The Dream Shake - a Houston Rockets blog: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A day of praise for those not quite good enough

The NBA All-Star starters were announced over the weekend. Yao and 9 other dudes made the lineup for the East and the West. Meanwhile, T-Mac can make different weekend vacation plans this year.

Sometime today, the rest of the All Star rosters will be announced. No, I do not expect T-Mac to be named as a reserve either. T-Mac even said he doesn't want to be on the team. Because I have to wait another day for the Rockets to play, and the Pacer/Rocket preview will be posted tomorrow when I find the time... today I present who *I* think should be named to the All Star team (and let's just say it's decidedly different than Marc Stein's opinion).

Western Conference

starters: C- Yao, PF - Duncan, SF - Carmelo (??), SG - Kobe, other G - Iverson (he sure as hell isn't a point guard).

This leaves seven more positions to fill, 2 guards, 2 forwards, a center and two "miscellaneous" types to reward those for good behavior who weren't quite good enough to be obvious picks.


Chris Paul
Steve Nash

Anyone who suggests anyone else to be a guard on the Western team is off smoking crack with the aforementioned Mr. Stein. CP3 is having the best statistical season for a PG since Kevin Johnson was rountinely tossing out 20 points and 10 assists a game for Phoenix. And the Hornets would be the #1 seed if the playoffs started. Paul is in. Nash is Nash... even though I don't trust him with his beady eyes and flapping head, he's a two-time MVP who is actually playng better this year than in the MVP seasons. Besides, if I didn't pick Nash, he'd probably charge at me with his hockey stick or whatever weapon he might be carrying.


Dirk Nowitzki
Carlos Boozer

Dirk is obvious. Reigning MVP for a tough Dallas team who is once again one of the best players in the NBA. Easy decision. Boozer is not so easy. I hate rewarding disloyal guys who stab blind men in the front for more money. Plus he went to Duke. Fuck him. And yet... Boozer is playing out of his freakin' mind this year. Double-doubles are overrated, but he's a league leader there. Aw, hell, I hate talking about Jazz players. Moving along. Sorry, T-Mac, I can't pick you either. It would be wrong and shamelessly homer-ific of me.


Chris Kaman

Anyone who says "Marcus Camby" can bite me. For that is the wrong answer. He wouldn't even be in the top 3 choices for reserve center. Amare Stoudemire, Chris Kaman and Tyson Chandler are ALL playing better than Camby. Camby is great at rebounds, blocking shots, and leaving the guy he's guarding open while he tries to block shots. He is not great at scoring points or contributing in other ways. Sorry, that's not all-star worthy to me. My pick is Kaman. The Caveman plays on an injury-riddled team that's missing Elton Brand. So what does the Hogan look-a-like do? He starts playing like Elton freakin' Brand! Much respect. And it allows Yao to crack jokes about how you can't f--kin' stop him all weekend. I can't overlook that.

2 more

Well, I gotta pick two more to fill spots...

Amare Stoudemire
Brandon Roy

Stoudemire plays no defense at all and is generally perceived to be quite the dumbass. But he's exactly what we want to see in an All-Star Game. So, he's in. Brandon Roy has led a very, very young Portland team to a potential playoff run. And he impressed the hell out of me last week during the Rockets victory over them. Sorry, Deron Williams, no way I put two Jazz players on my roster. And Baron Davis? I saw his 6-22 effort on Tuesday... no way he's an All-Star over these other guys. Stephen Jackson? I like you, but no. Manu? Mr. Eva Longoria? Oh, hell no - Timmy made you guys famous, and if I put any other Spur on the roster we all know it would be Robert Horry. Spare me your sob stories!!

Projected MVP? CP3. Or Kobe. One of the two. Kobe is the only guy who takes these games seriously... and CP3 is playing at home.

What's that? You want to know who I'd pick for the Eastern Conference? Uh, other than KG and LeBron, who gives a shit? the Eastern Conference sucks and I only want to know who makes the East roster just to make sure that the Fat Ass does NOT make the team. Even though he's begging and pleading, yet his own coach doesn't fully support him. Shut yo' trap, Shaq. You are not an All Star anymore.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scola is in!

