The Dream Shake - a Houston Rockets blog: April 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Where nobody knows your name

Go Rockets!

Game 5: Where Utah takes the night off

Oh yeah! *That* was beautiful!!!

If you had told me a team would win by 26 points last night... I'm not going to lie, I would have suspected the winner would have been Utah. The Rockets are not exactly built to win playoff games by 26 points. We grind it out, wear you out - and then win by 5.

Utah disappeared last night. There is no other explanation.

Not that I am complaining - watching the Rockets kick ass and take names brought back fond memories of February and March. Good times. It also reminded me of 1994 and 1995. Even better times.

And, yes, the Rockets' defense is that good. Now you have more evidence.

Additionally, McGrady showed up for the fourth quarter, finished with 29 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists (and one gorgeous Kobe-esque fake-out of Andrei in the fourth quarter). Of course, McGrady did get a little jump shot happy and took about 4 more three-pointers than he should have (1-4 on the night). Nevertheless, he somehow finished with a 50% shooting night! A friend reminded me this morning that this is the first time in 23 games or so that McGrady shot 50% or better. Is T-Mac back???

Your obligatory Luis Landry line:

26 points (10-20 FG, 6-7 FT), 17 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.

The Rockets won when Shane Battier couldn't do anything on offense. The Rockets won even though we let Luther Head sneak into the game for 14 minutes. Luther did absolutely nothing in those 14 minutes, but hopefully Ricky saw that and duct-tapes Luther to his locker before Game 6.

Of course, the most impressive thing about the whole night?

The Rockets shot 15-19 from the free throw line!!!
Only 4 missed FTs!!!

It's not record-breaking or anything, but I'll take 78% shooting from this gang any night.

The second most impressive thing about last night?

The Rockets won even though Steve Javie was the referee. Trust me, that scared the s--t out of me when Lee sent me a text message pointing out that Javie was in the building. Javie scares me and he is notorious for being unfriendly to the Rockets.

Bit of advice for Utah? Stop flopping...

Anyway, Game 6 is now 'necessary' (and Game 7 will be, too).

Go Rockets!

Let's Take This Thing to a 7th Game!

Last night was an absolutely wonderful experience. After complaining about the lack of fans in their seats prior to tip-off, by about 1 minute gone in the first the crowd was fully in place and rocking. I have been to Game 7 of the Finals, and to Game 3 of the Finals and it was not louder than it was last night. The arena was absolutely electric. Apparently only the real Rockets fans (and there are real Rockets fans that didn't make it) decided to show up for this game and I could not have been prouder of the fans for the first 46 minutes of the game. Utah Sucks chants (No, it's not classy, no I don't care), Let's Go Rockets, stomping and clapping left and right, it was a great experience. I do have to take a minute to whine about fans leaving early though. There is absolutely no advantage to leaving with 2 minutes to go in the game, none. Please, next time, sit your butt down and cheer for the team who just gave you your money's worth.

I'd also like to take a moment to say something to the guys over at MyUtahJazz and here goes: FU guys! FU completely! Stop being such nice, upstanding, good fans that I feel like I have to defend Jazz fans! I really liked living in my world that assumed all Jazz fans were a-holes, that whined incessantly and went home with their ugly wifes. Now I know that most Jazz fans are good people that just love their team and aren't any more irrational about it than I am with my team. Seriously, screw you guys.

I've ridden him a lot in 3 of the first 4 games, and I will praise him as he deserves it, but Tracy was incredible last night. He didn't really change where he shot the ball from, he changed how he shot the jumper instead. He didn't fall away from the basket, instead he used repeated spin moves and picks to shoot jumpers that he was able to step into or jump straight up for. It turned into his first non-sub 50% shooting night in 23 games. Good job Tracy! Instead of using his knee as a limiter, he drove just enough that the Jazz were forced to think about it. That opened him up to a decent amount of clean looks at the rim and it paid off. Good game overall and finally a good 4th quarter.

The team moved the ball well and played phenomenal defense, we even got a few favorable non-calls on some ridiculous flops by the Jazz. I loved every minute of being there last night.

Now we just have to take care of business in Utah to bring it home!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Game 5: Where I better be going home happy!

Yeah, guess who got a ticket to the game tonight?
(Other than Lee, dammit!)


that's right -- me!

So I'll be eating and drinking in one of the suites while the Rockets fight their way back and hopefully make a legitimate series out of this whole thing. We win tonight and Utah *has* to win Game 6. No way we lose Game 7 if we can force it.

And Tracy, if I hear one complaint about the coaching, your shoulder/back/knee or why Matt Harpring isn't playing nice with you... I am going to snap faster than the Principal in Billy Madison would have if anyone got caught cheating. Joe Johnson scored more points in the 4th quarter last night against Boston than you have combined in four 4th Qs against Utah so far. And Boston plays MUCH better defense than Utah. You have no excuses. None.

Not to sound like Al Davis, but... just win, baby!

(I've just been informed I am not allowed to cuss during tonight's game. I promised I would behave. Don't make me have to break my promise, guys... please don't do it.)

Game 5, Win or go Home

Why is it that I always get busy whenever the Rockets have something big going? Work has been nuts this week and while I have had a ton of thoughts, I haven't had the time to put them down on the blog. Pair that with the fact that my new laptop didn't get here until today, and my old one has decided to not allow typing on a consistent basis and you get a gap in posts. Luckily, or unluckily if you don't like emotional craziness (I happen to be amused by it), Dave has filled in during my absence, never skipping an F-Bomb laced, TMac not driving the lane hating, beat.

Tonight the Rockets take on the Jazz in Game 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. If they win, it's back to Utah, if they lose, it's back to the drawing medical ward to hope and pray Tracy and Yao can finally stay healthy for an entire season together. I will be there, live and in person, sitting all by myself screaming my head off. Dave is still trying to find out if he will get a ticket from a friend, but hopefully we will both be in the building.

If we win tonight (and I'll be honest, it will have to be a hard fough win), the Jazz better watch out because this series WILL go 7. And even though the Jazz are the better team with Yao out, they might not be able to win the series in that 7th game.

On a quick note: Tracy, suck it the fudge up, stop whining. Either you can play or you can't. If you can, I do not care one bit how much you have to go through to get there. That 19MM is a good soother of sore knees.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Additional reasons to hate Karl Malone

Not that it should take much energy or effort to hate Karl Malone... the guy is a certified ass-clown, but today we have more evidence supporting the cause:

(The "Father of the Year" label for Mr. Malone is sarcastic - just in case you were wondering)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where to lay the blame?

Yes, the referees were awful (to both teams, but they killed the Rockets at the end)

Nevertheless, THIS is why the Rockets lost:

Take a close look at that. 36.7% FG shooting. 31% from deep. Another sub-70% night from the free throw line. (Thanks for that 4-8 effort at the line Tracy. Thanks a lot.)

McGrady misses 16 shots.

Bobby Jackson misses 90% of his shots. Including a layup the Jazz were conceding at the end. Nice touch.

Luther Head fired off two shots as fast as he could. And missed.

Why the hell is Rafer Alston shooting 18 times?

Luis Landry had a combined ten shot attempts. Most of those were on putbacks from McGrady and Bobby Jackson bricks.

For a team that plays such great team defense... the team offense was like a street ball game. First player to touch the ball shoots. That made it really easy for Utah to defend us. Look closer. The Rockets somehow converted 29 shot attempts successfully. Less than 50% of those were assisted by a teammate. How do you go through an entire game with only 14 assists?

Of course, what you can't see in this boxscore is McGrady attempting all of one shot in the 4th Q, and mostly standing around the three point line the whole time. Rafer was doing his best Steve Francis interpretation by dribbling out the shot clock. Bobby Jackson was doing his best John Starks impression. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

So, in conclusion, yes, I still think the refs hosed us on the Okur rebound at the end. But the reason the Rockets lost (since McGrady seems to savor the available excuses) is because the Rockets could not run, shoot or pass. Not necessarily in that order. Oh, and it would have been nice to give Mike Harris a chance. I still maintain that is a lost opportunity to match-up better against Utah.

That said - the Rockets are going to win Game 5. That means Game 6 will be the key to everything, because the Rockets will win Game 7 if they can force it.

Game 4: Where the Rockets got hosed

I'm not blaming the refs per se. The Rockets knew they wouldn't get any calls. They knew that the word "charge" is no longer in the rules unless Utah is on offense. Fine, no problem. We worked around it. Until the last 14 seconds where we got absolutely completely hosed by supposed veteran officials. What-the-fuck-ever.

Let me get this straight... if Luis Scola tries to rebound, it's a foul. Even if he has position and his hand on the ball? On the flip side, Okur can push someone in the back... step on them... kick the ball out of bounds on his own... and it's a foul on the Rockets!?!? Fuck that noise.

Of course, if Tracy McGrady could make a freakin' free throw this would all have been a non-issue. Or maybe stop taking 3s. I thought we had stopped doing that. I was wrong.

If Rafer Alston could have passed the ball to anyone in a Rockets jersey, that would have been nice, too. Rafer, it's like Milton and Lumbergh's birthday cake... just pass. Just pass. Contested three pointers are not generally a good offensive option. (Granted the one you made at the end was necessary and we are not talking about that one.)

