The Dream Shake - a Houston Rockets blog: A small note for clarification purposes

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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.


babat said...

Glad that you guys recognize that winning ultimately depends on EVERY one on the team wanting it bad enough...

It's easy to get emotional on this stuff. Heck if I could be visibly upset last night, then any TRUE fan of the Rockets should be. I had to feed myself some psychobabble BS to fall haven't even visited Houston before...why bother about a bunch of millionaire are not even supposed to be a true fan...blah blah blah...just to fall asleep...

I know I may be setting myself up for an another emotional upset but I will still watch and support the guys on Thurs, and Sat, regardless of whether they win or lose.

That, is the curse of a fan!

UofTOrange said...

No doubt, I'll be sitting on my couch, watching both games, hoping they can bring it back here so I can go to game 5

Amaar said...

I bleed rockets red, yet i was so pissed off last night that i traded TMAC in my nba2k8 association for mike fucking conley.

i already saved and i am beginning to regret it.

Scrumtrulescent said...

@ amaar: LOL. You need a night's sleep before making such rash decisions

Anonymous said...

I just log on to your blog to see your stupid ass get so emotional.

I can't wait to read your blog after your overrated Rockets lose games 3 and 4.

It's hilarious to read. I'd be ashamed if I were you, but then again, I don't think crying is becoming.

grungedave said...

You "log on" to my blog? Really? I don't recall putting password protections on here!

And you can be sure I will post before and after Games 3 and 4... and 5 and 6 and 7 if necessary.

I'm not afraid of some anonymous guy critiquing my writing. Even when I'm "emotional" after games.

Fredo Teabaggins said...

Oh, brother. I applaud your die hard Rockets love, my friend. Because only a die hard fan would think Malone tackled Drexler. Replay after replay shows a great screen and Drexler shoving Malone (or trying to) out of the way.

Just as die hard Jazz fans go to their graves thinking Jordan pushed Russell on his last shot in Game 6 of the '98 Finals. Fact is, and you've mentioned this before, it should never get to that point if said team on the losing side takes care of business from the get-go.

The Jazz blew two or three big leads against Chicago in the 1997 and 1998 Finals to put themselves in a shitty spot. Same thing with the Rockets in 1997 (they had a 10 point lead remember, with 2:30 left) and they let John Stockton take over (curse you Sedale!).

While I think the Jazz will win this series, I definitely don't think the Rockets are dead. All it takes is one win.

On the other hand, I can understand the frustration with McGrady. That guy is one excuse after another.

Patrick said...

"If we lose the game because I took those shots, I'm still going to get it (criticism)," he said. "Why do that?"

Wow, I never thought I'd ever praise a Justice column, but I think the man just gave everyone a peek into TMac's psyche. Not sure if he meant it at all.

That quote was in response to Justice asking TMac to be more like Kobe in the fourth quarter and just start shooting shots. I don't mind the answer until he gets to the criticism part.

The point that Justice is trying to make isn't that TMac should just start flinging the ball at the basket from 40 feet every time down, but that he should be looking for shots every time down. Instead, TMac basically says he doesn't because he'll hear criticism. At least if he passes the ball off, we can kind of blame him when he loses, but we can also blame his teammates.

"Why go out and take bad shots?" he asked. "Then you're taking your teammates out, you're losing respect from your teammates. What does that get us?"

I'm pretty sure Michael Jordan or Kobe or Lebron doesn't lose the respect of their teammates when they try to take over games in the 4th quarter. Like TMac, they all make a ton more money that their teammates and are paid to do just that. Getting teammates involved in the first part of the game is great, Jordan was the best at that, but when the clock was running down, he always wanted the ball. Same with Kobe, same with Lebron, same with most superstars.

"They know what they're doing," McGrady said. "If you don't have shooters out on the basketball court, if you don't have other playmakers, you can take one guy out (of his game). It's a pretty smart game plan."

This would make sense if this quote was coming from Kevin Durant on a very bad Sonics team, but the Rockets won 55 games this year and had the 6th best regular season record in the NBA. They got there not only because of their role players, but because a guy like TMac was able to get on a role and make things happen so that other teams couldn't shut down everyone else. McGrady talks of getting others involved, but not only is he not scoring, he's also not getting assists in the 4th quarter. The other night, TMac had 9 assists going into the 4th quarter and ended the game with the same number. If he's so adamant about getting his teammates involved, he's not doing a very good job.

For some reason, I think Tracy has decided that the Rockets didn't have a chance this year once Yao went out. Notice his quotes from the 22-game win streak where he was surprised and couldn't explain the streak. He wasn't being modest, he really couldn't believe it. Last year, with Yao and home-court advantage for the first time in his career, he made a number of quotes that said that he was the one to blame if they lost. He was so sure that they'd win he figured those quotes wouldn't burn him. This year, without Yao, without Rafer, and a younger team that he doesn't believe in, he's trying to pass the buck so that he doesn't get the blame. Passing the ball to his teammates, in his mind, makes it easier after the season to make excuses (teammates weren't as good, the big guy was hurt, the load was too great on my shoulders). The media will defend him for those reasons, some fans will buy off on it, and we can begin the cycle again next year.