Not only is Luis Scola now a starter for the Rockets...

but he's also been named to the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam "Rookie" team!

(I think the true challenge is just saying the full name of the sponsor for the game.)

Scola seems very excited to be honored in this way...

of course, I don't expect Scola to do much in the game itself other than grab a few rebounds, throw a few elbows and maybe start a skirmish or two. Scoring points? Unlikely - for the odds of Durant actually passing the ball are non-existent.

Oh, and Aaron Brooks got hosed in the selection process.

Notes from the couch

Rockets damn near gave me a heart attack last night. Up 21 at one point... then losing 102-101 with a few minutes left in the game. No one guarding anyone shooting 3s for Golden State. Scary stuff. A few notes though:

1. Yao is a beast. An absolute Godzilla according to Deadspin. 36 points (season high), 19 rebounds (season high), 14-15 from the FT line (see, that's how it's done, T-Mac!). Granted, the 7 turnovers are a concern, but the Warriors were fouling him on every play and the refs let 'em play rough. So be it.

2. Rafer almost had a freakin' triple double. But, of course, he had to take 19 shots to get there. Yao got 19 shots, too. Let's compare... in 19 shots, Rafer scores 17 (on 7-19 shooting, and 2-8 from 3-land). Yao doubles that effort in the same amount of shots taken. Again, why is Rafer shooting 8 times from behind the line? Shane and Novak were hot... yet Rafer kept chucking.

3. Luther Head had 20. And again disappeared in the 4th Q. This is bothersome. Very. At least he made his free throws.

4. Scola is starting now! Yes! Finally!

5. Where was Carl Landry in the 4th Q when we needed defense and inside scoring?

6. Why is everyone slurping Baron Davis on a night when he goes 6-22 from the field? Sorry but he's not an All-Star. Not with all the stud guards in the West (Kobe, CP3, Nash, Iverson, T-Mac, Deron, Mr. Eva Longoria, etc.)

7. Wait a second.... Carl Landry only went 3-6 from the field? When did he start missing shots?!?!! His shooting percentage just dropped like a rock!

8. Novak is great in his 5-10 minute bursts. But then you have to take him back out of the game, Ricky...

9. No T-Mac, no problem. That flu is a killer though.

10. Rockets win! 25-20 now!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We've been saying this for months... and years!!

Hey, Jerome Solomon, I like you. I like your blog on (the only Rockets "news" worth reading on the Chronicle's page). You seem more grounded in reality than Richard Justice.

BUT - stop espousing ideas about how Rafer is "inconsistent" and is the main problem with the Rockets like it is an original idea. Yeah, I saw your post today on Rafer. I wonder if you've seen the hundred or so "Rafer Alston sucks" entries we've made here. And we've been saying he sucks and is the problem for three years now. We just didn't use this blog as the main forum for our complaints until this past November.

Seriously, just click on the "Rafer Alston sucks" tag below and see how we've beaten you to this conclusion many times before today's little diatribe!!

Jordan v. Hakeem - who wins?

So, yesterday I was patrolling the blogosphere as I usually do on Mondays during lunch...

Where I stumbled into an article on The Big Lead about the Lakers/Cavs game from Sunday (i.e. Kobe v. LeBron). In the article, there was a backhanded statement about Michael Jordan being "the greatest winner in the modern era." Which I thought was rather presumptuous.

Naturally, I felt compelled to immediately comment that Robert Horry - and not Michael Jordan - is the greatest winner of the modern era. Last I checked 7 rings is more than 6 rings. Seems like simple math to me.

(Yes it kills me to link to a picture of him in an evil Spurs jersey, but... uhh...)

My comment for some reason started a "Robert Horry? Are you kidding me?" level of response from fellow commenters. To which I said, "hell yes, I am serious!"

I do not dispute that Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player of the modern era. I'm not even sure who else would be in the discussion with him if the modern era is the mid-60s and beyond. But Jordan is NOT the greatest "winner" of the era. Of course, this led some random Bulls fan to post the following comment:

"I point out that if Jordan had not retired twice in the 90’s, the Bulls would have swept that decade."