If Bobby Jackson didn't get pwn3d by Ashton Korver on offense and defense... that would have been super. Not sure BJ could have played any worse tonight.

The ending was complete bullshit.
And - in hindsight - a completely predictable and shitty end to my shitty day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Game 4: This one is different, this is important

The giddy hangover induced by Game 3 has somewhat subsided (only to be replaced by an NFL Draft hangover). The Rockets need another victory tonight in Utah. So far the Rockets are the only team to win twice in Utah this year. Though we kinda need to also be the only team to win three times now, too. It can be done.

Things to look for today?

1. Big game from Luis Scola. Scola has been productive, but he's not shooting very well in the first three games. If he can go up strong for layups and not try to avoid contact, he can draw fouls and take easier shots. I foresee a 8-12 FG, 20 point, 12 rebound game from Luis tonight. And his tag-team partner will be there as well. Just missing a tooth (a fake tooth, but still...)

2. Tracy McGrady to hopefully not revert to long-distance T-Mac. I was overjoyed that Tracy eschewed the three-pointer from his game on Thursday. I hope he maintains that approach and takes the ball strong to the basket again. If the box score has another 1-5 on 3s next to Tracy's name, that is not a good indicator for success tonight.

3. the Finger Wag. We haven't seen much from Dikembe this series. Tonight is the night he sets the tone early and gets a few early blocks (I hope!!). Wagging the finger at Utah Jazz fans would be particularly awesome, too.

Things I hope to avoid today?

1. Foul trouble. I anticipate a few lopsided calls in the Jazz favor tonight. I have no idea who the referees are just yet, but the Rockets need to know that the refs will likely not be bailing them out of anything and a couple ticky-tack offensive fouls on picks or push-offs is probably going to be called. Probably on Scola too; he's a bit handsy. Rise above it, Rockets.

2. A potential big game from Carlos Boozer. Men who stab blind men in the front for money do not deserve good karma. That said, Boozer has been relatively quiet so far. If he goes for 30+ tonight, we need to find a way to counter that (Scola? Landry? Battier? ... Mike Harris??)

3. This is huge. The Rockets MUST avoid an early deficit. It's one thing to make a 10 point comeback attempt at home. The Jazz are expecting a blowout still. An early sizeable lead would only instill confidence in guys like Kirilenko, Okur, Price and Harpring. Please do whatever it takes to keep Utah from feeling confident.


Nothing has gone according to plan this entire series. The Rockets will get an early lead, play aggressive defense and win another close one by converting free throws and not shooting ill-advised three pointers early in the shot clock.

Also, if I see Rafer or Bobby Jackson go underneath the pick when Deron runs the pick and roll... I might just snap. Deron is on fire so far. Do not go under the pick and give the dude easy looks!!!!! Don't do it!!!

Go Rockets! Bring the series back to Houston knotted at 2!

Not the best start to the day

Uhhh, let's hope the Rockets don't f--k up tonight the same way the Texans f--ked up their first round pick today. That was just... I don't even have the words. The Texans may have just made Matt Millen look smart by comparison.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Live Blog

As a heads up, I will be running a live blog tomorrow night for the game, come by and check it out. It was a lot of fun over at MyUtahJazz and during the Phoenix game.


Rockets vs Jazz Game 4 Interactive Chat - Live Blog

Weekend plans? Oh, I have many!

In addition to watching the Rockets continue to stun Utah and their crazy fans (seriously, would a Rockets fan ever get ejected for trying to shake the basket and cussing out a referee?)...

there's also this NFL Draft thing on Saturday. And while, yes, this is predominantly a Rockets blog, I happen to love the NFL. And its Draft. And the ability to make fun of Mel Kiper's hair. I do not love when Berman ruins the suspense and tells me who is being picked though. FU, Berman. Now that the Texans are no longer a losing franchise (8-8, bitches!), and because we've done well with the last couple drafts... there's a lot of suspense building up for the 18th pick.

So, before I put my Scola jersey on tomorrow night and get ready to yell at Rafer/McGrady (9:30pm CST on ESPN)... I will be watching various NFL teams mortgage the future and spend mega-millions on 21 year old dudes whose intelligence is based on a 50 question multiple choice test. But not the Texans. We will draft wisely.

Why do I bring all this up?

Because there will be an awesome (dare I say "legendary"?) live-blog, NFL Draft chat thing going on over at DGDB&D beginning at 1:30pm tomorrow afternoon.

Assuming it doesn't take too long for me to eliminate all of my competition in a morning poker tournament, I'll be over at the DGDB&D chat shortly after it starts! See ya there?

Well how about THAT!

From a commenter this morning "Just about every questionable call went Utah's way, and the Rockets still pulled it out. "

I for one agree with that sentiment to a large extent. I had a unique perspective on the game last night as I went into the lion's den and tried to represent The Dream Shake on MyUtahJazz's live blog. (FYI, if they do it again, can some of y'all please come over and help me? Don't be jackasses, represent the Rockets fans well, but help me keep their heads out of the clouds.) And all game there was constant bitching about the officials and how the Jazz were not getting a fair shake in the game. Let me preface the rest of this with this tidbit: I have to give them credit that when I called them out on said bitching, they did watch replays and most of the time agreed with my assessment that either the proper call was made or the proper no call was made. I too ate crow a couple of times with my mis-analysis on the replays.

Okay, with that out of the way; every fan base thinks they are getting hosed. I for one cannot look at the free throw discrepancy and believe any Utah fan could think they didn't get the better of the calls last night. In that crazy fourth quarter stretch where the Jazz were called for 3 fouls on one series, they questioned every single one (Hell I would have too if it happened to the Rockets), but every single one was a completely legitimate call and I would have been furious if any of them were not called. For CB Jack, Ron Boone and UtesFan, read it back, y'all were crazy with a few last night. I don't point this out to say that there is anything wrong with the craziness, I just find it funny how different one can see it with Red or with Hideous Blue tinted glasses on.

Anyway, the Rockets played very well and didn't make mistakes. They only had a 22 game winning streak-esque 9 turnovers. And Rafer was a huge key to the game (He still sucks, don't worry loyal Dream Shake readers, I'm not going to jinx him!), his 5 assists to 1 turnover ratio was great and was exactly what the Rockets needed. Just to insure I don't jinx him, he did end the game on a 1-5 streak from behind the arc. He only played about 3 minutes of defense on Deron Williams, but honestly, that was probably the biggest key to the game. Locking up D-Will late turned the game in the Rockets favor. I liked that he didn't overexert the hamstring and used it when he absolutely had to.

Enough has been said about Tracy here lately, but it looked to me like he figured out how to properly help the team without killing himself through the first 3 quarters. He played defense in short spurts and didn't waste energy chasing someone unnecessarily, it really was pretty impressive. His fourth quarter was actually borderline good, mind you it didn't get all the way there, but it wasn't even in the realm of horrible like the first two games. His two last shots were not good (for the horrible almost missed everything last shot that is an understatement), but his defense on the other end made up for it both times immediately following the misses.

As Dave said earlier, Luis Landry is back! The Luis part hasn't gone anywhere, but the Landry part was a sight for sore eyes. He was everywhere, getting rebounds, chasing lose balls, willing the Rockets to a victory. Jazz fans that didn't get to see him during the streak, that is almost exactly what he was like every minute on the court. I say almost because his explosiveness isn't there yet, but he finally realized that he can still hustle and help the team.

All in all, I'm not getting my hopes up too much, but this is the Rockets team I thought would win the series in 7. A guy can still hope, right? Win Game 4 and I promise to bring my We Believe sign to the game!

The NBA Playoffs: Where Luis Landry Happens

Kiss My Ass, Carlos Boozer - there will be no sweep!!!!

Rockets try their best to blow a 7 point lead, but Luis Landry was having none of it.

Game totals

Luis Landry - 23 points, 21 rebounds, 10 fouls, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The last block being HUGE. Lose tooth... block shot... save the game. It's a zero sum game.

Defense, defense, defense. The Rockets finally boxed out and stopped going underneath the picks... and all of a sudden, they started winning. Amazing how that works!

Stat of the Day

Tracy McGrady - 0-0, 3 pt. FGs

The obligatory Tracy McGrady commentary: see what happens when you stop taking outside shots and drive the ball to the basket?!?!? Good things happen! All good things. Of course, T-Mac forgot this rule with 1:40 left to go and stopped driving the ball and started taking those off-balance 18 footers again (missing badly, I might add), but he made up for it with a big block and a big defensive rebound.

Hey, guys, in Game 4 - could you do me a favor? Stop leaving Ashton and Memo open for clean looks at 3-point shots. When a 7 point lead turns into a 1 point lead in less than a minute, that's hard to sit through. Let's not do that again. Next time, push the lead into double digits. Step on their necks. Crush their spirit. Deal?

(Meanwhile, I'm going to ignore the fact that McGrady was nearly scoreless again in the 4th Q... waiting until 4 minutes left to go. And he still has only 2 FG over 3 4th Qs so far. It remains a concern going into Game 4.)

Go Rockets!!!!

*note: For Utah Jazz fans, "Luis Landry" is the combination of Carl Landry and Luis Scola. I figured you might need the explanation. Our rookies are better than your roookies.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blogger Roundtable with MyUtahJazz

So, Tuesday night Lee and I took part in a blogger roundtable with the guys over at MyUtahJazz. Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm moderated... and led off with "hey, Dream Shake guys - so how screwed are the Rockets?" Needless to say... it was a "hey, salt - meet the wound" level of statement, but we rolled with the punches.

