The Dream Shake - a Houston Rockets blog: 2007

Monday, December 31, 2007

Well that really sucked donkey balls

The Rockets play team ball, even if a little disjointed for 3 quarters, then go completely cold in the 4th. Oh, and they forgot to play defense the entire 4th quarter as well. Towelie shot the ball 17 times, also known as 9 times more than Yao did. Ya, that's a recipe for sucess. Included in those 17 shots was a 2-9 experience from the 3 point line. He also shot 4-7 from the line. Great game dude, way to "take over". STOP SHOOTING THE BALL ASSHOLE!!! I have no idea how the scorer saw to it that he had no Turnovers, because there were three different occasions that the turnover was his fault. It was really bad. Yes, he scored 22 points, again, he shot the ball 17 times, he better have 22 points. For some crazy reason he played 44 minutes. Why didn't Aaron Brooks play? Your guess is as good as mine.

Let's Ring in the New Year

Welcome to the New Year's Eve edition of the Dream Shake. Every year it seems that people around the world make New Year's Resolutions and some people even stick to them. My favorite is when women of the larger persuasion decide to become the ideal size that women's magazines say they should be. I say try, because most men don't actually want there women to be skinny waifs, but like a little athletic look or even a little cushion for the pushin to stick around. So, even when these women "fail" in the magazines eyes, they succeed for men to ogle them. And that's awesome. (A side note: Women are bitches, not to men, but to other women, they are their own biggest critic. Works for guys though, makes them always think they can change us, so we get chances at hotter chicks than we should)

Today the Rockets sat down with The Dream Shake for an exclusive interview and went through their New Year's Resolutions.

TDS: Thanks for sitting down with us guys. Here's a quick review of the format. We'll go around the room and ask for your New Year's Resolution. Then we'll respond and give you a suggested resolution if they differ. We'll go in alphabetical order. Sound good?

Guys: Yeah, sounds great.

TDS: Rafer, let's start with you

Rafer: My name is Skip, why are you calling me so soon?

TDS: First off, your name is Rafer. Second, your last name is Alston and A is the first letter in the alphabet. Listen: A,B,C,D... do I need to go on?

Rafer: I bet you call Yao last though.

TDS: Well Yao is actually his last name, so, ya, we'll call him last. Can we get on with it "Skip"?

Rafer: My New Year's Resolution is to be taken seriously by you guys and the whole nation, I want to take The Nation by Storm

TDS: Well, you're off to a great start in this interview, let me tell you. My Resolution for you is to stop shooting the ball on the next trip down the court after you miraculously make one.

Rafer: See man, that's why I didn't want to do this. I'm a shooter, shooters have to get in rhythm. How can I do that without chuck... I mean shooting?

TDS: You are not a shooter and would you like me to change it to "Stop sucking"? I was trying to keep this realistic. And how did I know you would take up so much time Towelie?

Rafer: That guys the worst character ever, why do you call me that?

TDS: You just answered your own question. And you just cost Novak, Landry and Snyder there spots. Okay, let's keep this going. Shane what's up Dude? How are the folks? I really enjoyed that lovely apple pie your wife made me.

Shane: Thank you kind sir, I truly enjoyed the lovely mix disc of Abba that your wife made me. Oh and just to clarify I call it a disc because let's be honest, no 20th century homo-sapien uses cassette tapes any longer. And my folks are doing splendidly, thank you for asking. And I know the question, so let me answer. My New Years resolution is to truly explore the African American side of my roots. I have assuredly gone through the "Caucassian or white boy" (he used air quotes) experience and while fabulous, I want to experience some things that are more "hood", that's short for neighborhood for your information. I'm going to listen to some Vanilla Ice and some Snow and really get into my culture.

TDS: Shane, as always, you are pretty much right on the money. You do know that Vanilla Ice and Snow are white though, correct?

Shane: Well yes, but I already have those Cd's and they should suffice.

TDS: Thanks again Shane. Aaron, what's a rookie resolve to do in for his first New Year's as a NBA player?

Aaron: I resolve to get even faster. I even think I'm going to challenge Speedy Gonzalez to a foot race again. I think I can take him this time. The NBA really prepared me for a redo by experiencing crowd noise at a higher level than college. Last time we raced he kept saying "Arriba, Arriba" and it through off my concentration.

TDS: I think you should resolve to take over Rafer's starting spot.

Aaron: He's right there man, last time I talked about being a starter he kept trying to pull rookie hazing. Once he told me I had to walk around only in a jock strap in his backyard. It was creepy, he was the only one there and he just kept staring at me with binoculars even though I was only about 15 feet away.

TDS: That's F'd up man, I'm sorry you felt you had to share. Stevie Franchise, I think it's to you.

Steve: I resolve to start again.

TDS: That's it? You just resolve to start again? Do you have any plans to make that come true?

Steve: I'm the Franchise baby, the Franchise is a starter by nature.

TDS: Well Steve, I'd love for you to start as well, but with that attitude that isn't going to happen. How about "I resolve to start and will work to find the holes in my game that are causing that to not happen"?

Steve: See man, I tried that, I played and was hitting the open man, and then Tracy wouldn't pass me the ball, and we both know I can't really shoot. Then Norman Dale kept me on the bench and when I asked him if I could play he kept saying "My team's on the floor"

TDS: I know man, it's a hard life. Luckily Portland gave you a lot of bank to make your dreams come true.

Steve: Ya, sometimes I smoke a joint rolled up with a Franklin just cause I can.

TDS: Okay... Chuck Hayes, Chuckster, I'm just going to start yours off by telling you your Resolution from me. "I will learn to look for passes from my teammates when I am under the basket." And yes, I know, I know, you set up to rebound and they have NO business passing you the ball. You are a rebounding machine and they don't appreciate it. Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in Chuck Hayes' hood. So I need your help. Is that cool?

Chuck: That's cool man, I'm just here to help the team anyway I can.

TDS: That's why we love you around here at The Dream Shake. You do your job, and you try and help others do theirs.

Chuck: Thanks guys, it's nice to be appreciated by someone.

TDS: Luther Head, what's on your New Year's Resolution list?

Luther: I hope to get traded this year, and when I do I resolve to hit the stop putting a hitch in my jumper and hit the open three again.

TDS: That's so uncool, not the hitch part, we here at TDS have been wondering where that came from, but the traded part. What's up with that?

Luther: I'm the only guy on the team that can actually hit a three and yet don't get any playing time.

TDS: Have you considered working on your dribbling skills? I've seen sixth graders go through defenders more cleanly than you. That's your new resolution "I will learn to dribble when under pressure".

Luther: I don't like that one.

TDS: And it shows. We like you man, but you can't be relied on with the ball. Mike James, welcome back to Houston, we're sorry you left in the first place, besides hosting more Family Reunion barbecues, what is your resolution?

Mike: I resolve to smile more, I've been down a little bit lately, but I think smiling has a lot to do with my game.

TDS: I almost asked if you were serious, but that big grin on your face tells me you are. So you know what? I'm down, that's your resolution. Keep your grill fixed up and keep the teeth white, because I want to see you smiling and having fun again. That will get you some more minutes, having fun off the bench is what you used to do best. Carl Landry. Yours is too easy, you resolve to hit the weight room and become a valuable rebounder that can actually put the ball in the hoop on put backs and late passes.

Carl: That's cool man, at least it's better than the one Rafer had for me. He wanted me to yell at 5-6 valets then stab one of them so people would forget that he does that from time to time.

TDS: Dammit Towlie, stop trying to corrupt the youth with our And1 shennigans. Can't you pull that crap on someone like The Proffesor or Hot Sauce? At least they already have your penchant for fancy dribbling as you travel. Time for you Mr. McGrady. What's on your mind, what do you resolve to do in the Year of our Lord 2008?

Tracy: I'm going to sit out for 5 or 6 more games and wait for the team to lose some games, then come back as the savior. Then I'm going to have two games in a row where I play like a good teammate and we'll win, then I'll have two games where I shoot the ball 32 and 34 times respectively to show I can still score.