Yeah, we all know that is b.s. Everyone wants to dilute the awesomeness that is/was the '94 and '95 Houston Rockets back-to-back championship teams. You know, the Heart of a Champion and all that good stuff. Damn I miss Rudy T. Anyway, my counter-argument was this:

"If Kenny Smith could make a f--kin’ jumpshot against Seattle in Game 7 in 1993, the Jordan-era Bulls only two-peat the first time around."

The early to mid-90s Bulls were great, no doubt. But the Rockets were a nightmare matchup for Jordan and Pippen. In 1990/1991 through 1992/1993 (i.e. the first three-peat Bulls teams), the Rockets went 5-1 against Chicago. Yes, Jordan played each game. Mad Max did an admirable job keeping Jordan below his seasonal averages and forcing MJ to take more shots than he normally did. Meanwhile, Pippen (as usual) could not win important games by himself and no one on the Bulls roster could contain Hakeem or Otis Thorpe.

Really, look for yourself:

Game 1 (1991): Rockets 114, Bulls 92
Game 2 (1991): Rockets 100, Bulls 90
Game 3 (1992): Bulls 114, Rockets 100 (dammit!)
Game 4 (1992): Rockets 105, Bulls 102 (Jordan held to 22)
Game 5 (1993): Rockets 110, Bulls 96
Game 6 (1993): Rockets 94, Bulls 83

Rockets were 5-1 versus the intial three-peat era Bulls. And only one of the victories was "close" and could be deemed a toss-up. Like I said, Mad Max could match up with MJ (not "stop" him per se, but just keep him from treating the Rockets like he did LaBradford Smith). Meanwhile, Hakeem would be able to run wild versus the Bulls lack of size and talent in the middle. Then again, NO ONE could stop Hakeem from 1991 through 1995. Or do I need to link to the David Robinson clip again? I think I do.

The problem with the Rockets in the early 1990s was that we matched up *horribly* with the Seattle Supersonics. Gary Payton routinely abused Kenny Smith. Shawn Kemp routinely abused Otis Thorpe, Carl Herrera and whatever other tall body we threw at him. Detlef Schrempf always made clutch shots against us, and so did Derrick McKey. We just had major problems with that one particular team. And yet we somehow extended the series in 1993 to Game 7...

where Kenny Smith somehow failed to remember that his only job was to make open shots. Naturally he missed and sent the game to overtime whereby we'd end up losing. In high school I was asked to write an essay on my "most disappointing moment in life" - Kenny Smith missing that jumpshot was my Moment. I once saw the Jet at a movie theater a few years later and my mom had to prevent me from taunting him about that shot.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the Bulls. If Kenny somehow makes that shot - the Rockets would have made it to the NBA Finals (please... we'd have beaten Barkley and the Suns just like we ended up doing in '94 and '95). Where we'd have matched up perfectly with the Bulls and been able to stop the first three-peat from ever happening.

1992/1993 Houston Rockets roster:

The 1992/1993 Chicago Bulls roster:

Starting lineups of G: Kenny Smith, G: Mad Max, F: Robert Horry, F: Otis Thorpe, C: Hakeem Olajuwon v. G: BJ Armstrong, G: Michael Jordan, F: Scottie Pippen, F: Horace Grant, C: Bill Cartwright.

It would be an epic matchup. I've already explained how Mad Max would check MJ. Kenny Smith and BJ Armstrong is a wash. Horry scored enough and was athletic enough to stay with Pippen (though Pippen would likely outscore him a little, and out-jackass him by a lot). Otis Thorpe and Horace Grant were basically the same player. And no one could stop Hakeem. Who, oh by the way, SHOULD have been the MVP in 1993. Check the stats.

The only true empirical evidence we have proves that the Rockets were a nightmare matchup for the Chicago Bulls. A 5-1 record with only one close game. The only thing going for the Bulls would be that Sam Cassell would not arrive in Houston until the 1993/1994 season. That's why Jordan retired. He knew the run was inevitably over!