You can find the complete audio recording of the discussion here.

When the Rockets force Game 7, we've agreed to do this again.

Game 3: Where the Rockets must choose wisely

I see the game going in one of two directions...

Option #1 - the Rockets play with pride, stun the Jazz (and the home crowd) by not giving up. This includes rebounding, fighting for loose balls, not shooting bail-out 3s with 10 seconds on the clock, making free throws, passing the ball, constantly moving on offense, and not giving up easy layups on the defensive end, etc.

If the Rockets do this and manage to keep the game close - McGrady might feel compelled to actually play in the 4th Quarter... which might assist the Rockets in securing a "W".

This would make me happy.

Option #2 - the Rockets follow the lead of Tracy McGrady and whine and cry about everything... essentially giving up. The end.

If the Rockets do this, the Jazz will win by 20+, and we all know it.

This would not make me happy.

My prediction? The Rockets choose wisely, select Option #1, and win a close game in Utah. Making Game 4 very, very, very interesting on Saturday.

Game 3: Rockets vs. Jazz

The Rockets go into the proverbial Lions den tonight, amidst, well...

Let's be honest. They're Mormon. And they're in Salt Lake. And there's nothing else there. ... You've got to smile and be happy all the time. This might be one opportunity for fans to get vicious."

Okay, so I don't agree with that sentiment at all. In fact, that was a really stupid thing to say by Bucher. I do believe they have the best home court advantage in all of the NBA however. Energy Solutions Arena is built so the fans are right on top of the players. The fans come in all the same color to the games and are loud and whiny the whole game. I truly believe it is one of the very few places that referees are actually swayed by the crowd. Every other place I believe that to be true is a college arena, there is no other NBA equivalent. The crowd in Utah is undeniably phenomenal for their team. Last year in the first round of the playoffs Golden State was able to pull that off, that was for one round, Utah does it every single game. My hat is off to those loud, whiny, dressing alike bastards.

Going into the game, Tracy is at it again, proving once again, you don't play with your mouth. The Rockets are down 2-0 and while, in an effort for full disclosure, we and just about everyone else have been harder on him than is probably necessary, he still is the "superstar" and needs to just suck it up. From Jonathan Feigen's article in the Chronicle today:

"It's my fault," McGrady said. "It's my fault we missed free throws. It's my fault we lost both games. Blame me. It's my fault we fouled to tie the game up. That's my fault. It's my fault they get easy layups. It's my fault we're not executing well on the offensive end. It's my fault a couple people in the stands ordered Heinekens and they got Budweiser. It's my fault. I'm sorry."

Told the beer reference might have revealed his straight-faced sarcasm, McGrady rolled on.

"I am serious," he said. "It's my fault. Everything is my fault. It's my fault. It's T-Mac's fault. "Everybody's blaming me. The Suns (for being down 2-0 to the Spurs). I mean, everybody. That's what it seems like. It's my fault. I'm out there by myself."

On the surface, what he said is hilarious. It just is. For instance, the Heineken part was pure gold. With any level of diving below that surface, it is truly tragic. Tracy simply does not get it. It's not his fault, I completely agree with that, but he doesn't even address that it is his problem. And as the 19MM per year player that he is, he gets to shoulder that blame. And again, for 19MM per year, in no way do I feel sorry for him. I loved his attitude before the playoffs last year, "It's on me". This year, he tried to deflect it to his teammates, which to me was his way of saying that you can't blame him if they fail. In the end, it's not about Tracy, it's about the team, so why does he always try to make it about what you can, or can't say about him?

Tonight's game will go a long way with me in determining if Tracy is just trying to bide his time with some words before he breaks out. I know he has a full four quarters of dominance in him. He's 28 years old and there is no way I believe he is so out of shape (NBA basketball superstar shape that is) that he can't go 4 quarters hard on 2.75 days of rest. To win this series, we have to have 4 full quarters, it's as simple as that. With a banged up team and only one of our two star players, it's on Tracy to get it done. He will need his teammates, but not nearly as much as they need him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the NBA: Where not voting for Kobe happens

Yes, it's true. I had an MVP ballot and everything... and I did not vote for Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant. I couldn't believe it myself. Nope, we cast our vote for CP3.

Oh, yeah, for context - here's Part II (and the conclusion) for the Blogger MVP/ROY and other awards voting over at We Rite Goode...

no real surprises. Lots of pretty graphics. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One for the Jazz Fans

Just because it's true

Sometimes I really love Clutchfans

A small note for clarification purposes

I'm still angry about last night's game. That anger isn't going away any time soon. I think I was more emotionally invested in this team and this season than any Rockets team since the 1997 season (which ended on Karl Malone tackling Clyde Drexler and allowing Stockton to hit that shot...)

And yes, I am being extremely critical of Tracy McGrady today. Deservedly so, I believe. Look, I am an emotional person. I am really happy when the Rockets win. And prone to devastation when they lose. Especially in the playoffs. Last night was just the worst of all scenarios.

Does that mean I'm pinning the loss on McGrady? NO! At least not 100%.

EVERYONE was responsible for what happened last night.
Everyone except the referees that is... you gotta let that go. Scola fouled him. Not hard, but it was a foul. Whether or not it should have been called is debatable, but it was a foul.

To win in the playoffs, you have to do three things:

1. Rebound
2. Make free throws
3. Don't turn the ball over

The Rockets did none of those things adequately in Games 1 or 2. Including McGrady. But also including Scola, Jackson, Battier, Hayes, Brooks, Head, Mutombo and Landry. Without Yao we already had an unfair degree of difficulty in advancing to Round 2. But the Rockets unnecessarily made it easy on Utah. Utah played great in Game 1. Game 2 was different - Utah was vulnerable and gave many, many openings to be defeated. The Rockets did not take advantage. They now need to win twice in Utah. Can it be done? Yes. It can. We've been down 0-2 before after dropping two at home. And we won the series.

My concern is that this team has yet to show that it has the heart of the team(s) that had Hakeem, Horry, Sam and Mario. We need to find (or develop) those kind of players ASAP.

Follow-up to Dave's Follow-Up

1. Can someone explain to me why a career 33% three-point shooter (and 29% this year) averages more than 5 attempts from beyond the arc over the last four years?

Answer: Though I hate it probably even more than you, all of the superstars do it. It's a feel thing, but (and I have no actual proof) from what I've seen, they sure as hell don't waste them in the 4th quarter and then do nothing else. And 29% is awful, it's worse than LeBron and not even close to Kobe this year. So while Tracy has continually gotten worse from out there, Kobe has raised his game. Not that Kobe or LeBron have anything to do with Tracy, others have just brought them up in the comments. It's plain and simple, Adelman should be telling him not to shoot them. There should be no gray area on it.

2. Would Kobe Bryant ever be caught saying "I didn't have anything (in the fourth quarter)" .... "It's tough, banging with these guys."???

These too, in this regard, are closer than others have said. Tracy once demanded a trade out of Orlando, so leave the "Kobe whined all off season stuff out of it". The answer to the question is hell no. Kobe right now is playing with what I feel is a worse injury than anything Tracy is dealing with (his pinkie vs. Tracy's shoulder). And I haven't heard him whine once about it.

3. Would Michael Jordan ever say he was tired?

Not in a million years, and he would punch you if you told him he looked tired. MJ played through everything but his broken leg in his career.

4. Should the supposed "best player" on a 55 win-playoff team (one with home court advantage) get cut some slack after averaging a robust 0.5 points in two 4th quarter efforts???

I say no, the 4th quarter is winning time. It is Tracy's 19-20 million dollar a year job to win and take the blame if they lose. Sorry, that's what a max contract earns you. Is it fair? What do I care? I have a great job, where I make very good money, and Tracy still makes roughly 19-20 million year more than I do. When I do my best, but it wasn't good enough, do you think anyone else cares that is my "customer"? Hell no, they want it right every single time. I don't get to blame my team like he has done, I don't get to bitch about the experience of my team around me. I do my job and I do it well. I expect nothing less of Tracy, and while I feel everyone else that comments here is welcome to their opinion, so am I.

By the way, to the commenter saying that Tracy is the best player in this series, have you been watching Deron Williams? There is no way Tracy is outplaying him right now, it's not even debatable.

5. Would the presence of Rafer freakin' Alston really have made a difference? (I'll answer this one: NO!)

I hate to tell you Dave, but you are flat out wrong on this one. I have had my battles of hate with Rafer, but he is better than Bobby Jackson at this point in his career and much better than Aaron. That's not a knock on those guys, right now they are roll players. Rafer is the starting point guard on this team for a reason. He's strong enough to body up Deron Williams and he is great at getting in the paint and disrupting the defense. I for one believe he would have helped a lot.

6. When the guy who was actually called for the foul (Scola) doesn't blame it on the refs, why is McGrady making statements like this: "You can't call that," McGrady said. "I saw a replay, and that was a bad call. I like Tony Brothers, but that was a bad call. Very, very bad call. Three points down at a crucial point in the game, and Kirilenko flops. He flops, and you call the foul on that? It was a bad call. It was a bad call."

