the key factor in costing them two very close games. Other than Yao, the only Rocket who played in this game that has averaged more than two free throws a game is Alston, and as established before, he's so poor at that in comparison to most of his contemporaries that it's pathetic. During the last couple of minutes, he actually penetrated the lane and found the shot so unappealing that he dished it off to a partially guarded Head (who made the shot, but the point stands that only a super tentative player would pass up that lane).

Kirk Snyder, acquired from the Hornets before the season, was shooting a respectable 6 FT per 40 before he got hurt. His loss has hurt the Rockets a lot more than expected. Spanoulis has stepped in and, while able to create for himself, has proven very turnover prone; also, his 4.2 FT per 40 is still among the best on the team.

I guess the key thing to point out here is that losing T-Mac isn't only horrendous for us on a pure scoring perspective; the Rockets are a team of jump shooters that need to be created for. While Yao will draw doubles, he can't penetrate and actually take another defender out of the play with him like McGrady can.

-Yao had 38 points and 18 rebounds, Bill Worrell lauded MVP praise on him, and up until Davis' three, it looked like he was set up to get some national attention. Heres all you need to know about the Rockets without Yao: Yao was substituted at the 3:30 mark in the first quarter with the Rockets trailing 13-15, when he came back in with 0:26 left, it was 19-25. Yao was substituted for at the 3:30 mark in the third quarter with the Rockets up 71-59. When he came back in at 0:20 in the third, it was 78-73. That's a net -11 points in just the 6 minutes he missed.

-Bonzi Wells is not ready to play basketball, as his 0.26 PER indicates.

-Chuck Hayes is a chip right off the Charles Oakley block, right down to the boring basketball his team employs. The only problem is, he's so bad at picking plays to not go after the shooter that he can't stay on the court. This is problem for the Rockets because when he does get in foul trouble, they lose a LOT. He's a net +124 by Basketball Value's ratings, meaning that when he plays we are +124 points. I know that Rafer Alston is the same way, but he actually plays a lot of minutes with Yao so I find his numbers a little bit harder to believe.

-If any team in basketball needs Allen Iverson right now, it's the Rockets. Combine this with their win now attitude (Is it too late to get Rudy Gay back?), and I would just throw the house at Billy King (he is Billy King, after all). Iverson and McGrady both have 2 years left on their contracts, and after that, they can both be tossed asides to rebuild around the end of Yao's prime. The only problem is, thanks to the NBA cap, it's basically impossible to acquire him.

The fairest trade I could come up with in the generator was Howard, Battier, Spanoulis, Snyder, Sura, and 2 1st rounders for Iverson and Iguodala. It's nice to dream.

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