I still can't believe that's been 15 years ago. Wow.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Major Mistakes and How You Correct Them

A few days back I did the midseason awards article and I meant to have some predictions in it. I didn't, and I haven't forgiven myself yet. I even ran stairs today to punish myself. Without further ado I present to you:

The Dream Shake How the Rockets Will Finish the Season Prediction Chart

That's right, you read it here first, I'm predicting a 10 game winning streak. I even went with the old school Red and Yellow because this is the type of run the mid 90s Rockets would go on.
Interestingly, Dave and I had different ways of getting there, but we both see something pretty close to the same.
Now go out and prove me right gentlemen and Rafer.

I'll take a few please

I'm still ignoring last nights frustrating game for the most part, but I might find less anger later and post about it.

A few things were apparent last night. Yao has to be the focal point of the offense and when he is, the rest of the guys have less room for stupid shots.

So, I was checking out TrueHoop this morning and it contained a link to a Washington Times Article.

In it was this excerpt:

In addition to a rigorous offseason training program, Wizards forward Caron Butler attributed his career-high 21.5 points and .481 shooting percentage to the work of shooting coach Dave Hopla, who joined Washington's coaching staff this season.
One of the elements of Hopla's expertise is shot charting, which is new to Butler and his teammates. It allows a player to see the spots on the floor from which he's shooting well — or poorly.
"It lets me know what I need to work on," Butler said. "And with the percentage now, I know from the floor, I'm shooting like 80 [percent] from 16 on in. It gives me confidence. I can come to a spot on the floor and know it's a good shot. I can be like 'Coach, I'm shooting 80! It was a good shot!' "

To which I have to say:

Deja Vu all over again

... and not in the good way.

I could have sworn that last night's Rockets/Jazz game was a video replay of Game 7 from last May. All the same symptoms were present... Boozer and Deron Williams making tough shots in 4th Q, Yao not being a factor, Rocket D leaving the token white guy shooter open for Utah. And - most importantly - T-Mac shooting us out of the game, pussing out again, and not making any attempt to take the ball to the basket and draw contact/fouls.

Then I was horrified when I recognized new players who weren't on the team last year. But there was T-Mac, making the exact same mistakes again.

It's been 8 months, T-Mac. Have you learned NOTHING?

(I went to ESPN looking for photos of T-Mac from yesterday... there aren't any. Probably because he was shooting from 28 feet away the whole game and not in range of the cameramen.)

Tracy, why are you shooting SEVEN (7) threes in any game? Especially when you only made one?

Oh, and Rafer, you sucked again, too. 4-13 FG (0-4 from 3, nice!), again taking time away from Aaron Brooks. Ugh.

God, I hate the Utah Jazz. This will not make for a good Monday morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Marc Stein, what are you smoking?

I just read the Weekend Edition of ESPN's Daily Dime while watching the Rockets versus the Salt Lakers (I just can't call them the Jazz anymore). Here's what Marc Stein had to say about the West Reserves after picking Camby as his reserve:

"But I still say Camby has had the best first half of any center in the West. He has had more all-around impact on his team, even, than Yao in Houston."

Say what now? Marcus Camby? Really? That is insane. Camby is an extremely competent NBA player and one of the best defensive players in the league. But here are the stats this season so far:I know stats aren't everything, but this is pretty telling. Yao has been the entire team for a good stretch of this season, a pretty solid stretch for the Rockets at that. He's a better shooter by 5% and actually has to carry the load for the team getting double and at times triple teamed. He also shoots 17% better from the line. On top of that offense he averages 13 more points per game. All these stats don't even take into effect a simple fact, Camby is the third player on his team, a team that includes two All Stars in Melo and The Answer. The next time they expect him to score at all will be their first.
Here's the biggest point of all this "all around impact" horseshit, Camby's ONLY job is to play defense and rebound, it's impossible for him to ever have a better "all around impact" on anything because his game isn't rounded at all. And in case you were wondering, he only gets 3.7 more rebounds including .1 better on the offensive glass where he has no responsibility but to rebound. And his blocks are 1.7 more a game. Can anyone imagine how big of a beast Yao would be at blocking shots if players weren't allowed to charge into him like they are not allowed to do to Camby?
Just as an aside, this year the Nuggets are have had approximately 102 possessions a game to the Rockets
97 possessions a game. Those 5 extra possessions could make up some of the slack for Yao on the rebounds as well.
I cannot imagine any logical person stating any center not named Dwight Howard has even had a season close to Yao, much less better. And while I can imagine it, those that would say Howard can say it, but they'd be wrong. In summary, you're opinion is not on point here Marc.