TDS: That's not really a resolution. Resolution are usually like "I'm going say nice things to people on a daily basis" or "I'm going to lose weight". Something that improves on what you've already done in life.

Tracy: I made more than 25MM dollars last year, I think I can choose what a resolution is or isn't. But if I must play your team game, I'll say that I resolve to shoot the three better and to do so I'm going to shoot a lot more during games to get practice.

TDS: I'm not exactly sure how that's playing anyone's team game, but okay, at least it's a resolution. Here's what I was thinking "I'll get my head out of my proverbial ass and play like a real teammate, thus actually being the complete player I am, a great passer, a good shooter and good role model for young kids playing the game".

Tracy: Well, yours is better, I have to admit. I'll think about it. But I keep getting "hurt" and getting hurt hurts man. You ever been hurt? It sucks, I don't like falling down. When I was 6 and only 5 foot tall it wasn't a big deal. Now ouchies just ain't cool.

TDS: Thanks for thinking about it, that's better than you not thinking about it I guess. Dikembe, what do you resolve to do?

Dikembe: Dikembe like cookies, who want to sex Mutumbo with cookie crumbs in bed? That's what Dikembe resolve to do, finally find out who wants to sex Mutumbo. That's what everyone want to know, right?

TDS: Dikembe, I'm going to need you to never retire, mmkay? I know that you can start drawing social security next year, but we love having you around. I to always wanted to know who wants to sex Mutumbo. I appreciate your crusade to answer this perplexing and difficult conundrum. Luis Scola, what does a burgeoning young NBA star like yourself resolve to do?

Shane: Gentlemen, if if may quickly interject. A conundrum is defined as an intricate and difficult problem, in this context. I just wanted to clear that up for anyone with confusion around that word. It really is a doozy.

TDS: Thank you Shane. Luis?

Luis: I resolves to make sure I double bags my penis for make love to the ladies of Estados Unidos. Giggity Giggity! I watched the Family Guy show you speaks of and it funny. Really I resolves to never cut my hairs, these wonderful with ladies, no? I no know why they like so much, but who is Luis to question? I went to club last night and five lady want to have sex with Luis, how I say no to this? So we went my house and used my special sex up Luis room, it magical place where all Luis dreams come true.

TDS: Okay, okay, that's enough. I was hoping you'd say you'd resolve to become one of the best third scorers in the league, but I'm not sure how I can argue with this. Just keep the little chili pepper covered, you don't want to end up like some of these other guys with 6 kids from 8 different women. Bonzi, Bonzi, Bonzi, I can't wait to see what you've come up with.

Bonzi: I resolve to see how much money I can lose on the open market by missing free throws and layups consistently and taking more bad contract advice from my agent. Just kidding playa, I resolve to hit on some fly honeys in the first row at every away game. Some of them bitches got more money than I do. Ain't that some shit?

TDS: Yes, Ron Burgandy and the News Team at KVWN Channel Four would agree with you.

Bonzi: Ya man, I saw this fine ho in the first row at the Raptors game who had an absolutely breath-taking... heiney. I mean, that thing was good. I wanted to be friends with it

TDS: Yao, let's take this home.

Yao: I resolve to speak English more fluently than any member of the team. I resolve to make a wonderful home for my new wife. I resolve to keep my teammates involved. I resolve to be even nicer to referees, but to also explain when I am wronged, but to do so politely. I resolve to dunk the ball since it is a higher percentage shot. I resolve to work on my game every day. I resolve to shoot free throws until I never miss one again. I resolve to be the best center I can possibly be. I resolve to

TDS: Big Man, that's enough resolutions. You are an overachievers at everything you do, I shouldn't be surprised that you overachieve here. I'm going to simplify it for you "I resolve to dominate the NBA even more than I already do". There you go. Done and Done.

That wraps up the New Year's Resolution interview with our Houston Rockets. Thanks for taking the time gentlemen.

NBA Resolutions for 2008

I'm not usually one for New Year's resolutions. Basically it's an excuse to put off things until January 1 of the next year and then get bored of this new regimen by March (I see it at the gym all the time - it's overcrowded in January and the newbies get bored of it by springtime).

That said, I think the NBA has a handful of things it should "resolve" in 2008 - and hopefully not get bored of them and back-track like it did with the synthetic basketball introduced last year (Orange Roundie!). I'm lookin' at you commish -- no wussing out on this!

For my proposed NBA resolutions, let us begin in reverse order:

5. The Jump Ball

The "jump ball" has been used at all levels of basketball since the game became mainstream. The basic concept is known to all: to start the game, put your tallest guy in the center of the court and make him jump up and tap it to a teammate before the designated tall person on the other team does the same.

It's even worse during the game when there is a tie-up and two players claim possession. A short player may be hustling to get the ball when it's loose following a rebound or a poke-away. Inadvertently he may have tied-up the designated tall person from the other team. And then we have unintentional comedy with a 6' tall player trying to "out-jump" a 7' tall player. It's a built-in disadvantage to the guy who is quick and who hustles.

Even worse is the fact that referees still cannot make a proper "toss" of the jump ball. The average ref is probably 6' tall or shorter. And they are supposed to throw a basketball upwards to players that are 7' or taller and have insanely long arms... and this "toss" is supposed to be perfectly vertical and accurate?? How is it that after 60 years of the NBA there has not been a way to improve this concept?

It's called evolution, people. The jump ball is corny and stupid - and often a disadvantage to the team that is playing harder. Either teach the refs how to do it properly or find a new way for determining possession. Right now it's one way the college game is superior to the NBA game.

4. The "Double Technical" Foul

I still do not understand this rule. To this day, no one has ever been able to explain to me the purpose and the benefits of the double technical. So two players get into a skirmish. The ref blows the whistle and hits both with a techical foul? Huh?

The purpose of a technical foul is to keep order in the game and prevent players from disrespecting their opponents or the referees. Yet basketball is still a competitive event (unless you play for the Miami Heat) and by implication this involves emotions. Often heated emotions.

So, theoretically, the rule is invoked when one player says something about another player's mother... the other player takes offense and gets into the chest of the other player demanding that he take the offending comments back. To stop this from escalating, both players are typically assessed a technical foul. And nothing is accomplished. Both players still are mad at each other and order is by no means restored. Unless one player already had a technical foul and then it's highly unfair to allow one team to bait the other team to get one guy ejected.

Either give one player a technical foul... or none of them. Even stranger is that when there is a double technical foul -- neither team shoots free throws. Even the basketball authorities implicitly acknowledge that nothing is to be gained from this rule. This isn't the NFL, guys - there shouldn't be anything approximating "offsetting penalties" in our great game. This rule is annoying and it has to go. Or be improved. Maybe a penalty box?

3. Players slapping hands between free throws

Okay, Mr. Stern, I'm not sure there is much you can do about this one. But you did put in a dress code. And you did insert a rule preventing players from listening to iPods during pre-game warm-ups. Maybe you can help me here.

When did this stupid habit start? I mean... really? When did some player think it to be a good idea to walk towards his teammate shooting free throws, give him a high-five/low-five/fist-bump/handshake? And when did the rest of the league think this is cool and follow suit?

I'm gonna let you in on something, guys - it's f--king stupid. Stop doing it!

As a free throw shooter - it's all about rhythm. You do not want distractions or be forced to move off your spot. And you certainly do not want to have to break rhythm to tap hands with a teammate when you felt good about your first free throw. Yet to be "cool" and not be out of place, it is now commonplace to step off the line, give a fist-bump to each of your teammates trying to rebound what will now inevitably be a missed 2nd free throw, and then do it again the next time you go to the FT line.

What's the deal? It's your teammate. It's not like you just met him and/or are greeting him upon his entrance into the game. Let him shoot the damn free throw. You can commiserate on the social experience of playing basketball together at another time!

(and yes, I put a picture of Kobe here because he's seen as the ultimate "loner" in the NBA... maybe he's on to something.)

2. the Defensive 3-seconds Rule.

Hey, I kinda understand the impetus behind this rule. What I do NOT understand is why the NBA has not phased it out yet.

