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We may have won the first battle….but are losing the WAR

Posted By Munaf Manji On Nov 11 2010 @ 12:46 pm In Houston Rockets | No Comments

After a heart felt effort Saturday night against the Spurs, to only lose in OT was a heartbreaker for many fans and of the course the players. Rockets showed a lot of character coming back from double digits, and almost pulling out a victory in regulation.  With Yao not playing against the Spurs because of a game the following night, Jordan Hill was called upon to fill the shoes of the big man.

Courtney Lee had an opportunity to ice the game for the Rockets who missed 2 clutch free throws with 11 seconds left. It would have given the Rockets a 4 point lead but Manu tied it up and sent the game to OT. But in OT the Rockets fell short and were gassed as they lost 124-121. Crucial turnovers cost the Rockets the game.  Spurs just made the plays where it counted!

More importantly the Rockets lost their starting point Aaron Brooks to a severe ankle sprain and did not return who is now out 4-6 weeks, and also K-Mart rolled his ankle in the 3rd quarter and did not return to the game.  Many were encouraged by the play of Ish Smith who created opportunities for his teammates. Ish Smith who is said to be quicker than Brooks has shown signs of being a great back up point guard upon improving his skills and gaining experience.

Rockets picked up their first victory as they should have against the lowly Minnesota T-Wolves pouncing them by 26 points. Right out of the gate Rockets played comfortably as they led at the end of the 1st quarter 26-14, and increased their lead at the half to 23 points, 60-37. With the big lead maintained by the Rockets, it forced Yao only to play 17 minutes. When the Rockets do get out to big leads in games its a big advantage where they can keep Yao off the floor and help him get more rest and look forward to the next game.  Rockets had  5 players in double digits, Budinger was not far behind finishing the contest with 9 points.

The Rockets should be encouraged by the efficiency of Kevin Martin who is making his way to the free throw line and scoring points with less shots taken. Martin finished with 21 points on 13 shots taken. Luis Scola finished the game with 24 points and 8 rebounds, also going to the free line 17 times and hitting 12 of those shots.

The key stat that jumped out was the free throw discrepancy: Rockets 39-47. Twolves 23-33.

The Rockets held the T-wolves to 37% shooting.

So last night the Rockets went into the country’s capital to face the #1 overall pick John Wall and the Washington Wizards. John Wall posted his first career triple-double against the Rockets which was enough to help his team beat the Rockets 98-91.

The key moment in the game for the Rockets was when Yao left the game in the 1st quarter with an undisclosed leg injury and did not return. Still with Brooks out, Lowry did return to the line up to ease some of the workload off of Ish Smith. It seemed like the Rockets brought back Lowry too soon and we saw it in his play, he finished 2-11 from the field in 21 minutes of play.

The front court play of McGee and Blatche seemed too much for the Rockets to handle, both of these players combined for 13-27 shooting which accounted for 28 points, and 17 rebounds. Al Thornton also had a nice game for himself notching 20 points.

The problem for the Rockets in the past 3 games has been, who is going to help Scola and Martin? Who will be the man to take some pressure of these guys? Last night Scola played 42 minutes!! Finished the game with 24 points on 10-20 shooting and grabbing 6 boards. Kevin Martin finished the ball game with 31 points,  going 8-18 from the field, but more importantly 13-15 from the free throw line, and also adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

Two BIG problems right now the Rockets are having is needing a third man to help Scola and Martin scoring the basketball and rotation problems for Adelman. With the amount of depth on this team the coaching staff has to figure out a rotation that will help the Rockets win some ball games and get Scola and Martin some time to rest while others carry the load.

The biggest question right now for me as a fan is where is Chase Budinger? Through 7 games he is shooting 3-23 from 3 point range! And is the clock ticking on Adelman?

There is still no official word on Yao Ming’s leg injury so far it has been called a tendon injury.

The Rockets will take on Indiana next, and the Knicks on Sunday, before returning home to take on the Chicago Bulls.

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