Yao Out

I've been away from the computer for pretty much the whole day helping my sister and brother in law move in to their house, I come home and my reward for good deeds is Yao being out for the Jazz??

He has an upper respiritory infection. This is uncool: ESPN Story

10 Things I Hate About You (Utah Jazz)

In light of Heath Ledger's surprising death this week...

Hey, FU - it is a really good movie. Anyway, here are 10 Things I Hate about the Utah Jazz:

1. Jerry Sloan.
Seriously, does anyone really like this guy? He's a complete bully. His players respect him only because he does know a lot about basketball, but there has to be a better way to get the message across. He constantly berates his own players, the referees, and even the fans. He encourages his players to flop and play dirty. He is homophobic and vengeful. I'm actually glad he's never won NBA Coach of the Year. Fuck him and the tractor he rode in on.

2. Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Yes, I threw a party the day Karl Malone retired. I admit it.

These two fuckers made me hate basketball for a long time. Hakeem, Otis, Horry and Clyde constantly had to deal with their dirty tactics and flopping. Karl Malone was the worst. He was a 6'9", 260 lb. power forward who would fall down, flail his arms and whine whenever a 6' tall, 180 lb. guard had the audacity to touch him. Pussy. Ask Isiah Thomas. Malone is a coward and a wuss.

Stockton gets a little more respect, but he was still pretty much everything that was wrong with basketball in the 90s. He had no problems throwing elbows, stepping on your feet... anything to get a slight advantage. If you tried his own tactics on him, he'd act like he got shot, fall down and bait dumbass referees into calling an offensive foul. Sam Cassell was dragged down by his jersey in the playoffs - but Stockton undercut him and got the foul called on Cassell. What a hypocrite. Damn I hate the Jazz.

3. Larry Miller.

Yeah, the owner. F him, too. He's always got a problem with something. And I can't overlook the Heath Ledger/Brokeback Mountain/Miller refusing to let it play in his theater issue, either. He was the enabler for Sloan, Malone and Stockton. And now he encourages dudes to stab blind men in the front for money. Speaking of...

4. Carlos Boozer.

If this were a college basketball blog, there'd be a few "I hate Duke, too" posts, but it is not. I can still hate Duke alums (you're cool though, Battier). Boozer, however deserves whatever bad things karma has waiting for him. Cleveland drafts you in the second round, they WANT to help you out and pay you more - even though they didn't have to. So what do you do? You agree to a contract verbally... then turn around and sign with Utah when Cleveland lets you out of your rookie deal. You, Boozer, are an asshole of the first degree. And you are one of the few things that make me regret having HDTV. You are one ugly mofo.

5. Game 7, May 2007.

This is more of a Tracy McGrady issue... but it also fed my continued hatred of Utah. Dammit Tracy, why couldn't you at least attempt a layup!?!?!

6. Shandon Anderson.

Ugh... 10 years later and you still annoy the piss out of me. You make a name for yourself by playing typical Utah Jazz basketball. Cheap, dirty and unncessarily physical. The worst part is that the Rockets had to sign you later just to avoid having to play against you. Which only served to backfire against us because you actually were never any good.

7. Game 6, June 1997.

Of course, what you don't see in this video is Malone tackling Drexler as he tries to guard Stockton. Naturally, the referees are asleep. Way to lose to the Bulls in the Finals though. Good job, Utah.