In the late 1990's the NBA wanted to allow defenses to play a modified zone defense. Instead of the traditional "man-to-man" rules where you could not double-team MJ, Clyde or Hakeem before they ever touched the ball (which was good and bad all at once).

And this was a good rule change at the time. As a compromise to the idiot notion that zone defenses would make it unfair to NBA offensive players, the NBA put in the defensive three-seconds rule. Now, while you were able to double or triple team any player at any time, a defensive player was NOT allowed to just camp out under the basket and guard no one in particular.

To this I say... why not? If Yao wants to just stand under the basket and not guard anyone - how is this a bad thing for the team on offense? It clearly allows at least one player to be open at all times. Somehow the concept of "not guarding anyone" makes for a stronger defense? Now that does not make sense!!

The NBA has had almost a decade to adjust to match-up zone defenses. There is no longer a need to dis-allow a defensive player from camping out under the basket. Just like there is no longer a need for short-shorts. Unless you are the Lakers.

1. The half-circle under the basket (and by implication the "charging" rules)

This is by far the dumbest thing the NBA has ever done.

A handful of years ago, to prevent flopping and to make it easier on referees to tell if a player is in position to take a charge (as opposed to committing a blocking foul), the dotted semi-circle or half-circle was painted underneath the rims on both sides of the court.

If a player is positioned inside the circle, it is always a blocking foul. If, however, a player manages to get two feet outside the circle and then fall down when the opposing player tries to posterize him, somehow that is a charging foul?

Granted, I realize that the Rockets have some of the best players at abusing this rule (Battier, Chuck Hayes, Scola, etc.). I also think this rule is f--king stupid. Not to mention dangerous.

Look, on those rare occasions when Tracy McGrady drives the ball to the basket and tries to dunk on some fool's head... he now has to worry about that stupid semi-circle. When he jumps up, the rules actually allow a slower, shorter player to be able to jump in front of the circle, stand still and undercut McGrady as he's already airborne. I'm surprised there hasn't been a devastating ankle/knee/hip injury because of this rule. NBA players fear being undercut all the time. Even on the street-court playground - undercutting another player while he's in the air starts more fights than "yo' momma" jokes. It's stupid and dangerous. And the NBA not only allows it, but puts in a rule that encourages this?

Fix it, Mr. Stern. Fix it now. Before the league becomes a bunch of drones who do nothing but try to take charges and bore-up your game. Or, as Bill Walton would say: "get up there and block a shot, big man!"

These are my resolutions and proposals to make the NBA great again.

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome 2008 - and hopefully a re-birth for the Rockets' season.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Live from the Texans game!

Today I brought the blackberry to the Texans game just to show my Rockets loyalty. Even here I'm thinking Rockets, but it sure would be nice to finish the season 8-8 and continue our dominance of the Jaguars. Or at least the previous dominance prior to the game earlier this season. Anyway, this is a (the?) Rockets blog.

The Rockets did what they had to to win last night and it was exactly what Dave and I have been begging for all season. Play as a team mofos! And that is what they did. Make the extra pass, run the offense through Yao, get Aaron Brooks some meaningful minutes and hit your open looks. Seems pretty simple right? Well they made it look simple last night, outlasting every run the Raptors minus TJ Ford (and yes I still love me some TJ, final four TJ bitches) had and finishing them off at the end. They looked like a complete team and that was without the likely starting 2 guard for the Western Conference All Star team.

Now, what do we do when Tracy comes back from his sabbatical? I'm hoping he sees that they can play well without him finally and that he needs to be part of the team and not be the whole team by himself. I miss the McGrady that destroyed people that doubled him by finding the open cutter or three point shooter. The problem is you don't get doubled when you are 3 feet behind the arc, you get doubled when you drive, and it's a two fold advantage, get your guys open looks for dunks and layups and then the other team stops doubling as aggressively and you can destroy them yourself.

So, let's go Rockets, we owe Golden State a butt kicking, and as a team it can be done! And Tracy, when you get back, I want to see your new team attitude.

And while we're at it, it's 22 minutes before the Jacksonville beat down starts! Let's go Texans!

And hell, let's go Astros too!

Now *that* is how you run a balanced offense!

Rockets show the heart of a, um, uhhh, not quite champion, but a team good enough to play together and beat a talented Toronto Raptors squad. It's the kind of balanced offense we have been craving with this roster for some time now!
Yao, Bonzi and Rafer (?!?) led the offensive attack. No one player had to take 20 shots. And, even more impressive, there were five (5!!!) Rockets that had at least 8 rebounds. Yao finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks... a stat line that seems redundant because he does it every single night. He just needs the help. Last night - he got it.

And the Rockets have put together a nice 2-0 run without T-Mac. A win against the Warriors on Monday night would be an excellent way to ring in the New Year.

Granted, it wasn't perfect last night, and at times it was not pretty (39% shooting won't get it done usually). But we made free throws and we made open 3-point shots. It's been the formula for Rocket victories since 1993. Feed the big man and make open shots. Pop the champagne. Simple.

Ahhhh, the good ol' days!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

We have no hope of a TMac trade

If you were so inclined that is. I've been over the NBA Trade Machine over at and it doesn't look pretty. Good thing I don't want to actually trade him (unless LA is really this stupid).

Honestly, the best we can do past Kobe is a bag of corn chips, and some crappy players. Well, at least on trades teams would do. I mean, if Chicago wanted to do this, I would immediately change my mind about trading him:

And this is from a guy that thought Hinrich was going to be a huge bust in the NBA. I still can't believe that he has succeeded at the level he has, but I'm pleasantly suprised. He killed my Horns while at Kansas, I really should have believe in it more. But come on, cut me a break. He's a white boy from Iowa for goodness sake! To be fair, that trade is ridiculous though, I can't see the Bulls doing it, the Rockets would be dumb not to consider it though.

If the Rockets could do a sign and trade, or a maybe could get Gilbert to agree to sign an extension, I'd love me some Agent Zero action. And I believe him, I think Yao can get his shots too.

Honestly, here's the only trade I can see that works for both teams.
I really like Ron Ron, and his craziness. His D is what most people think Shane Battier's is. And he has a really good offensive game. Bibby's contract is huge, and I'm betting the Kings want out from under it, but he's exactly what the Rockets "need".

Alright, I've convinced myself, trading TMac is just dumb and instead, I'm just going to request he remove

from this:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Vacations Rule!

It’s Lee bitches…
I’m back and the Rockets are too after a long layover from the playing like shit tour. I had a great vacation and it’s extending into tonight because I just got back from some gumbo and fried shrimp at Pappadeaux’s and forgot to start the DVR so it’s there were only 9 minutes left in the first when I started watching. The Rockets are back to the scene of the start to their downfall, their first loss of the season and the awful, yet talented Memphis Grizzlies’ Fed Ex Forum.

So far Yao seems to be taking the game seriously with TMac out resting his laurels, or whatever you rest when you aren’t really hurt but don’t want to play. Unfortunately his aggressiveness tonight has got the best of him and he has 3 fouls. Again though, he doesn’t whine when he actually fouls someone, so I don’t get why refs don’t see this.

Aaron Brooks is a better passer than I remember him being at Oregon and has really impressed me with his, “I don’t give a shit, I’m a good player” attitude. He shoots the ball ridiculously fast; his release is perfect for creating his own shot. I am beginning to like him similar to how I liked Sam Cassell his rookie year, and that is a huge compliment from me. The best part about him is that I don’t have to bitch about how much Rafer sucks because he is taking some of his minutes. Don’t get me wrong, Rafer still sucks shit through a straw. (That has to be a top ten phrase for how much someone sucks, right?)

Mike Miller kills me; he is way too good of a basketball player to be as shitty as he is.

Dikembe is one of the best arguers in the league. I have literally never seen him leave a call alone. I have no idea what he says though, it could be like Dick Bavetta and Charles Barkley, just a lot of jawing but him asking how the ref's kids are. But regardless, he talks after every single foul called against him. And because he’s the cookie monster, it actually doesn’t bother me. The guy makes me laugh. I think the guy in charge of that commercial with all the foreign NBA players lets him speak just so I can get a chuckle.