To anyone saying Adelman did this too, I offer up this: So what? Adelman is the coach, it is his job to lobby referees and the league when the team is wronged. He is the general, and Tracy is the soldier. Tracy should have shut his mouth and just said "there were a lot of plays that could have changed the outcome, one play doesn't make a game." Instead he came off as a whiner, something he has gotten very good at after games this year. I'm so sick of it. In my book, at 19-20MM a year, whining, not having enough gas in the 4th quarter and being "tired" are in no way acceptable.

And the hits just keep on comin'...

Kevin Garnett named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

It's okay, while I know Shane is truly DPOY, I was resigned to the voters giving it to KG as a consolation prize for not naming him MVP... I get it.

What makes no sense to me? Shane only finished THIRD!!

Behind Marcus Camby!??!?!?!?!

Marcus Camby, he of the team that is universally known for playing NO defense. Ask Kobe and the Lakers how much defensive resistance they got from Denver on Sunday. Yes, I know Camby won last year... but there is no way he should get more votes than Shane. Ridiculous.

A few follow-up questions for today

1. Can someone explain to me why a career 33% three-point shooter (and 29% this year) averages more than 5 attempts from beyond the arc over the last four years?

2. Would Kobe Bryant ever be caught saying "I didn't have anything (in the fourth quarter)" .... "It's tough, banging with these guys."???

3. Would Michael Jordan ever say he was tired?

4. Should the supposed "best player" on a 55 win-playoff team (one with homecourt advantage) get cut some slack after averaging a robust 0.5 points in two 4th quarter efforts???

5. Would the presence of Rafer freakin' Alston really have made a difference? (I'll answer this one: NO!)

6. When the guy who was actually called for the foul (Scola) doesn't blame it on the refs, why is McGrady making statements like this: "You can't call that," McGrady said. "I saw a replay, and that was a bad call. I like Tony Brothers, but that was a bad call. Very, very bad call. Three points down at a crucial point in the game, and Kirilenko flops. He flops, and you call the foul on that? It was a bad call. It was a bad call."

Enough excuses, Tracy. I'm sick of it. It's always something, isn't it?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tracy McGrady: Initech Employee

And why Initech? Because Tracy McGrady is a big pussy.

That's it. I am done with you, Tracy McGrady. No more T-Mac. It's like Anakin Sywalker has complete morphed into Darth Vader. Except that you are not a nubian god and you aren't the least bit scary anymore. You have devolved into a giant choking machine. You are far worse than the Cowardly Lion, because at least the Lion knew what a giant pussy he was and tried to find courage. You.... well, not even the Wizard could help you I think.

Yes, you played great for 36 minutes. Yes, you almost had a triple double. No, I don't give a shit. The only stat that matters is the one that has a "W" in it. And let's not forget the backbreaking 5 turnovers. Meanwhile, you now are now 0-2 on Ws when it matters this year. You fucking lost two home games. To fucking UTAH!

What happened to T-Mac? The guy who dunked on Shawn Bradley's head?

We can publish the obituary tomorrow, because he is dead.

I should have known. The very first shot you took... 30 seconds into the game... a contested three-pointer. And why? No one has any clue. Tonight? 0-4 on 3s. 5-9 on free throws. 9-22 from the field... which isn't on its face too bad, except that the fourth quarter AGAIN produced 0 FGs from anyone named "McGrady." You are the anti-Kobe. And now you are dragging Houston and Yao Ming down with you. When push comes to shove, McGrady settles for jump shots. Again.

I watched the game tonight from a local bar with a bunch of Rockets fans. I even brought along a Pistons fan friend of mine with me. The whole game she kept asking me "why is Tracy taking difficult jump shots? Are they even double-teaming him?" Answers: I have no fucking idea and no. In Game 1, you got locked down by Ashton Korver... then you blamed your teammates because you couldn't get open. In Game 2, Utah played straight up... and you still couldn't make much of a difference. Sure, you got 13 rebounds and 9 assists, and I am sure you will quote this to the first reporter who asks you about how well you played. You just have no idea what it takes to win AND be a team player.

It's sad that it has taken me this long to realize that you just are not programmed to win when it matters. Toronto knew. Orlando learned. Houston is now suffering through it. I don't doubt that you like playing basketball, Tracy. I just don't think you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to be great. Which would be okay if your name was "Rafer Alston" but it's not. You are paid to be a star and at least win a freakin' first round series. Instead, you are now 2 games from being 0-7 in your career in Round 1. Shit, even your cousin Vince Carter found a way to accidentally win a playoff series or two. And EVERYONE thinks he is a giant douchebag. What does that make you, Tracy?

The worst part of tonight is that the rest of the team played well (for the most part). Granted, Luther Head needs to be packaged along with Tracy whenever we trade his carcass back to the Eastern Conference. And sure, I bet someone is going to point to Scola's 4-11. But Scola is the exact opposite of McGrady. Scola catches the ball and looks to inflict punishment on his way to the basket. There's no fading away. Scola is energy... all the time. And pure aggressiveness. And he still managed 14 points and 5 rebounds. You can't blame Scola. Or Battier. Or Bobby Jackson. Or Dikembe. Or Chuck Hayes. Or Carl Landry - who is barely 50% healthy.

I'm angry that such a promising season ... one with a forever memorable 22 game winning streak ... is 2-3 games from ending on such an anti-climactic note. Scola and Battier fought to win tonight. Tracy McGrady sat back and watched.

Yes, the call on Scola against Andrei Kirilenko was complete and utter bullshit. Andrei flopped. Everyone knows it. But here's the thing. It should NEVER have come to that. The Rockets rise above such things. The REAL Rockets. The version with the Heart of a Champion. That version did not take the court tonight. Or Saturday. That version seemed to have died on March 18th.

Screw you guys, I'm goin' home!

Rockets/Jazz - Game #2 preview

Game 2. Tonight at 8:30 CST at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

We better f--king win...

Get up, T-Mac. It's Time -- time to drop 40, 15 and 8 on Utah's head.

End of season awards, part I

The guys over at We Rite Goode are hosting the final blogger vote of the year for all the NBA awards... you know, MVP, ROY, COY, etc.

But because it's the end of the year and we need more material, they are breaking it up into multiple posts and are adding new categories to vote on.

You can find the results here, and yes, Lee and I got to vote, and we voted for Durant (Scola 2nd), Adelman and Turkoglu (Dunleavy Jr. 2nd). Yes, I wanted to vote for Luis Scola as rookie of the year, and yes I am a complete homer, but no - I am not that delusional. Meanwhile, Lee was conflicted by his loyalty to the Rockets and also to his college team, which just so happened to employ Mr. Durant for 4 months a year ago.

The excuses are starting already

It's not a good sign when you lose the first game in a 7 game series and the local columnists are already writing obituaries for the Rockets AND some of the players. Seriously, guys, it's all of one game. There are 6 more to go!

Today's headline? "Playoff flop? Alexander has McGrady's back" (yes, I know Richard Justice forgot the apostrophe and the 's', but he's already got enough issues being a no-talent ass clown... no need to pile on further.)

What kills me about Richard Justice is his tendency jump to conclusions. It's like he bought Smykowski's prototype and uses it as a security blanket for his column ideas.

For example, if Justice isn't complaining about the Texans screwing up because we didn't draft Vince Young (since proven wrong), it's the 2005 Astros' season being over in May (see the article next to the infamous tombstone graphic that year). Now Justice is already making excuses and trying to explain some supposedly inevitable Rockets' playoff loss.

Today it's about the Rockets and T-Mac. And while Justice doesn't come out and write a pure gloom and doom storyline... he's setting the stage for hedging his own bet.

[Now, let me be clear - Justice is dead on correct when he says Les Alexander is a great owner of a sports franchise. He is. The decision to hire Daryl Morey was genius. It does help that Daryl Morey actually is a genius, but that's another point for another day...]

But today's column leads off with the typical McGrady is a playoff choker hook. Justice segues into the opinion on Les Alexander, but he relies on the McGrady-as-not-clutch cliche to get there. Which is sad. Yet true.

Just look at li'l Dickie's last line in the column:
"Things are against the Rockets again after Game 1."

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise. I guess I shouldn't expect much from him. Of course, if McGrady goes for 40/15/8 tonight, you know Richard Justice will be the first in line to fellate him after the game.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

To take nothing away from the Utah Jazz...

The Jazz played great in Game 1. No doubt about it.

The Rockets, however, should have had a halftime lead (two layups where BJ kicked it out of bounds on the way up, and two defensive rebounds that were dropped/fumbled right into the Jazz' hands for easy baskets)... that's an 8 point swing right there.

The 4th quarter was abysmal. Nothing I can say to make it any better.

On a sidenote: Hey, Jazz fans... you are welcome to comment here. Really. And since you are winning 1-0, you have free reign to all the trash talking you want in the comments. But grow a pair and try not to do it anonymously. I know Banky Edwards summed it up years ago by stating that the purpose of the Internet was to slander others anonymously, but come on... I give little to no weight to those who don't even have the courage to create a fake name.

Game 2 Monday. A definite "must win"... for if we start out 0-2, well... I'm not even going to consider the possibility yet.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Game 1: Let's never do that again

Well, that was a completely uninspiring an all-over depressing effort tonight by the supposed good guys. Translation: 93-82... WHAT THE FUCK?!?! We had a Loren Woods sighting. That should about sum it up.