8. New Year's Eve parties.

I see this on Deadspin... Seems like a pretty fun party, huh? Exactly. The Jazz even find ways to fuck up what should be a totally kick-ass NYE party! The players actually got embarrassed by these pictures and made public statements that the party was tame and that family members, wives and kids were at this event... so very, very lame. You probably served punch and pie instead of alcohol, too, huh?

Yes, Kirilenko did not hook up with the girl in the photo. Even though he gets one free pass from his wife a year. Weak.

9. Your freakin' name.

The "Utah Jazz" were originally the New Orleans Jazz. Which makes sense. New Orleans... music... mardi gras... jazz. Seems like a good time. Then they move to Utah. And somehow *keep the same name*!?!?? There is no jazz in Utah. Your city is freakin' boring. I guess you just didn't have the creativity enough to come up with an original name. God your team and your city is lame.

10. Karl Malone.

I hate him so much he gets two mentions. Fuck you, Karl Malone.

Jimmy Kimmel's "Karl Malone" is probably smarter than the real one. Have fun hunting little mexican girls you oversized redneck.

Rockets v. Jazz - today at 6pm. Go Rockets!

I so very much hate the Utah Jazz

It's been well documented here just how much I hate the Jazz. From their name to their past players to their coach to their arena even. My problem today? Past Carlos Boozer stabbing a blind man in the front, CJ Miles fucking over my Longhorns and Jerry Sloan I have absolutely no reason to dislike any current member of the Jazz. Deron Williams is the third best point guard in the league right now behind Paul and Nash (and yes in that order, no knock on Nash, who is a bad, bad man, I just think CP3 is better now). I don't even hate Boozer because I'm positive there is more to his story than got out. Ronnie Brewer is a dirty Razorback, but he's also a damn good dirty Razorback. AK47 is a player I would take every single second of every day on my team. Okay, I forgot about Okur, I do actually hate that guy. This, on the whole, is extremely disconcerting for me. So you know what I decided? Fuck it, I still hate the Jazz.

Utah has been an extremely poor match-up for the Rockets on defense in the last few years. There was no one that could guard Boozer, and it's unfair to ask Yao to do it. And it's idiotic to say that since Yao can't guard him that he is a poor defender. Yao is a 7'6 center, he's not supposed to guard a power forward, he's supposed to guard a center. The Jazz don't happen to have anyone for Yao to guard. I'm interested to see how much of a zone we run tonight and how much Yao guards Okur away from the basket. If he does, that leaves Scola and Landry to guard Boozer. Those two guys have been playing some pretty damn good defense as of late and are the reason I caveatted us matching up poorly in the last few years. I want to see what happens with him tonight. And I will say anything under 21 points is a successful guarding of him. We also have no one to guard Deron Williams. He's too fast for any of our guards but Aaron Brooks and he's way too strong for Brooks. I'd like to see us put Shane on him, but I have no idea who guards Ronnie Brewer or AK47 in that scenario.

On the flip side there is no one that can guard Yao or Tracy on the Jazz, no one. Boozer gets used even worse by Yao than Yao does by him. Again though, it is completely unfair to ask Boozer to guard Yao and wisely they don't try it too much. Unfortunately for them Okur has no business being on the same court as Yao. I guess Kirilenko has had extended stretches of "good" defense against TMac, but that was really more due to Tracy deciding he wanted to be a pussy and not drive on him. If Tracy drove every time down the court against the Jazz he would drop 60 on them. Sadly he may be deathly injured too if his injury history of late continues.

So where does this leave us? In a high scoring affair this evening at 6:00PM CST. One I think will be extremely entertaining.

Boozer's Hammy who lives in Afghanistan and works in accounting did a good review of what's upcoming for the Jazz in the second half : Here

And C.B. jack did a thorough mid-season review of the Jazz: Here

Both guys among like 50 other bloggers do a good job over at My Utah Jazz, though with that many bloggers shouldn't it have been "Our Utah Jazz"?