Rockets have been really good about the 2 for 1 situations this year, and it’s no different at the half this time. They run Adelman’s offense perfectly in those situations. The rest of the time you ask? Not so much… This half time they actually get a 3 for 1 because Stromile Swift traveled, but couldn’t capitalize on the third chance. To be fair there were only .3 seconds left, so it was a touch and toss situation for Bonzi. We were up 12 at one point and the Grizz got it to one, but a 9-4 run by the boys in red got it back to 7 at the half.

You know what sucks about Rafer more than anything? He seems like an okay guy when it comes to charity off the court. Obviously he’s had his breaking laws fun, but it’s mostly been little stuff. He always seems to be on at half time doing stuff for da kids. Also, his girlfriend Ashley Walker is kind of hot. Of course he’s got some bank so that’s really not a surprise.

I’m headed to the Texans game n Sunday, and then every second of my sports energy can be focused on the Rockets. The Texans have a chance to finish 8-8 and give the city of Houston (or at least those non-Titans traitors) a little hope going into next season. Seriously, I love my Longhorns, I love Vince Young, but on the field, in the NFL, he is the enemy. I wish him good luck, but nothing but losses against the Texans. And speaking of the Horns, congrats to the good guys in Burnt Orange for their 7th consecutive 10 win season, the third best such streak of all time, one better than the poster boys of ESPN USC I will add.

The Rockets come back from half time with a bit of hustle; I like it when that happens. I don’t like it when Rafer shoots the “tearput” though, that thing always infuriates me. Clyde actually said he thought he was at his best when he was doing that, I guess he just sucks a little less when he does. Though I will give him some backhanded credit, he has been playing better since Aaron Brooks became a factor; it’s too bad he couldn’t do it on his own. I’ll take him sucking less in any way I can though.

Seriously, Mike Miller has all of the tools, he can shoot, jump, pass and rebound, but still sucks, his lack of motivation pisses me off. I had all of the drive, but just didn’t have the natural skill. Truthfully, the Grizzlies as a whole are a bunch of disappointments. Miller, Gasol, Swift, Darko, all potentially great players, all woeful underachievers. The entire team seems to be exactly what the Rockets aren’t and that is crazy athletic. I guess I’ll take what we have if that is what you get with athletes.

The Rockets are playing like a team and Yao is not F’ing around when he’s near the basket, he’s emphatically dunking it every chance he gets. I honestly think he’s sick of this crap about not being able to carry a team. He is even running the court and going after every lose ball. That could get him in trouble, but I still like it. If they keep letting Swift go over Yao’s back, I’m afraid Yao may punch him. Yao with 17, 8 and 2 blocks with 3:07 left in the third really seems to be playing well and doing it within the offense. Right after I typed that Yao gets called for a foul on a play where he wasn’t closer than a foot to Gasol the whole way. I’m not sure why I have to stress the fact that Yao does not bitch when he fouls or when he’s not fouled, why the hell do refs not get this? He also reacts pissed at himself when he does foul, so if in doubt, watch Yao’s reaction, he’ll tell you if he screwed up or not. Do I really have to start a letter writing campaign to the NBA???

The Rockets defense tonight is the best I’ve seen them play in weeks. The Grizz aren’t shooting terribly and they are trying as hard as they can. The Rockets are just stopping them. At the end of the third, the Rockets were up by 13, just need to keep it going for another 12 minutes.

Aaron Brooks is in the game to start the fourth; that warms my heart. As ugly as it is, his herky-jerky dribbling is awesome. He brings the ball up efficiently and quickly, it’s exactly what I want to see when he comes in. His defense is definitely lacking right now, but with his speed that can be brought around. His speed is his equalizer for his height, bigs can’t guard him to block his shot so he can go into the trees to penetrate.

This post wouldn’t be complete without talking about Luis Scola or Shane Battier; both are having complete games tonight, and playing good individual and team defense as well as playing well on offense. Scola looks like he should be the second banana at times on a team, I still think after the All Star break we are going to find our stride. It is up to a 20 point lead with 6:45 left in the game. They are using the shot clock and taking time off, I love the slow down, 4 to 5 pass till you find an opening offense when you have a big lead.

It’s nice to be back to blogging and I really enjoy keeping these as running game blogs. I like piecing them together from notes as well, but it always seems to flow better like this. Maybe it’s because I’m not a real writer, I’m something better, more refined for today’s day and age, a blogger if you will. Plus, I get to type and laugh at the same time at stuff like Bill Worrell commenting on Quagmire with something like: “It’s great to be ambidextrous, he likes to use either hand”. Unfortunately he followed it up by saying that it’s good for the Rockets that they are proving they can score without TMac. The problem with that is it can be good, but only if Tracy allows it to be. He has a tendency to try and show why he’s important after he comes back from being hurt. Regardless, I like 15+ point wins anytime they come. Hell, I like 1 point wins, I just like to win.

22 and 11 and 4 for Yao with 2:46 left, yes, he’s good. Just in case anyone was still wondering. His hustle and desire to play as a team is the defining aspect of this game. I love the guy. He’s not Hakeem (and people need to get over that) but he’s a hell of a good player and will easily go down as the best center of his era, that’s all you can ask of a guy. At the end of the game Stromile Swift was apparently trying to prove some crazy point, Yao dominated him on three straight possessions and proved his point wrong. I’m not exactly sure why people think he can’t play defense, it’s just absurd.

Great game by the Rockets, a 103-83 win. Game ball goes to the entire team. Check out this box score.

Six players in double figures and Hayes had 11 rebounds so I’m calling it 7. Towelie still sucks and Bonzi really does not have his shooting touch right now. I’m assuming it will come back since, unlike Towelie, he as had one in his career.

Great game Rockets, let’s keep it up. The Raptors are up tomorrow night, let’s make it two in a row!!

People That Piss Me Off (Week the Sixth)

It's the middle of the holiday season, so I'm supposed to be happy and all that, right?

Yeah... F that. Not with a 13-15 record and T-Mac scheduled to miss at least two games. McGrady is possibly returning to play against Golden State on New Year's Eve. Let's hope he chooses not to approach that game the Rex Grossman way. You, Tracy, are no Sex Cannon.

So, to make me feel slightly better and using this forum to rant and rave as usual, here's who pisses me off this week:

1. Peyton Manning

You see, Peyton - THIS is what you were supposed to be doing last weekend:

But, noooooooooooooo... you just had to play against the Texans in a game that meant nothing to you or your own team. Thanks. Look, I know you're the best QB. (Yeah, even better than that Brady guy.) I also know the Texans beat you last December and that probably made you mad. But, come on - Mario and the boys were soooo close to a winning record. You just had to tear their heart out. F'n grinch.

2. Sage Rosenfels

Dude, it's not all about Peyton. Maybe try to actually hit a WR in stride for once, and not throw it late and behind everyone. Just a thought. Or is this your way to rebel against the awesomeness that is Christmas?

3. Rafer

Because I feel like it and you've escaped my wrath for a few weeks now.

F U.

If we had a legit point guard I'm quite sure we wouldn't be 13-15. Your stats so far this season: 38.4% shooting (which matches your career average by the way), 9.3 ppg, 29.2% on three-pointers (even though you are open every freakin' time you shoot from there), and a so completely not surprising 59.4% from the free throw line. That is sad. You are a guard... who has made 19-32 free throws. You've played over twenty games and have slightly more than 1 FT attempt per game. And averaging less than one make per game. Good God you suck.

(caption: "I am confused. Why can't the new guy with the funky offensive system trade the spastic one who dribbles too much to Miami? Or just tell him the game got cancelled when it really didn't? I do not like Mr. Rafer.")

... and that's all for this week. On Monday I'll have an in-depth analysis of NBA resolutions for 2008 - also known as things the League needs to change ASAP.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Awesome, yet completely random statistic

The most recent NBA All-Star ballots have Yao and Tracy McGrady set to be starters again. This is not a surprise, nor is it really news.