Things that we must improve upon (greatly) in the next 46 hours:

1. Rebounding. Yes, both teams tied with 41 rebounds, but anyone who saw the game could clearly see that Utah was far more aggressive when it mattered and got a lot of cheap/easy baskets simply by rebounding.

2. Make free throws. Did we learn nothing from the Memphis/Kansas college game? Missed free throws kill. Rockets were an awesome 18-29 from the charity stripe. When we scratched and clawed back to actually take a lead... the clanging began. Which not only cost us points, but gave the Jazz momentum. Game over shortly thereafter.

3. Cover the token white guy. The turning point in the game was letting Ashton Korver get wide-the-fuck open for two easy three point shots. He's not going to miss those. Just not going to happen. A tie game became an 8 point deficit and that was the end.

4. More T-Mac (less Tracy). Great third quarter. Then "Tracy" came in for T-Mac. No layups. Not even attempted layups. A few jumpshots. Hey, Tracy, do you know how/why you got blocked by Ashton? It's because YOU DID NOT TAKE THE BALL TO THE BASKET LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO!!!!! A layup attempt becomes a blocked shot. Ugh.

5. Less Luther Head/Steve Novak. I like Novak. I really do. And I like Luther Head in small doses. Just not in this series. Both got abused. Both will continue to get abused.

Luis Scola didn't shrink from the pressure. And Shane Battier had a good offensive game (but a terrible defensive one). T-Mac was uneven. He needs to be a beast in Game 2... for if we lose that game, we may not be coming back to Houston alive. Scary thought, indeed.

For a team that beat us in the playoffs a year ago, you'd think we'd have been more motivated and ready to go from the opening tip. Guess I was wrong... maybe *I* am the only one that was out for revenge. Game 2 better be a whole hell of a lot different. In effort and result.

Wow, phenomenal start to the playoffs

That 2 OT game between San Antonio and Phoenix was phenomenal. Great way to start off the potential greatest Western Conference playoffs in NBA history. Duncan with 40 and the first three of his career (that's what they said anyway) to send it to a second OT. Then Nash with a falling out of bounds three and Manu with a cold blooded layup to end it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Playoffs

It's playoff time and Dave and I finally got our wish; a playoff rematch of last year's heart breaker. It's Houston vs. Utah and I for one cannot wait. I absolutely revel in the fact that no one is giving the Rockets a chance this year. It's exactly what happened when the Rockets were on a 12 game winning streak and Yao went down, and we know how that went. Anyone saying they thought the Rockets would win 55 games, that is not a Rockets fan, is lying. And yet that's exactly what they did. A record that is one game better than Utah's, something that everyone seems to forget.

Tonight the Utah Jazz come into Toyota Center for Game 1 of the NBA first round series between the two.

The series will be played as such (ALL TIMES IN CST):

Gm. 1:Sat., April 19: at Houston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Gm. 2:Mon., April 21: at Houston, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)

Gm. 3:Thu., April 24: at Utah, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)

Gm. 4:Sat., April 26: at Utah, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Gm. 5*:Tue., April 29: at Houston (TBD)

Gm. 6*:Fri., May 2: at Utah, (TBD)

Gm. 7*:Sun., May 4: at Houston, (TBD)

* if necessary

For some reason ESPN had the game at 9:30 CST until this morning, and I checked as well and the game is now set for 8:30 CST.

The match ups:

Point Guard:
Bobby Jackson, Aaron Brooks (Rafer Alston in Game 3) vs.
Deron Williams, Ronnie Price, and Jason Hart

Rafer Alston should be the starter here, and as much as he has killed me at times this year, he has impressed me as well. If he would simply stop having mental lapses in games and realize that he is a good, not great, passer, things will fully click. He's out for at least the first two games of the series and should return for Game 3 in Utah. Bobby Jackson will get the starts and probably run the game about 50/50 with Aaron Brooks. Brooks has been tutored well by Jackson and his game is very similar to Jackson's from about 5 years ago. That is a very good thing. Bobby has settled down his penetration as he is getting older, but his shot is still pretty solid and he can drive the lane, and will, when it is there.

Deron Williams is the only PG of consequence here, though Ronnie Price has run the offense well in the few games I've seen while D-Will was on the bench. Jason Hart hasn't been playing lately much and rightfully so. Williams recently hurt his tail bone on when Carmelo hit him hard with a flagrant foul and he hit the court. It did not seem to bother him too much against the Rockets the next game, but he sat out the second half (not reading anything into this) against the Spurs. Here is a list, in order, of the best points in the league: 1. Chris Paul 2. Steve Nash 3. Deron Williams 4. Not one of the Rockets, so you get the point.

Advantage: Utah Huge, but Houston decidedly will win the battle when D-Will is on the bench. Williams averages 37 minutes a game, expect that to go to 39 or 40 in the playoffs. So the Rockets need to take advantage for the 8 or 9 minutes he is sitting.

Shooting Guard:
Tracy McGrady and Luther Head vs.
Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and CJ Miles

Tracy McGrady needs to stop being Tracy and get back to being TMac. The TMac that averaged 30 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in the playoffs before last season took him down to 28.8 PPG. TMac decidedly did not lose playoff games, the teams around him were very sub par or in the case of his first year in Houston, not the better team. That TMac drove the lane, destroyed a player for standing in front of him and did everything he could to win. Last year, and I know it's crazy sounding considering he had 29 points and 13 assists, in game 7 he simply did not take over when it counted. He shot only 4 shots in the entire 4th and played scared. Before that he was dominating. I'd rather have 4th quarter TMac then full game Tracy. Please come back!! Luther Head is the worst entry passer in the NBA, but his shooting can make up for it. As I said in a previous post, unless your name is Tracy McGrady then you should never pass to Chuck Hayes or Dikembe Mutumbo, period.

I must confess that I'm sure exactly how their rotation is run here. Kyle Korver gets a lot of minutes, as does Ronnie Brewer, but I bet both play Small Forward as well. Korver is a deadly shooter that was exactly what the team needed to turn back into the 90s Jazz and play the Hornacek to DWill Stockton and Boozer's Malone. Brewer is one of my favorite young players in the league, and CJ Miles should have gone to Texas and played with DJ, KD and Damion James. Both are good players, with Brewer having the ability to borderline great in about a year or 2. But this year, they are not a match for Tracy OR TMac.

Advantage: Houston, HUGE

Small Forward:
Shane Battier, occasionally Tracy McGrady and very rarely Carl Landry or Luis Scola
Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring

Shane Battier is bar none the defensive player of the year. Just because he does not have crazy eyes like KG does not mean KG is better this year. Yes, KG is a much better overall player, but is not always asked to D someone up. Shane is our go to defender, the guy asked to stop the other teams SG or SF. Unfortunately Shane doesn't have someone on the Jazz that he needs to stop that is a super star. Luckily though, the Jazz rely a lot of their extra scorers and Shane should be able to stop most of Kirilenko, Brewer and Korver's offense. Shane is banged up but it does not appear to be anything serious. The Rockets will get his peak effort this series, no doubt.

Kirilenko and Harpring are guys I love to hate, but every team in the league would love to have them in the fold. They play suffocating defense and are just dirty enough to get under the skin of other players, but not actually be considered dirty players. That's a tough line to tippy toe, but they do it fantastically. Kirilenko is the better scorer, but Harprings offense is underrated.

Advantage: This is a tough one, but I have to with Rockets, but only because when Tracy plays SF this puts it in Houston's favor, though his minutes at the three are way down. Shane is the better overall defender because he plays hard every second of the game, the same cannot be said of Kirilenko as he can have full game lapses where he disappears. Harpring is all out energy, but is not a starter in the league. Kirelenko can be one of the better offensive 3s in the game, but again disappears too much for my liking.

Power Forward
Luis Scola, Carl Landry and Mike Harris (also Chuck Hayes) vs.
Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap

Luis Scola has emerged as a very good power forward. His motor is non-stop and there are only two downfalls to his game. 1. He travels a little too much, though he is called for it repeatedly even when he doesn't actually break the rule and 2. Because his energy level is so high, he picks up 1-2 ticky tack fouls a game and 1-2 phantom fouls because officials inexplicably will call anything on the guy that is more active. Carl Landry has been down a bit as of late, but I fully expect to see him step it up on the large stage that is the playoffs. The pick and roll came back pretty strongly in a few games lately and I expect that to continue. The PF depth on the Rockets is incredible. Even if Luis Landry gets in foul trouble, Chuck Hayes can come in and is one of the few guys in the league that can actually play good defense on Boozer.

Carlos Boozer is a stabber of a blind guy in the back kind of guy. I still firmly believe he has no business being in Utah. Now to get off my soap box, the NBA is a business and that saga is over. Boozer has turned into a very good all around player, though he absolutely can have lapses on the defensive end. His offense more than makes up for that and against the Rockets he rarely misses his high arcing jumper. From reading a few things, it seems that he misses it more against other teams. I'm not sure why that is, but I guess some players just have teams they excel against. I am starting to hate him on Karl Malone type proportions, and that's a really big compliment to his game since he's not a dirty player in any way (like that a-hole Malone inarguably was). Millsap is a good player that plays with energy. He is not, however, even in the same class as Luis Scola, no matter how many Jazz fans try to compare the two. My guess is that some team is going to way overpay him when he becomes a free agent and he'll be another cautionary tale to GMs.