Let's Go Rockets, time to kick a new tune the Jazz way.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rookies Unite! And Refs suck

Dave did a pretty good recap of the game, but I wanted to give some props to all three of our rookies. Each was huge reason for the win last night. I'm enjoying how Coach is playing whoever has the hot hand/ sitting whoever is obviously sucking late in the game.

I want to take some time out to say this: NBA referees suck complete ass. These guys last night made mistakes that I wouldn't have allowed from my Intramural Referees I taught in college. Falling for obvious flops? Check. Making calls you did not see just because "something happened"? Check. If all else fails and you don't know who did it call the foul on the the active and/or youngest guy? Check. If the shot doesn't go in, it had to be a foul right? Check. If a guy makes a move you don't believe is possible even if everything is done right you have to call traveling? Check.

Yao had 5 fouls called on him last night, no reasonable person could look at the replay (or live for that matter on TV) and have said 4 of the called fouls were actual fouls. Two of the calls were so bad that Yao had to be pulled from the game to get him to stop yelling at the referees. Yes, Yao yelled at the refs last night, that's how poor a job they did.

And before someone tries to call me out for sour grapes, the guys last night sucked for both teams, there were some horrendous calls called against both teams. There were more called against the Rockets, but there were plenty of times I saw bad calls against the Trailblazers. I guarantee there are some Trailblazers fans out there saying they got fucked. So all this added up to me having to figure out what is going on and here is what I found on, a breakdown of how the guys did against the spread and how home teams and away teams fared under their watch.
So the first two guys were extremely in favor of the home team. Combined the games they have refereed this year have gone 41-17 in favor of the home team. The home team also finished 36-21-1 against the spread. And they are just a little in favor of the spread, the home teams' average margin of victory is 7.5 points. So this explains why there is a decent amount of favor towards the home team in these guys' cases.

So here's why there were a lot of shitty calls on the Trailblazers as well. Forte is decidedly against the home team, 6-12 against the spread and 8-10 overall Win/Loss record for the home team. Somehow that actually works out in favor of the home team a little bit in the average scoring margin.

What's my conclusion here? NBA referees either need rules changed that will help them call the game or need some more training. Of course with shitty referees like Bennett Salvatore out there I'm not sure who is going to train them. So what rules would help?

1. Get rid of the insanely idiotic circle, it helps no one and makes referees have to call something incorrectly just because there is a line on the ground. I cannot count how many times a referee has been about to call a correct charge call and then have to call a block because they looked down and saw a guy who played defense perfectly inside the line. And, since the whistle was blown they had to call something. Get rid of it.

2. Get rid of defensive three seconds. That is not basketball, that is made up bullshit. Either allow the zone or don't allow the zone. All defensive three seconds does is make the referee look for yet another thing when they should be watching the action of the actual game. Plus if someone wants to stand in the middle they are being dumb, there is no advantage to it past being able to move a little less.

3. Rid the game of flopping. There are two ways to do this. A. Whoever initiates the contact is the fouler, that's about as basic as it gets B. After each and every game the league needs to fine players, even to the level of suspension to eliminate flops. That will keep guys on their feet, and it will help protect the players because bodies won't be flying in the same way. How will the NBA know if a guy flopped? Common sense, it's all there in the video and the body language, they just need to use their judgement.

There is absolutely no reason why these rules changes can't be made going into next season. I will be writing a letter to the NBA offices before the season is up. How much good will it do? Probably none, but I won't know until I give it a shot.

Any other rules that anyone else wants fixed?

Other things, I just read BlazersEdge for the first time. Fantastic job covering the game, I'm impressed.

Rookies Rock Rip-City!

I like alliteration. I like winning, too. Which made last night's game completely kick ass.

Rockets down 50-42 at the half. Rockets decide enough is enough (that means you and your turnovers, Rafer) and hold Portland to all of 29 points in the second half. Behind Carl Landry, Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks, the Rockets lock down Brandon Roy and the Trailblazers and win 89-79.

Yao Ming got five bullshit fouls called on him... but fortunately his fourth Q services were not needed this time.