*This* is the news and the basis for this short post:

Western Conference Voting


Carmelo Anthony, Denver, 767,722; Tim Duncan, San Antonio, 722,059; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas, 686,853; Carlos Boozer, Utah, 281,299; Josh Howard, Dallas, 251,756; Shawn Marion, Phoenix, 240,752; Shane Battier, Houston, 227,112; Luis Scola, Houston, 222,896; Kevin Durant, Seattle, 191,542; Grant Hill, Phoenix, 152,898.

Read that again.........

Luis Scola has over 30,000 more votes than Kevin freakin' Durant!

giggity, giggity!

Tracy has an ouchie

McGrady... hurt again. Possibly out for a week. Of course, T-Mac is being "cautious" about this new injury.

(though, I am tempted to ask him if he is "hurt" or if he is "injured" - as Coach Sam Winters explained the difference quite eloquently 14 years ago. If he's "hurt" he can still play.)

And what the hell is that he is reading in the trainer's room?? I'm surprised Tracy doesn't have pictures of his family around his bed - he's there often enough to make it a part-time office. Anything to make him feel more comfortable, right?

Of course, as much as I like making fun of McGrady for being the NBA equivalent of Mr. Glass, the fact of the matter is that the Rockets need him. The Rockets are 11-42 without McGrady since he joined the team in 2004. That's a pretty awful record (it actually looks like our game-by-game free throw numbers!). It's clear that McGrady's mere presence on the court is quite valuable to the team. If only he had the proper motivation.

I'm sure Les Alexander's figurative stock does not go up by a quarter of a point when McGrady is in a suit on the sidelines........

What do we do in his expected absence? Friday sends the Rockets to Memphis. If we can play the way we did the last time we faced the Grizzlies, we should be okay. Of course, McGrady was the ultimate distributor in that game. Without him, we now rely on Rafer and Stevie and our midget rookie. That could be ugly. I still say we chalk up a win Friday.

After that, Toronto and Golden State come to Houston. We should match up pretty well with Toronto. So long as we can neutralize Chris Bosh. Golden State is a matchup nightmare for us. Especially with no T-Mac. Don Nelson will likely expose the Rockets for what they are - the least athletic team in the NBA. We are young, but we have no athletes (except McGrady). How is it we've gone a decade without drafting at least one "live body" who can cut/slash to the basket and create offense for himself???

(note: we then go to Boston on the day after New Year's. Chalk up an "L".)

Anyway, by the time McGrady returns, I say we're staring at 2-2 without him, and 15-17 overall. There is still much work to be done.

Monday, December 24, 2007

You've all been naughty, but...

Christmas Eve. Santa and his elves are making last minute changes to the gift-giving lists. Who has been naughty? Who has been nice?

With a 13-15 record, good for 10th in the Western Conference, the Rockets certainly cannot expect "playoffs" to be found under their collective Christmas trees.
[insert Jim Mora rant here]

Nevertheless, it is the holiday season, and I should be in a good mood. With that in mind - here's the gifts I want to present to the Houston Rockets:

Yao Ming

A six-pack of Guinness. For you are going to need to develop a drinking problem to survive this season it appears.

Brilliant! (Oh, and Yao - ignore these guys' advice. DO drink 6 beers at the same time. It's good for ya!)

Shane Battier

For the whitest man I've ever seen, here's what you've been missing all these years. Dr. Dre with Snoop -- the Chronic.

Just don't offer Yao any gin and juice when he's busy drinking his Guinness.

Chuck Hayes

For the man with no hands, a pair of gloves. Some would even call them Mittens.
If anything this should hide what your hands look like right now...

Rafer Alston

Rafer... as much as I want to just give you $50 and a bus ticket and tell you to get the fudge out, I'll remain in the spirit of the season and give you the Better Basketball DVDs. Maybe you can learn fundamentals. This way you can then make an actual post pass to Yao when he's open!

Mike Bibby is like good and stuff. You, Rafer, are not (he's got a DVD instructional video - what do you have?!?)

Luis Scola

Uhhhh, a haircut? Nah, just kidding. For you, I give you season 1 of Family Guy. You might recognize one of the characters. You might seem to have something or ten in common.

and watch for this guy:

Rick Adelman

For you, our dear head coach, I am kind of stumped as to what to get for you this year. I don't know you that well, and I still sorta hold a grudge for you running JVG outta town. I also heard your son got busted for a DUI?? For you, I give you entry to a parenting seminar:

This might also come in handy when you have to give positive reinforcement to Stevie, Mike James and Chris Rock's little brother (Aaron Brooks)...... when you have to tell them that while you still love them, you won't be playing them very much.

Tracy McGrady

You, Tracy, I save for the last. For your gift is the most important, and also the most difficult to find. For you, T-Mac, I give you the Wizard of Oz on DVD. For you my friend need to find some courage. And fast. Or else you will be known as the Cowardly Lion in these here interwebs.

After you are done viewing the DVD, Tracy - I have already scheduled an afternoon where you and Travis Johnson can discuss the finer points of the movie. (God doesn't like ugly, by the way. I'm not sure about Santa's take on that trait.) You can then apply the heart/courage analogies to your professional life!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I take this as a personal insult!

So, I'm at the bar defending the honor of the Houston Rockets in the presence of a friend of mine who just happens to be a Pistons fan. What do I get for my loyalty? A 94-82 beatdown by an inferior Eastern Conference team. Thanks. And Merry Christmas.

Why do I defend you guys? All you've done is disappoint me this year.

Tracy goes out in the 2nd half with a mysterious back injury... again.
Yao goes out after needing stiches to close a cut on his face.
(yeah, so Tracy would actually have to stick his head in the action to get that kind of injury, so I am making a distinction here as best I can.)

By my count, that's now three times that Tracy has been "injured" in the second half of lopsided losses. Not that I'm declaring shenanigans here (okay, so fuck it, that's exactly what I'm doing!), but Tracy - you need to stop being a wuss. Yao gets beat the fuck up every night and plays through. Meanwhile, McGrady has V.I.P. reservations in the visiting trainer's room every night it seems.

Nope, there is clearly nothing to see here... move along. Fuck!

Quit losing to teams that are not as good as you!!!!!!

Merry fucking Christmas, indeed.

Yes, I'm posting the gifts I am giving each of you sometime tomorrow. And no, none of you fuckers is getting an iPod.

Get above .500 and my attitude *might* change.

It IS about time!!!

And it's one of the few times it seemed that they wanted to do it and actually could.

The Rockets played Adelman's brand of basketball last night and looky what happened... They kicked the crap out of the Bulls.

Why can't they play like that every night? Who knows, selfishness? That's the only thing I can think of, they don't want to play like that. There is absolutely no other reason that they can't pass the ball around, and not run the offense through Tracy until late in the shot clock. When we do that no one chucks, it's awesome.

Here's hoping that we see this offense and the combined defense to go with it the rest of the year

Friday, December 21, 2007

Why Oh Why??

I'm about to write something that I don't believe I've said out loud more than 2-3 times in my lifetime: The Rockets suck.

I'd explain how I came to that conclusion, but if you have to have that explained to you then I'll have Tommy come hit you on the head with a tack hammer 'cause you're a retard.

What's worse is that I think they may actually be better WITHOUT Tracy McGrady for the first time since he's been here. He's acting like a baby on the court and not playing within the system. Why isn't he? Because the system won't net him 28PPG on 37% shooting, that's the best I can garner. TMac wants to shoot the ball repeatedly whenever he feels like it. He also doesn't want to pass unless he knows he's getting the ball back. Even on pick and rolls with Yao he won't toss the pass back to Yao when he gets double teamed, it's the number two leading factor in Yao not getting enough shots (Number one being no one can throw a Kenny Smith entry pass. Knock The Jet all you want, but he could toss a hell of an entry pass). Tracy, you are the first out of five reasons this team is losing. And it hurts me to say it. I own not one but TWO TMac jerseys, a red and a white, no one can accuse me of not being a fan. I love the guy on and off the court. I know he's had a tough time with the family lately, but that's because he couldn't keep his dick in his pants around other ladies. Which begs the question, why in the fuck would an NBA superstar get married? What's the point? Most of the women they marry would have been fine with staying together without it. Another thing, if I was in the NBA, it would take until right after my first pay check to get some of the boys frozen and then get a vasectomy. There you go, problem solved. I'm a freaking genius.