The problem is that TMac is making $20 million and is considered one of the top 15 players in the game. As far as talent, other than Lebron and Kobe, there probably is no one that has more. TMac has the ability to take over games, not only through his scoring ability, but through his ability to rebound and get his teammates involved. He reminds me of a poor man's Magic Johnson most of the time and for three quarters Monday night, he played exactly like that. Throw in the fact that we see games like the 13 points in 36 second game against San Antonio, the highlights of dunking on Shawn Bradley, the 22-game winning streak where he puts the team on his back, and the clips on SportsCenter night after night of TMac doing something amazing and we believe that he is as good as Kobe, Lebron, or even Magic.

We forget about the fact that ever since TMac arrived, the Rockets have had a problem closing out games in the fourth quarter, that the Rockets have been to two game 7's that ended in embarrassing defeats, that teams go to single coverage on him in the fourth quarter because they know he won't look for his own shot when the time starts running down. We talk ourselves into the fact that he should be good and that it’s not his fault. We want to believe in him. We want him to get through to that next level.

"If we lose the game because I took those shots, I'm still going to get it (criticism)," he said. "Why do that?"

Because, you're the star. Because, out of every player on the Rockets, you have the ability to take over games when you want to. Because if you start taking those shots, your teammates will be just as open as they were for the previous three quarters. Because, if you win, nobody will criticize you.

Eric said...

Well actually at the end of the question, Justic specifically said, "That'll shut 'em up." That's the reason why T-Mac said something about criticism. But otherwise, his point was that he doesn't want to take bad shot because it shows that he has no confidence in his teammates. T-Mac is the top player on the Rockets, but he ain't no LeBron or Kobe. And don't we already get mad at T-Mac for taking those God-awful jumpers and 3's the whole game?

The problem is that T-Mac overexerts himself just to keep us in the game because no one else is stepping up. Then when we need him the most, the guy is gassed. The games so far have not been blowouts so I know we have the supporting cast to win these games. We just need the other guys to step it up.

grungedave said...

See, this is where I get confused.

Tracy McGrady's job title is "professional athlete." I fail to see how "I got tired" or "I was gassed" ever enters the equation here. Your entire job depends on you having the stamina to finish the game.

That would be like me standing in front of the judge and saying "we're sorry, your Honor, but my fellow associates and I are busy working on other files, so we just didn't feel like reading that important case today."

nbaroundtable said...

Tracy looked wrecked at the end of that game. He couldn't beat Matt Harpring off the dribble. We're not talking any top athlete or defensive player here, we're talking about Matt Harpring. Tracy didn't have any quickness, any explosion left. It wasn't just Harpring either. He couldn't beat Korver or any other Jazz defender in the fourth.

His teammates have to give him more help, they can't win if Tracy has to spend that much energy before they even reach the fourth quarter.

Andy said...

Managing players' stamina is a huge part of the game, though. Not everyone can be Wilt Chamberlain and play every minute of every single game at a world-beating level. They all need varying amounts of rest.

Hell, look at Utah in this series - it's not like Deron Williams or Boozer are kicking the Rockets' asses all-out for four straight quarters. Sloan manages their minutes and their teammates take over at various points so when it's late in the game they've still got the energy to step on the gas and close out the opponent.

andre said...

man i dont understand how ballplayers get tired... they are paid to play for only 48 minutes... on the blacktop we play like 10 games back-to-back-to-back and so on... full court and we are all out of shape

grungedave said...

I could understand getting tired in the 4th quarter against, say, Minnesota, in February, if you had just played the full game the night before...

but to get tired in April? In what might be the biggest game of the season? No adrenaline at all?


Fredo Teabaggins said...

The funny thing is Tracy talks about double and triple teams. Where? I watched one play where he passed and just stood at the top of the three-point line doing nothing. Just standing watching his teammates. He allowed Kirilenko to front him.

The Jazz aren't doing any special defense on McGrady. He's just content on either getting fouled or firing up flat-footed jumpers. The Jazz may collapse on him if he gets in the paint, but come on, the Jazz aren't the best defensive team in the league by a longshot.

Tracy is a puss, plain and simple.

grungedave said...

McGrady got locked down by Kyle Korver in Game 1. Korver!

there were no double-teams.

In Game 2, they ran a few doubles at him, but mostly it was just one player "flashing" to the spot to prevent McGrady from immediately turning the corner. It's not a true double-team.

I can't explain it.

Anonymous said...

That would be like me standing in front of the judge and saying "we're sorry, your Honor, but my fellow associates and I are busy working on other files, so we just didn't feel like reading that important case today."

Funny -- I just have a feeling that you never get in front of a judge -- and probably never will.

And from your sheer emotionalism and nonsensical ramblings, I just don't think you'd be very good in a courtroom.

I want a level-headed and balanced attorney. You don't strike me as having either trait.

I think you missed your calling. What your calling is -- who knows. But I doubt you could do much outside of the mailroom.

Patrick said...

"Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while."

Seriously, stop worrying about who blames who and who doesn't blame who and who gets the credit and who gets the girls. Play the damn game and shut up about this whole blame thing. This is two years running that we have to hear about blame. Who gives a crap?

One rule, you win, nobody criticizes any more. Example #1, Houston Rockets 1993-1994 season. Example #2, Houston Rockets 1994-1995 season.

grungedave said...

anonymous cracks me up. As Chappelle would say: "that's just jealousy!"

and what's wrong with "nonsensical ramblings"? It worked for Johhny Cochran when he used the Chewbacca Defense!