Advantage: Utah, but it's not nearly as big as some people are trying to make it out to be. There is not some huge front court advantage as I repeatedly read about, but there is an advantage.

Mount Mutumbo and Chuck Hayes vs.
Mehmet Okur and Jaron Collins

Mutumbo has tailed off a bit as of late, but really thrives on attention. The playoffs are just the kind of attention grabber he needs to step his game back up. Unfortunately the Jazz don't really have a center, they have a tall guy that plays center like a Small Forward. That means we will see a lot of Chuck Hayes at the 5. Chuck will frustrate Okur on the defensive end, and will frustrate Rockets fans on the offensive end. Not because he's not a relatively competent player on that end, but because Luther Head and Rafer Alston continually give him the ball in the wrong spots.

Mehmet Okur is a good player, he's not nearly as good as the Jazz offense makes him look, but lucky for him, that is the offense that he gets to be a part of. His 7 rebounds a game seem to me to come because other teams forget about him, but that's really a credit to his game. Jaron Collins is awful, plain and simple awful.

Advantage: Jazz I guess? Neither team is inspiring, and just the hole that Yao leaves gives this to the Jazz.

Coaching: Adelman's offense vs. Sloan's offense, but JVGs defense vs. Sloan's "defense". Personally I hate Jerry Sloan and think his offensive is just to out-thug the other team. Adelman's offensive is a thing of beauty, and when the Rockets run it, the efficiency is incredible. This will boil down to how well Adelman can get Tracy to be TMac and how effective the Rockets defense is on the Jazz pick and roll.

Advantage: Adelman, very slightly. Both have gone to the finals twice, but Adelman's offense doesn't call for an illegal "pick and roll" to work (And while it is less so with Boozer and D-Will than it has been in the past, they move a great deal). Adelman also has a .614 winning percentage to Sloan's .603, not to mention a .507 playoff winning percentage to Sloan's .497.

Offense: Next year this will go to the Rockets, this year it is decidedly in Utah's favor. There was an ESPN poll on this and 23.2% said that the Rockets had the better offense. That's just awful, be a homer, but don't be stupid. That leads to the next category:

Defense: In every possible way, and 7 times on Sunday, the Rockets win this. They have the best individual defender in Shane Battier and play better zone and better man to man. It's not close. Yet for some reason, the question on ESPN has had 41.6% of the votes go the way of the Jazz. That is one of the dumbest votes I've ever seen. Even Jerry Sloan would tell you that his team's defense isn't even on the planet as the Rockets defense.

Bench: This should go to the Rockets, but is a lot closer with Yao out and Mutumbo or Chuck Hayes having to start. And I'm assuming Rafer comes back sooner than later. I still believe the Rockets have the advantage.

So given all of that, what does it tell me? It tells me that whichever team wants this more will win, and every advantage helps. The piece that puts it over the top for the Rockets is Home Court Advantage for me.

Rockets in 7, get ready for an epic series!

Let's go Rockets!!!!!

Stay tuned to see exactly what the bet between The Dream Shake and My Utah Jazz is.

Yahoo allows us to break down Rockets/Jazz

Skeets over at Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie NBA blog was once again kind enough to delegate some writing responsibilties over to us. We naturally obliged. Like we're going to turn down the chance to further explain how much we hate the Utah Jazz??? Puh-leeze!

Rockets in 7, bitches.

The full article can be found here.

Yes, I compared the Rockets to Slim-Jims

Matt and Corn over at Hardwood Paroxysm sent out a survey of sorts with fill-in-the-blank answers... seeking responses from all playoff-bound teams. The Rockets, included. Even though they've been killing us over there lately. Ye of little faith and all.

Lee and I submitted answers (separately) to their query.

You can find them here. And flood the comments - let the HP guys know that they are premature in trying to "bury" the 2008 Houston Rockets!

Message from a former champion athlete

Hey, Utah Jazz... the Houston Rockets are ready for you.

"Let's Rock!!!"

Prediction: Houston Rockets in 7.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

ESPN is On Notice

This is just.... wrong.
A double-barreled middle finger to you, ESPN:

You are all On Notice now!

Hollinger picking Utah really hurts... he was the driver of our bandwagon for so long!

State of the Union Address: Houston Rockets

Today, the morning of April 17, 2008, is a good day.

We are officially in Playoff Mode. And the Houston Rockets are prime participants in this glorious adventure of basketball played at its highest level over the next 2 months. And Lee and I got everything we asked for when it comes to the playoffs. Bring on the Utah Jazz. Who I hate. So very, very much.

Game 1 is Saturday.

I therefore present the 2008 State of the Union Address for your Houston Rockets.

The Houston Rockets are a Team. With a capital "T." Yes, we have a future Hall of Fame elite-level superstar in one Mr. Tracy McGrady. Yes, we also had another future Hall of Fame center in Yao Ming (until Tuesday, February 26th). But there is no ego among this group. There is no "I" in this "team"... and if necessary, they would even mis-spell "team" to leave out the "me" just to prove the point.

Need a defensive stop? Battier, Mutombo and Chuck Hayes are on it.

Need an offensive rebound in traffic? Enter Luis Landry (hey! I haven't been able to use "Luis Landry" in a while! It's good to have it back in the vocabulary!)

Need a bucket? Say hello to T-Mac. No, not Tracy. T-Mac.

Need a laugh? The Cookie Monster has that covered. And if you don't laugh, he's going to wag his finger at you.

That said... let's take a look at the pieces that have contributed to the Playoff-Bound-Houston-Rockets. Oh, and we have homecourt advantage again. Suck it, Utah!

Tracy McGrady

It begins and ends with T-Mac. Last year, McGrady said it was "on him" - probably to relieve the pressure that may have been on Rafer and Chuck and Shane and, well, pretty much the whole team. This year? See above about that whole "team" thing. T-Mac needs to facilitate the offense and NOT shoot those transition threes. In fact, no jump shots, Tracy. No. I want to hear nothing but this for the next 4-7 games:

"T-Mac to the rack... and one!"

That's it.

Luis Scola

My new favorite Rocket. Well, other than Yao. Yao is a badass, but he is not walking through that door right now. As I told ESPN yesterday, Luis Scola is the x-factor of this entire series. What we were missing against Utah last year was someone willing to mix it up and not back down to the dirty, dirty Jerry Sloan tactics. Prepare to be undercut, back-picked and flopped to death Houston fans. Luis Scola can fortunately give as well as receive.

Rafer Alston

He's hurt? Good. I didn't want to have to say nice things about him and then jinx the rest of the team because of it.

Moving along.

Shane Battier

The Defensive Player of the Year. And I don't care what anyone says about KG. Shane is DPOY. This series, Shane is going to probably match up with Andrei... who isn't exactly Kobe, LeBron or Carmelo. It's okay though, Shane - you'll get to stop Kobe in two weeks' time. Just be patient!

Dikembe Mutombo

The living, breathing, perfect example of why you ALWAYS have a competent backup center on your roster. Always. Imagine the Rockets with no Yao and no Deke, either!?!? Scary.

Bobby Jackson

He who shall replace Rafer for the next 2-3 games. I was happy when we traded for Bobby J. And I have every bit of faith in him. right now. Daryl Morey is a genius you know - he picks up a vital contributor AND dumps a locker room cancer in Bonzi all at the same time. Brilliant!

Bobby Jackson just needs to stay in front of Deron Williams. Yes, I know... much, much, MUCH easier said than actually done. Bobby can just get in his head and get Deron to go off on the refs, maybe? It worked last time!

Carl Landry

Along with Scola, the missing piece(s) to the puzzle. A year ago, the Rockets started Chuck Hayes and relied heavily on Juwon Howard. Yes, Juwon. Remember him? This year? I think we upgraded massively by getting Scola AND Landry. Landry may not be 100% healthy, but if he's even 90%... and willing to dunk on Boozer's head... well, I'm excited at the mere thought.

Chuck Hayes

A starter last year, and the 7th Man this year. Possibly the strongest man on the team. He can't shoot free throws for his life, but we love the guy. You know he'll do the dirty work and get rebounds. Just do not pass him the ball on the run or in traffic!!!

Mike Harris

Yes, I am listing Harris this high. He could be a HUGE factor for us in this series. The guy is a rebounding machine who has a nose for the ball. He has big hops and, like Landry, just wants to dunk on your head. I hope Ricky is willing to use him more. Granted, he can't shoot very well, but this isn't going to be a "pretty" series... those that want it more will decide who wins. All about the hustle and the dirty work. Or in the case of Utah... dirty plays.

Steve Novak

Yes, our token white guy shooter dude. I dare you to leave him open, Utah. I double dare you.

Aaron Brooks

The rookie blur. Yes, our rookies are better than your rookies, Utah. Brooks might be an even bigger factor than we thought two weeks ago. Rafer is out, and Aaron may be needed to penetrate the Utah defense. Brooks' increased ability to make long-range shots the last month is just an added bonus!

Loren Woods

I do not want to see him enter a game. Ever. Because it means we are down by 20 or more. This is not an option.

Yao Ming

Yeah, how awesome would it be for Yao to walk on the court to start Game 7?


These are your Rockets. Ready for some playoff action.

And Tracy? No. More. Tears.