The second most important reason we are losing is that Yao is not getting enough touches. He should be the first option on every single non-fast break possession. Hell, I wouldn't be mad if they slowed the fast breaks down and gave it to Yao, I mean why not? We get what, 2 a game at most?? Poor entry passes, late passes and missed opportunities to pass the ball to Yao are killing us. He's the best center in the league, yet people are openly questioning that because his teammates (past Shane Battier) can't get him the ball.

Third, is the Rafer Alston "led" shooting entourage. This includes Battier, Stevie, Mike James (especially Mike James because he's supposed to be instant offense), and Luther Head. I only include Luther because I don't know if there has been a guy on the Rockets since Matt Maloney that had a harder time creating his own shot, even if he only averages like 2 minutes of playing time each game.

Fourth, Rafer Alston, he fucking sucks, read anything with the tag "Rafer Alston sucks" for more ammo in your automatic "Rafer Sucks" weapon. Every time I see Rafer it makes me go Waterboy "Rafer sucks, he really, really sucks!" and I can't help but thinking that Adelman is happier with him than the voices say he should be.

Fifth, Free Throw shooting is an absolute enigma on this team. Why can't they, standing still from 15 feet away, hit a free throw?? Hell if I know, but it's even effecting Yao, and it's pissing me off. Stop getting in Yao's head!! And Tracy, stop making excuses, you are a "professional" the crowd should not be effecting your free throw shooting much at all. I haven't picked up a basketball in 6 months, but I guarantee I can go out and hit 7 out of 10 without warming up. Why can't paid professionals do that? Shit if I know.

That being said, I've said it many times, it will take until after the All Star break for this team to gel, I just hope that TMac gels with it. I wasn't counting on him turning into a malcontent, so he needs to get his shit together

People That Piss Me Off (Week... the Holiday edition!)

It's four days until Christmas. I don't want to be seen as Scrooge. Or the Grinch. Or a pagan.

Of course, with the Rockets playing like a NBDL team last night and losing for the 5th time in 6 games (in overtime! by 1 point!)... it's making it very hard to remain positive. Did we seriously just let Carmelo Anthony get 16 rebounds!?!? Well, chucking 34 three-pointers and missing 22 of them might be one of the reasons.

Ahhhh... trying to remain positive here. Without further ado - the People That Piss Me Off this week:

1. [empty]

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

(I will leave you with a funny picture - something tells me Rafer wouldn't have much of a chance in this fight)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's like I don't even know you anymore!

Rocket lose to Orlando... 97-92. In a game where the score is misleading for how much of a blowout it was/should have been.

(Yao fouled... no call. At least some things never change.)

1st half shooting
Rockets: 28.3%

overall shooting
Rockets: 34.1%

Surprisingly, T-Mac wasn't there to blame the bad shooting on the fans this time around. He didn't play the 2nd half because he's banged up. Again.

So, Coach Adelman did the only logical and rational thing he could do. He turned to Clyde Drexler for help.

"Can you shoot?" Adelman asked.

Smartly, Clyde stayed far, far away from the train wreck that is now your '07/'08 Houston Rockets. Yao Ming is doing everything he can. Aside from winning games. Tracy McGrady either doesn't play the 2nd half, or stays 35 feet away from the basket when he does play. Rafer Alston still can't make a post-entry pass. Or a jumpshot. Or a layup.

(okay, Rafer actually played "okay" last night and chipped in 17 points. Funny how his big scoring nights always come in losses though.)

Meanwhile, the Rockets have faded to a 12-13 record. They wouldn't even be in the playoffs if they started today. They wouldn't even be the 1st alternate if one team died in a fiery plane crash (I'm looking at you, Dallas!). This for a team that was 6-1 a month ago. A 6-12 spree of mediocrity has changed the perception of this season quickly.

What do we do? [Enter voice of reason and optimism]

While I am rarely the type of person one seeks out if they need a positive spin on things, there is hope here. No, it's not as simple as "trade Rafer Alston for Jessica Simpson" though. Sadly. For that would mess up two teams at once.

No - instead, I am going to preach patience. Yes, patience. Last year, the Rockets woke up every morning only to see this guy in their face:

And while I am a huge, huge fan of the JVG era and was sad to see him go, I understand... the fiery type coaches have limited windows of opportunity before players tune them out. In his place, we now have the friendly mug of this guy guiding us through the long, difficult stretch of time known as the NBA regular season:

See! I am not the only one who is confused! Adelman is, too.

Now, why am I preaching patience when I know that the NBA, its players and its fans usually possess none of that precious quality? Simple - Adelman runs a rather complicated motion offense. It didn't work immediately in Portland... but they figured it out and got to two NBA Finals (with Clyde!). It didn't immediately work in Sacramento (for many reasons)... but they got Divac and Webber and would have made it to at least one Finals if Kobe Bryant wasn't such a badass. They did make the playoffs though... with regularity. Something previously unknown to Cow Town Sacramento. And I believe it will work for the Rockets.

The hurdle, however, is that T-Mac seems reluctant to buy-in to this offensive scheme. And he's stopped playing defense in the meantime. Yao has been unable to thrive in the high post because Rafer, Mike James, Stevie and T-Mac can't get him the ball at the right time and at the right location. Which makes all the difference.

Obviously, I re-affirm my belief that Rafer must go.

And if the Lakers want to dangle Kobe for T-Mac, hell yeah...

But mostly, I am preaching patience. Just watch. By the All Star break (mid-February), at some point the proverbial light will go on for the Rockets. Maybe by then we will have figured out the point guard situation, how to properly use Quagmire, um, I mean Luis Scola, and also how to properly harness Yao's increasing anger. Then we'll go on a late season run.

Do I expect to win the Championship this year? Not anymore (sorry Mr. Hollinger!), but I do see hope for the very, very near future. Unlike a certain other sports team in Houston.

So, as a show of support for my theory, can you assholes just beat Denver tonight?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sports Guy is pissing China off (and me)

Not much mention of Bill Simmons has been made here on this blog. No real need to, for it's not like he needs our help to build an audience. But now he's overstepping his bounds. He claims to be a semi-guru of the NBA game. This year's "Trade Value (Top 50)" column is nothing short of a traveshamockery when it comes to the Rockets.

Though before we begin -- Remember, China - your new target is this man:

For those unfamiliar with his columns, SG/Simmons likes to rank 40-50 NBA players based on their trade value. #49 would never be traded straight up for #50... #1 would never be traded straight up for #2. Unless Billy King or Isiah Thomas is making the decisions.

How does this concern the Houston Rockets? Simple, T-Mac and Yao are on the list and analyzed - but not necessarily in a positive way. (Yao is #9 and still gets trash-talked by a 5'10" white dude from Boston with a bad accent.)


# 28. Tracy McGrady I had him eight spots higher until the last second, when I remembered he hasn't won a single playoff series and makes $20 million a year.

For context, here are the three players listed immediately behind T-Mac: 29, David West; 30, Caron Butler; 31, Josh Howard. Are you f'n kidding me?

If the Mavericks called up and said "hey, any chance you would trade T-Mac? Josh Howard might be available!", Daryl Morey would do an Austin Powers/Dr. Evil-esque 5 minute laugh until he realized it was a serious question. Same for David West and Caron. Caron Butler was traded for Kwame Brown once, and no one has really classified that as the NBA's version of a Bagwell for Larry Anderson trade. And I like David West, but he's not a franchise player. Nor is he the next Carlos Boozer.

Granted, I realize T-Mac has not won a playoff series. I also realize I've been criticizing him for being a wuss and a 4th quarter liability of sorts. That doesn't mean I am ready to trade him for a one-dimensional role player. And if "playoff victories" is the measure of everything, how is Dwight Howard #2 overall? His team got swept last year. The Freak has yet to even win a playoff GAME. Kobe has not won a series since Jerry Buss sold the FatAss out of town (and you have no idea how much it kills me to use Kobe as an analogy here).