(cue Ozzy Osbourne.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Dream Shake - going national!

I mentioned it earlier this morning...

but I'm going to be on ESPN radio to discuss the blog, the Rockets and playoff stuff with Steve Mason (and possibly also JA Adande?) in, oh, 45 minutes or so.

I have no idea how it will all work, but it's live - so anything can happen (except me cussing, of course. No need to challenge the FCC today.)

This is bulls--t!!!! listed their award winners for NBA things...

Here's who the panel voted for in the Defensive Player of the Year category:

Kevin Garnett.

Hey, I'm cool with KG. I get it. His team won 65 games. It makes sense. I mean, it's not the correct answer...... Shane Battier is DPOY, but at least I understand the motivation.

What's that? Not a SINGLE person voted for Shane? WTF? And who the hell voted for Josh Smith??? Oh, Scoop Jackson... why am I not surprised? F'n moron. Scoop is a clown.

Kevin Garnett gets 19 votes and Shane gets 0? That's bullshit and you all know it.

The Last Regular Season Hurrah

Tonight is the last regular season game, and almost everything is still up in the air (LA is the 1 and NO is the 2). I'm not going to reinvent the wheel on all of the playoff scenarios, but if you want an excellent read from the best NBA BBS on the planet, check this out at Clutchfans. It's a thread about what happens and gives every scenario possible. In general, and what I want to see happen, if the Rockets win and the Jazz lose, they play each other as the 4/5 seeds with the Rockets having the lower seed and the home court advantage. If the Jazz or the Rockets lose, I don't even want to think about it.

The Clippers come into town and play the Rockets at 7:30PM CST at Toyota tonight. Houston recently destroyed them on the road 105-79 and won the first game against them 88-71. This should not be a close game.

Los Angeles Clippers: 23-58 (10-30 on the road) 2-8 in their last 10

Houston Rockets: 54-27 (30-10 at home) 6-4 in their last 10

This game is HUGE. The Rockets win, and they likely have home court advantage (I just think that Utah isn't winning somewhere they haven't won in 20 years). I'd love to write more, but there isn't much more to say, this is a must win.

Let's go Rockets!!

Yao's Recovery

Dave and I got this from Reebok and thought it would be of interest to everyone out there:

Also, check out Yao's Reebok site here

It's time to start a 17 game winning streak!

Lee will probably have tonight's game preview up this afternoon. Prediction? Rockets win in last game of the year and T-Mac and Scola get lots of time to share jokes with Cookie Monster on the bench in the 4th Quarter. It's the last regular season game of the year.

Oh, the memories we had...I bring this back up not only because it's a picture of two barely-legal Rockets fans (we don't need to resort to such things for attention, do we?), but instead - because the Rockets need to use tonight as the launching pad for ... wait for it ...

A 17 game winning streak!!!!!!

Yes, yes, I know... "you are delusional, dude!" "That's not going to happen!" "You looked like shit against Utah and San Antonio!"

But -- what if it happens? It would be legen....... dary!

I'm just sayin'... there's a chance. Maybe the last few weeks of uninspiring basketball has just been the prelude to a re-charged Rockets team (and fan support). Maybe they have just been playing possum with the rest of the NBA... i.e., no need to let Utah know how we intend to play them when it really matters. Damn I hate the Jazz.

All I know is the playoffs tend to bring out the best in everyone. T-Mac needs a playoff series victory. Battier apparently needs more games to prove he truly is DPOY. Scola needs a championship ring to put next to his Olympic Gold Medal. Rafer needs to keep playing so he doesn't go and assault anyone.

Tonight's opponent may only be the lowly Clippers. But the playoff run begins at 7:30pm tonight! Be ready!

note: Around 4:00pm CST today, I will be on the Steve Mason Show on ESPN radio (station 710 Los Angeles) to chat about the Rockets and the playoffs.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Because Referees Need Visual Aids

Dear NBA referees (particularly referees in Utah):


is what we call a "foul". Yes, "foul." It's pronounced "fa-wuhl" to some.

This is when you blow air into that thing around your neck called a "whistle."

The offending player(s) will then stop, stare at you, and wait for you to tell them they can't hit other players holding the ball anymore. Please be aware that players from Utah might call you dirty names (and your mother, too), but you should be firm in your decision and, if necessary, eject them from the game.

note: ask Steve Javie for help if you need, he's an expert in this "ejection" aspect of the game.

The Houston Rockets - revisiting bad habits

The Houston Rockets' 2007/2008 season really is divided as such.

The 2007 (October through December 31st) Rockets were a team unsure of themselves, prone to turnovers, sloppy defense and a healthy tendency to stand around and wait for Tracy McGrady to do something. With Tracy mirroring that effort and refusing to keep the ball moving. (We did have Yao, and he's a badass, but Tracy was a black-hole for most of December. And don't get me started on the '07 version of Rafer.)

The 2008 Rockets, i.e., the post-January 2nd Rockets, were a completely different animal. And yes, stick with me - I used the term "were" intentionally for the moment. T-Mac got hurt, Yao was getting angry and the proverbial light bulb came on. The Rockets started winning. By the end of January, the Rockets had their shit figured out. 22 times in a row as evidence of that. Tracy had returned to being T-Mac. Rafer sucked slightly less than was expected of him. We found a way to jettison Bonzi and Mike James. Carl Landry was allowed to come out of the locker room and actually play. Scola forced his way into the lineup. It was a beautiful thing.

And why?

Because -- on both ends of the floor -- the Rockets were hustling, moving the ball and making the other team work for everything. We were getting good shots and preventing the bad guys from taking good shots. That's usually the formula for success, and we owned a strangehold on it for over two months.

Now? Now I'm not so sure.

Losses in the past few weeks to Utah, Denver, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Phoenix (the 3/22 game)... not good. As Marv Albert would say, "the Rockets are showing some signs..." -- just not the good kind of signs. No. T-Mac turned back into Tracy, which is to say the unnecessarily contested three-pointer in transition became a staple of our offense again. The ball movement slowed, or wholly disappeared. The defense was there, but we all of a sudden stopped getting all of the loose balls. Dikembe's finger wag only appeared once or twice a week, instead of once or twice a quarter.

I wrote it off as post-Streak blues. It was to be expected, right?

Today? Well, now that the Rockets blew a chance to be the #1 seed, and now can't get any higher than the 5th seed, is definite cause for concern.

I watched about half of last night's game (hey, I have a trial this week - I'm busy!!). But aside from the constant effort put forth by Scola and Battier, the Rockets look burned out. The NBA has a scouting report on Carl Landry now. That and he doesn't seem 100% healthy. McGrady's bad body language is back. He scowls at everything now and has become stand-offish. Not good!! Rafer is sucking again. Luther Head is shooting better, but still can't make a post-entry pass.

(Of course, our rookies are still kicking ass. Rookie wall my ass!)

The problem is that we now face a very strong likelihood of seeing San Antonio or Utah in the 1st round. The same two teams that have destroyed this incarnation of the Rockets recently. And we won't have the homecourt advantage. Utah is only 37-4 at home after last night. San Antonio isn't much worse - at 33-7. The Rockets will probably have to win at least 2 road playoff games to have a chance. Yikes. Two weeks ago, I'd have said "no problem." Today... color me concerned.

I know the Rockets can do it, but they are feeding off Tracy's negative energy right now. Kinda like Ghostbusters II.
So, who ya gonna call? Well, uh, we can't exactly call Yao Ming. Or Hakeem.

We have less than one week to figure this out. Let's get it together, guys!

Monday, April 14, 2008

TMac and Rip Hamilton - There Can Only Be One

I could live with a Rockets/Pistons championship!

The Playoff Schedule

Here is a first look at the schedule for the playoffs. Just an FYI for anyone trying to plan their next few weeks:

My Utah Jazz - The Least Sucky Thing about the Jazz

My Utah Jazz is, yep, you guessed it, a blog about the Utah Jazz. Tonight the Rockets will take on their beloved team and we did a Q&A session with Brock to get a little insight into the Jazz season. Check the site out here and leave a bunch of comments for them telling them how great their site is and how much we don't like their team!

Dream Shake: Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul, personally I take D-Will vs CP3 but CP3 vs everyone else. What make Deron that much better head to head, but a slight step behind the rest of the time?

My Utah Jazz: I don't know how far behind he really is. He has put up great numbers and carried his team to great heights just like CP3. As President of the "Stop the Media's Obsession with Chris Paul Fan Club" I honestly feel the NBA and all it's media outlets chose CP3 as their poster boy the day he was drafted and he will forever be given more attention than D-Will. That's alright though, as Jazz fans, we have a great amount of confidence in D-Will, even more so when he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Not only can he handle CP3, he hasn't done that bad against vets like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. He is good. We just can't seem to get ESPN etc. to take notice.

Dream Shake: I saw a poll on your site a while back about biggest rival and noticed the Rockets were not their. I consider the Jazz our third biggest rival, and back in the day I would have said they were number one. Why such a drop off? Or do the Rockets really not hold any rivalry for Jazz fans?

My Utah Jazz: There is a good history there but I think it dwindled away when Stockton & Malone retired. Not that we haven't had great battles since then but as Jazz fans we tend to pick our rivals based on emotions. What does that mean? Well, we despise the Nuggets and the Lakers. DESPISE THEM. Losing to those teams is about as bad as it gets as a Jazz fan. However, if we have another epic battle between you guys in this years playoffs. I am guessing a rivalry is going to start brewing.

Dream Shake: Who is your pick for the "easiest" first round match up for the Jazz (With no mathematic way for them to take on Denver, Dallas or GS please pick from the top 6)? For the toughest?

My Utah Jazz: Personally, I believe it's N.O. We match up with them well and D-Will wants nothing more than to prove he can take CP3. We have had a lot of success with them in the past couple years and they are one of the top teams every Jazz fan can't wait to meet in the playoffs. I am not saying it will be a breeze, but I am confident we could win in 5-6 games.
The teams that make all Jazz fans curl up in the fetal position are the Lakers and Spurs. Our confidence is building with the Spurs but they still scare us. L.A. has worked us this year, and we want nothing to do with them this year. Does anyone?

Dream Shake: John Stockton or Karl Malone: Which player is most beloved for Utah fans, and no cop outs, you have to pick one? Which one is most hated outside of Utah? Personally, with Malone I don't even have respect for him on the court, with Stockton I at least respect how crafty he was. (I do have a lot of respect for Jazz fans, they have always been pretty classy in my book)

My Utah Jazz: Man, you are putting me on the spot. I know a lot of our My Utah Jazz bloggers have different oppinions on this. But, they don't have the floor so I am going to say Stockton. I had a chance to go to a NCAA Tourney game a couple years ago when it was here in SLC. During a timeout at a Gonzaga game they showed Stockton in the stands sitting with his family. The Utah Crowd stood and cheered for what felt like 20 minutes. He was a hard-nosed player that did not cause a lot of drama. He loved to play and he brought it day in and day out. He and Malone both rarely missed a game and you have to give them both credit for that. Had Karl not left to the Lakers before retiring I may feel differently. Stockton gets a bad wrap though because he wasn't a real community guy. He rarely showed his face while Karl would quite often. However, I was at a Little League Basket Ball even when Karl came to speak. Every little kid wanted to see him dunk the ball but he refused. Thanks Karl. Dunk the damn ball. That alone gives Stockton the edge.

Dream Shake: What's your favorite moment in Jazz history? And I think I'm setting myself up here...

My Utah Jazz: You totally set yourself up Lee. I remember exactly where I was, who I was with, what I was eating, and how bad I had to go to the bathroom. Stockton hitting that shot was the greatest moment in Jazz history. In fact,a few of us My Utah Jazz bloggers were together that day and video taped our reaction. Priceless. It should be a NBA "Where Fans get together and act like little children Happens." Some older Jazz fans may mention other moments but for all of us 20 and 30 something Jazz fans. It was certainly "The Shot" that earns the top spot.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Comments from the gamecast... WTF?

With just under 6 minutes left in the first half of tonight's game against the Denver Nuggets...

it's nice to see Rafer is getting fine-tuned and in playoff shape. Which is to say:


1-6 FG (0-2 on 3s), 2 points, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls and 0 assists.


Rockets vs. Nuggets - Let's Get that 2 seed!

I'd love to write about the Phoenix Suns butt kicking, but apparently, me saying "The Rockets won by 11" meant "I watched the game, please delete if from the DVR" to my wife. Note to all reading this: Be clear about what you say to a pregnant woman. The bottom line is I did not get to watch anything but the last 3 minutes and I only heard the game on the radio after the Rockets went down 13-2 until halftime. So I will take personal credit for the Rockets big lead and big win.

Next up, the Rockets take on the Denver Nuggets at 8PM CST in Denver, CO. A win by the Rockets tonight would do two things: 1. Continue a chance for them to win the 2 seed, have a shot at the 1 seed (albeit a long shot one) and put Golden State back in the driver's seat for the 8 seed. A win for the Nuggets will let them keep the 8 seed as they own the tie breaker with GS.

Denver Nuggets: 48-32 (31-8 at home) 6-4 in their last 10

Houston Rockets: 54-25 (24-15 on the road) 7-3 in their last 10

The Nuggets are a very good home team, owning the fourth best Western Conference home record. I for one think being a high energy team that can deliver on that in the altitude gives them a distinct advantage in Denver. They've lost to New Orleans, Indiana, LA Lakers, Portland, Golden State, Utah, Detroit, and Sacramento, so only 2 of the 8 were to lesser teams, the rest were to teams with winning records.

The last time the Rockets traveled to Denver, they took a 14-10 Nuggets team to the wire, ultimately losing 112-111 in OT. It was a big step for the Rockets, and while I'm not one that is big on moral victories, if their was such a thing, this was it. The Rockets started to roll shortly after, going 42-11 since.

I think this game will come down to two factors:
1. Can the Rockets hold Denver under 100 points
2. Can the Rockets get a lead early and extend it with the reserves

If either of those comes true, the Rockets should win. If both of them come true, the Rockets should win by 10 plus. If neither comes true it could be a long night. This should be win 6 out of 8 in a row to end the season.

Go Rockets!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

No Shane, No Problem!

The Defensive Player of the Year unfortunately had to miss last night's game against the Phoenix Suns...

no problem. Rockets win anyway. As usual.

Suck it, Fat Ass!!

Deke wags his finger at your pathetic efforts to win...

Friday, April 11, 2008

During tonight's game...

Lee and I will both be unable to partake in the festivity tonight that is "making fun of that Fat Ass." Neither of us will be able to watch the game... which is a shame.

Our friends over at Bright Side of the Sun suggested doing a live-blog of tonight's game. But since we can't be there... why not let some of our readers take part? Anyone reading is welcome to join in and discuss the progress of the game -- live! We highly encourage any Shaq/Fat Ass related jokes and the necessary derogatory comments.

And if T-Mac for some reason sits out or continues to make that scowling face when someone bumps his shoulder... all "T-Mac needs some Midol" jokes are also welcome.

Go Rockets! We need that 54th win now that Utah lost (again) last night... homecourt advantage, baby!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Q&A with Bright Side of the Sun

We've added to our series of Q&As with other blog, and we have another fantastic blog participant for you today. Bright Side of the Sun is an extremely insightful and well written blog about, yep, you guessed it, the Phoenix Suns.

Here it is:

Dream Shake: What is it with Phoenix in the last 11 games and the ups and downs? Wins over Houston, Philly, Denver and SA and Losses to Detroit, Boston, Denver and Dallas leave me with no idea what to expect. So what do you expect? Is this finally the year for Phoenix fans to celebrate that elusive title?

Bright Side of the Sun: Your guess is as good as mine.

At this point we could be holding very hot summer parade down Central Ave where cold water is being sold for $10 and about 12,000 fans die of heat stroke waiting Shaq to climb up on a fire truck and The Gorilla melts into a storm drain only to return the following year as the Cloverfield monster.

Or, we could be planning mass Harry Carry - that's where Sun's fans pass the Gorilla in Olympic torch-relay fashion culminating in a ritual disembowelment of said unfortunate ape.

Dream Shake: Shaquille O'Neal: A misunderstood superstar or a Lazy fat punk that is every bit the whiny baby he appears to be right now and just decided to all of the sudden get in shape after he punked the Heat?

Bright Side of the Sun: Yes. Look, you aren't going to find any Shaq love from me.

I hated this trade and I don't really like the guy and his big mouth

But I have to say that I might be eating crow very soon. He's brought a completely different dynamic on both ends of the floor. The guys like Diaw and Amare listen to him and now that his range has increased from zero to 5 feet he has really changed our outlook. At least until next year when we find out what it's like to have a $20m role player miss 35 games.

And besides, is it his fault he came to Phoenix with his ass literally out of shape?
And there's Shawn Marion, a guy who never missed games and went to the Heat and suddenly can't stay healthy. I guess there's something in the water in Miami that isn't good for stars. It might be Lotteryitis maybe Shaq had an early case of that?

Dream Shake: Steve Nash, top 5 point guard of all time? Top 10? Personally I love the guy and he's in my top 10 easily and on a given day he could be in the top 5. What has it been like getting to watch him after ridding yourselves of Stephon Marbury?

Bright Side of the Sun: Stephon who?

Nash is one of the best ever. I am not one for ranking players across eras but it's clear that Steve is right up there. I can't think of another player that took so long to develop into a super star though. He's very unique and an inspiration for a lot of younger players struggling to make it.

Dream Shake: In what century are the Suns doctors in? The 23rd? The 24th? Is it a secret in Phoenix how the doctors do it? I haven't seen much on exactly how they are able to heal Grant Hill, Shaq or STAT, but would love to know how for Yao.

Bright Side of the Sun: Aaron Nelson is my MVP. He's actually quite open about his methods. It has to do with the interconnectivity of the various body parts. The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. Stuff like that. I think gorilla penis might also be involved somehow. Not sure about that.

What I don't really understand is how other teams with so much invested in their players haven't figured it out also. It's almost if some teams want to lose.

Dream Shake: How did the Suns blow getting Horry and Cassell from the Rockets for the old and crusty Charles Barkley?

Bright Side of the Sun: I am not sure what you mean by "blow".

We did manage to unload Chuck before he broke anymore windows with random people's heads.
Horry was around just long enough to get into it with a Suns guard (a foreshadowing if there ever was one) and as for Cassell we don't take well to aliens 'round these parts mister.