Meanwhile, SG has Baron Davis at #15. Yes, Baron Davis. He of the Beard, the wayward 3 point shot, and the constant injury concerns. T-Mac is a more skilled, evolved and better shooter than Baron Davis. Yeah, Davis won a couple playoff series... so what? He hasn't won a ring - and he's not winning one this year, either.

I think the California air is polluting SG's brain. Too many Jimmy Kimmel jokes might do that to you. But T-Mac doesn't even get the worst of it. Here's Yao:


9. Yao Ming His untradeableness (probably not a word, but we're going with it) has been heightened by his value because of those aforementioned Chinese marketing ties. (I'm going out on a limb and guessing that it's lucrative to be the preferred NBA team for a country with more than a billion people.) On the flip side, his defense continues to cause problems, and he hasn't had the statistical surge everyone expected from an All-Star center in years five through seven of his career. If anything, he has regressed a little. Right now, he's a rich man's Rik Smits and that's about it.

Here's my question: Looking at the last 10 guys on this list, with the exception of Yao, each of them gives you a legitimate chance to win a title within the next five years as long as they're the best guy on a really good team. Could you say the same about Yao? To this point, no. Even Smits had some huge moments for the Pacers in the mid-'90s and ended up being the most underrated center of his generation. What has Yao done? His value has been completely distorted, as evidenced by the fact Houston never would have offered him straight-up for KG last summer ... even though KG clearly would have made the Rockets a better team. At some point soon, Yao needs to carry a good team or it's never happening. To be continued.

A poor man's Rik Smits? Ha ha. That joke was funny back in 2003 in Yao's second season. Just because Yao has a super-sweet jump shot and can make a free throw does not make him Rik Smits. Fuck it, let's compare:


career averages: 18.8 ppg, 52% FG, 9.0 reb, 1.5 assists, 1.9 blocks


career averages: 15.1 ppg, 50% FG, 6.1 reb, 1.4 assists, 1.4 blocks

Smits NEVER averaged more than 18.5 ppg in one season. Yao averages 18.8 for his career, and averaged 25.0 last year (and will probably hit 25 ppg again this season). Smits NEVER averaged more than 7.7 rebounds per game in any one season. Yao averages 9.0 for his career, and will probably hit the 22/10 level or better this year. To compare the two is an insult, and is done only because Yao is a better shooter than Shaq or Dwight Howard and no one has ever seen a player like Yao before. The dude is 7'5", can shoot, can shoot *free throws* and is possibly the strongest person in the NBA right now.

Yao has gotten better EVERY single season he has been in the NBA. He's all of 27 years old. (Hakeem didn't win his rings until he was in his 30s, oh, by the way).

Oh, and let's also point out the players ahead of/behind Yao: Kobe is at #10 (that's a joke in and of itself, but this isn't a Laker blog), Boozer is at #11 and Dirk is at #12. Okay, that's great company to be in. SG somehow dismisses all of this by saying Yao gets rated higher because it's convenient to be the favorite team of a country with 1 billion people watching. Yeah, it has to be that... or maybe the fact that he can do this in his sleep:

We do not appreciate xenophobic, backhanded compliments here. Then again, this is more fuel for the "Yao is Angry, and you will not like him when he's angry" fire. Suck it, Sports Guy! You can go back to fellating Kevin Durant now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

An ode to Chuck Hayes

My dear Chuck...

I must congratulate you for continuing in the tradition of "Chuck"s to play crucial roles for the Rockets.

Before you there was Charles Barkley.

Okay, in actuality, there was the artist formerly known as Charles Barkley who we had to trade Robert Horry and E.T. to acquire. But I digress momentarily...

before the Round Mound of Rebound, there was Chucky Brown, the everlasting good luck charm. And yes, this was the best (okay, *only*) picture of Chucky Brown I could find. Which is shameful, for he helped get us a ring. And Barkley hated him for it.

Meanwhile, Chuck Hayes, you contribute in ways few would have ever imagined. You went to school at Kentucky, a college basketball Mecca of sorts. Yet you were not even drafted. The NBA scouts thought you to be too small at 6'6" to play your position. They were only sort of right. Of course, fans in Houston took to you immediately. Probably because we can somewhat relate to you.

Chuck, your skills are profound. You are short by NBA standards. You cannot run very fast. You cannot jump very high. You have problems catching or holding a basketball. You appear to have a mental block in making a basic chest pass. You cannot make a jumpshot to save your life. You have issues with layups, too. Your free throw form is abysmal (but you were not responsible for the 6-for-22 game). And yet........... you are everything the Rockets need at the position right now.

You don't have the typical NBA ego. You don't need the ball in your hands to be effective (Thank God!). Even with your physical faults and shortcomings, you are still the best rebounder on the team. You relentlessly hustle (unlike others, *cough*Rafer!*cough*). You know your role on the team. Okay, so you aren't Robert Horry, but no one can meet that standard.

Hell, John Hollinger loves you and your PER. This cannot be overstated. Hollinger expects us to win the Championship, so we like Hollinger here.

Apparently you are beloved in China, too. (How the hell do you have a shoe contract with a Chinese manufacturer? Wow.) The time has clearly come for you to be recognized.

Chuck Hayes, we salute you!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Mavericks own us like it's the Wild West or something

Ahh, it’s another installment of Houston vs. Dallas, one of what I feel like is two rivalries for the Rockets. The other is with the Utah Jazz, who I hate. The Mavs I at least have respect for. The Spurs are just a nuisance even though they have been the best team in Texas for quite some time. I’ve never really felt a dislike for them. I know that’s odd since they have owned us for a while. I probably just feel still pretty whole from the ass kicking Hakeem used to put on the Admiral. Last time we played we led most of the way and really blew it, pretty sad game; we’ve had real trouble putting teams away most of the season. Hey, look what happened! We led the first half and then completely blew it again. Tracy gets hurt and who knows if he’ll have swelling in the near future.

The Rockets were a little sloppy early but at least seem to be playing like a team. The Mavs were pretty sloppy as well, keeping the Rockets in the game. Francis with an early three assists, I hoped TMac would realize that Steve just wants to help, but it still appears that he wants nothing to do with helping Francis succeed.

Right after TMac hit the floor with his knee and had to come out:
Worrell - When you’re young you go to the basket all the time, then as it goes on, you start shooting more jump shots.
Drexler- You have to take it to the basket, just pick and choose your spots

Basically I wish Tracy would turn into what Clyde was in his early thirties, a guy that could shoot the jumper and would, but would take it to the basket at will if the defense allowed it.

The McGrady injury didn’t look too bad, though I bet it hurt at the time and will have some swelling, it was basically the equivalent of bumping knees with another player but a little worse because the floor doesn’t move.

Did Dallas try to make their uniforms ugly, because they are terrible? They aren’t hideous like the jammy jerseys of the late 90s but they are really poorly designed.

At one point in the first half when I still had hope left for this game, Chuck Hayes drove to the basket and drew Dirk’s first foul, great play out of the “I suck on offense, so no one will expect this” mold. And Chuck has the ugliest free throw motion of all time, but he got a lane violation out of it which was nice. Chuck is great at what he does, but why do players keep trying to throw him the ball under the basket? What about the 90% of other times it’s been tried didn’t clue them into him being incapable of accepting or even thinking about the pass? Same goes for Mutumbo, even TMac tries to pass to him, that’s just poor planning on the drive.

On another note; Josh Howard is one of the greatest draft steals of all time. I just can’t see how anyone saw him at Wake Forest and didn’t think he could be like that in the pros. His game is perfect for the NBA and always has been. Great energy, getting even better as a shooter and always in the passing lanes, what more can you want from a late first round draft pick?

Yao loves playing against “The best center in the West” Eric Dampier. He uses him like no other. A turnaround dunk AND a turnaround reverse layup back to back at about the 3 minute mark of the first. Dampier sucks. I have to call it out, because I would have the other way, Yao fouled Stackhouse and it didn’t get called once in the first half, which never happens, I appreciated it. The only problem is that they decided on the other end that nothing against Yao except getting hit in the face was a foul, so that was not worth the trade off. Bonzi tells Yao to elbow the hit out of someone when going up. About fucking time someone said that to him. I’m getting really tired of them allowing guys to hammer his arms and not getting called for the foul, it’s freaking ridiculous. He started 4 for 9 and three of those “misses” were because he got hit and no calls. Yao is not happy with the way he’s being refereed. He actually went to talk to them at the half about it and of course they ignored him. Apparently you are allowed to front Yao by pushing him in the chest, the officiating in the NBA is pathetic at best. Dampier was doing that all night with no call, he also extended the hand and arm repeatedly and only got called for it once. I do not care that Yao has an advantage in size and height, how is that his responsibility? You call the game within the rules, you don’t make new rules for different players.

At one point in time the Mavs let Yao dribble with his back to the basket from 15 feet out to 5 before they doubled, that was dumb. Unfortunately the Rockets as usual decided that shooting jumpers 3 seconds into the clock was a better idea than getting him the ball. It’s freaking pathetic how selfish some of the guys on this team are. He started the first half with 14 and 10; I’ll take that, 14th double-double of the season…excellent. The problem is they kept going away from him every time he got into a rhythm. And I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask it again, why do the Rockets pass the ball to Yao’s junk when they do try and get it to him? They realize he’s 7’6 right? Dampier had pissed Yao off, not a good idea dude, now the Rockets have to get him the ball. Three straight trips afterwards, no ball to Yao… This is becoming an epidemic.

I have to call out Dampier one more time, Battier in-bounded a pass off his ass and caught it for the lay-up, seriously, Dampier sucks.

I took a lot more notes in the game, but that game just sucked. After playing like a team in the first half, sucking but playing like a team and hustling, they just blew apart in the second half. We are worse right now than we were last year at this time on offense. I can’t tell if they aren’t listening to Norman Dale or if he’s not yelling loud enough for them to hear.

Rockets lose by double digits, that’s 10 out of the last 11 to the Mavericks; I’m starting to hate them. The problem is that I can’t really hate them; we keep doing it to ourselves.

Friday, December 14, 2007

People That Piss Me Off (Week the Fourth)

And we meet again.

Though, for obvious reasons (I would think), this week's list will be light on NBA-related topics. For those that came to read about Rafer, Kobe, the FatAss or T-Mac... be patient. Yes, I recognize this is a Houston Rockets blog. I also recognize that it is my blog and I can write about other sports if the need arises. Moving along, the people and things that piss me off this week:

1. Roger Clemens

I wish I could write you a letter. It would be short, and sweet, and to the point. Okay, maybe it won't be so heavy on the "sweet" part. But it would be short. And the content would be very straightforward, simply:


I think you understand why. Ten years of 'roiding up and making me think you were just that good? I mean, we knew Bonds roided, and he was a smug prick about it. You, Roger, were a smug prick that we kinda liked because you were a smug prick. But now you are a liar AND you dragged Andy Pettitte into your world. Seriously, F-U.

2. Critics of Mario Williams.
(Who now are trying to shamelessly back-track)

This goes out to Richard Justice and all the "worst pick since Sam Bowie" journalists. Hey, did you see last night? (I was there, so I definitely did.) 3.5 sacks... 13 on the season. Hell yes. Oh, and how's Reggie Bush doing? Really? That bad? Wow... sorry, New Orleans. Someone is going to the Pro Bowl. It is not the scatback from USC.

Jay Cutler agrees that Houston made the right decision. He just wishes we didn't.

3. The MLB Players' Association
(and by default, Donald Fehr)

You assholes knew that steroids was ruining the game, its history and the relationship with the fans. You made no effort to stop it. As if the 1994 Strike didn't put you in a bad enough light. Now it is revealed that you went out of your way to tell players (even *former* players) NOT to assist Senator Mitchell in his research and investigation of steroids in baseball.

I may not be a lawyer (oh, wait a second, I *am* a lawyer)... but this sounds an awful lot like a tacit admission of guilt across the board. If you are not guilty of anything - you encourage people to talk. If you know you are guilty and about to be caught, you run (it's like your own version of OJ and the White Bronco).

Now I have to recind my support of Roger Clemens and pretty much every player not named Ken Griffey Jr. or Alex Rodriguez that played baseball from 1998 through the present time. Oh, an exception will be made for Frank Thomas. Much respect for you today, Big Hurt.

4. The 4th Quarter Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac... I really do like you. I do. Promise. But I like you a lot more in the first three quarters of a game than I do in the fourth quarter these days. I know you have the ability to be clutch. I saw your 13 points in 35 seconds spree against San Antonio. I know you can do this almost whenever you want.

And yet we have many games so far in the 2007/08 season where you shy away from being aggressive in the fourth quarter. Are you afraid to shoot free throws? Afraid of physical contact? Afraid of getting injured? A combination of all three?

For me, please, stop being such a wuss at the end of games. Dunk on someone's head when it counts. Or else I may encourage Yao to call you out by name for being soft.

5. Professional basketball players that cannot shoot free throws.

Yes, I am referring partially to the 6-for-22 debacle from Wednesday. Yikes. I don't have the stats in front of me but the average FT% across the NBA is something like 74%. It's a freakin' free throw. The fact that a professional athlete cannot make 80% of his free throw attempts is just sad. The old excuse used to be that the players are too tall and have too large of hands to shoot free throws consistently. Yeah, Yao put that stupid theory to rest. He's 7'5" and shoots nearly 90% every year. No more excuses. Learn to shoot, people.

Until next week..........

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stop mis-interpreting Yao!!

Yao said the Rockets are soft. I'm quite sure his use of the term "soft" was not directed to the team's shooting technique. Especially on free throws. Having a "soft touch" is a good thing when referring to the art of shooting a basketball.

The Rockets, however, did everything they could to prove to Yao (and others like me) that they are by no means "soft" - and if that required the Rockets to brick 16 free throws... so be it. 6 for 22? Are you freakin' kidding me? 1 for 15 to start? It was so bad Bonzi was hoping for an out of bounds play instead of a shooting foul. Rafer resorted to hugging referees and begging for help.

That shooting display would embarrass Chris Dudley. Yes, he of the career 45% FT mark, and the worst shooting technique ever seen on an NBA court. And after last night, he can claim to be twice as good as the Rockets.

T-Mac, ever the leader and never one to make excuses (*sarcasm*):

"It's mental. It's definitely mental," McGrady said. "It's just you and the basket. The fans definitely don't make it easy on you. Every time you miss a free throw, 'aarrghh.' That's the worst thing you can do to a player. He's thinking about it every time he goes up there."

"Bad night at the free-throw line, but we won the game." Yeah, you won... but it better not be providing you false hope.

I'm telling you... McGrady is taking steps to be the next Nick Anderson! Blaming the fans? Hella-weak, dude. Even some of the journalists are (finally) starting to pick up on this. From the Chronicle today:

"That's what makes McGrady so exasperating at times. There are times when he can do that sort of thing almost at will [the end of 1st half dunk]. The trouble is, that will tends to have a second-half expiration date."

I yelled at the TV at least 3-4 times in the fourth quarter last night. McGrady was killing the Pistons in the first quarter by taking the ball strong to the basket. The end of half emphatic dunk was the highlight of the game.

Video Highlights

Then, during crunch time - Tracy became jump shot happy again. Taking 3s instead of driving to the basket and putting pressure on the Pistons' defense. Bailing them out constantly. Next thing you know, a 10 point lead is a 2 point lead.

Hey, guys, hate to break it to ya... but that's exactly what Yao meant when he said you were "soft" - taking the quick shots early in the shot clock that Detroit is hoping you shoot to save them the effort of playing defense. Even Rasheed picked up on this:

"We are going to see those chumps again," Pistons center Rasheed Wallace said. "We are going to bust their (tails) the next time we see them."

Rasheed will get his chance... re-match is Sunday December 23rd - in Detroit.

Toughen up, Rockets - it does not get any easier from here.