Lee and I will probably tackle the "how shitty are NBA refs" issue sometime this week - as that is four games in a row where phantom fouls almost hurt the Rockets (specifically Yao and Landry). Hell, Luis Scola got tackled on a rebound when he had position -- and they called a foul on HIM!

Back to the game... Bill and Air Bullard named Landry and Scola "players of the game" and rightly so. When they are players of the game, the Rockets are undefeated. When Rafer is player of the game, the Rockets are like 2-15, i.e., completely fucked.

Best part of last night's game? The fact that it seems that Ricky read everything I wrote the last two weeks and took every single piece of my advice. Really:

1. Use Luis Scola. And play him more. Check!
2. Bench Chuck Hayes and play Carl Landry a whole lot more. Check and check!
3. Stop playing Rafer Alston (pretty much every post I've ever written, but........). Check!

Rafer had another beauty of a game last night. 3 of 8 from the field, 9 points, 1 assist and a whopping 5 turnovers (including 4 turnovers in 6 possessions in the third quarter - impressive!). Enter Aaron Brooks - and the Rockets quickly took control of the game.

Likely 3rd Q conversation

Ricky: Hey, Rafer...
Rafer: Yo, coach, I told you to call me "Skip" -- but what's up?
Ricky: Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up!
Aaron Brooks: pwn3d, bitch!
The way the Rockets just shut down Portland reminded me very, very much of last year's team. The non-Game 7 collapsing version I mean. And also using three rookies in crunch-time. I was highly, highly impressed [and pumping my fist after nearly every play, instead of throwing things at my TV for once]. It's like JVG came back and gave a pre-game pep talk!

Hell, even Richard Justice took time away from slurping Bud Selig and giving Brett Favre the reach-around to congratulate the Rockets and the rooks.

All in all, it was quite the enjoyable Friday night in front of the TV!

Go Rockets! 24-19! First Western Conference team to win in Portland this year!

Friday, January 25, 2008

What is the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah - "idiot"!!

Anna-Megan Raley has now turned her attention to the Rockets.

God help us.

Today's gems:

"The Rockets have won three in a row. With Tracy McGrady back for the last three games, it seems the Rockets have found their way. With a pair of wins over Seattle and a victory at home over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, it seems as if the Rockets have their act together again."

Ummmmm... McGrady is clearly still hobbling; Seattle is possibly the worst team in the NBA and the Spurs don't pay too much attention to regular season games in January. I fail to see how this is evidence that the "Rockets have their act together again" - clearly Ms. Raley has not watched Rafer or Luther play lately. And she must have fallen asleep watching American Idol during the Hornets and Sixers games.

"The Rockets are 23-19, a winning record, of course, but they play in the best division in the best conference in the NBA."

23-19 is a winning record? Holy shit - I had no idea!

"They are fourth in the Southwest Division, and they've got to make up a lot of ground."

Please tell me she doesn't actually think our goal is still to win the Southwest Division. We are not leap-frogging Dallas, San Antonio or the Chris Pauls. It's time to re-adjust our level of expectations. Insert Jim Mora rant here.

"The Rockets play 10 games before the All Star break. They will face only five teams with losing records. Three of those games are on the road."

My favorite. Let's think about this logically - if we play 10 games, the odds would dictate that half would be against winning teams and the other half would be against losing teams, right? Oh, and yes, I should point out for Anna-Megan's benefit that in this instance, "half" equals "5". So, this isn't exactly a statistical anomaly. Granted we do get 7 games at home, but we were on the road for what seems like all of 2007. Law of averages and shit. I bet she'd be surprised to learn that when the season is over, exactly 41 of our games will have been at the House that Hakeem Built.

"Despite the rough spots and Adleman's disappointment over the inconsistency, here's what I'd like to know: Do you think the Rockets will make the playoffs, and if you do, do you think they'll advance beyond the first round?"

Uhhhh, I think Ricky has a reason to be disappointed. The team is about 15 games behind the expected pace! Yes, the Rockets will make the playoffs, but at best the 6th or 7th seed. Which would NOT make us a favorite to advance beyond the first round. That would practically make us roadkill! Unless we get moved to the Eastern Conference. What kills me in this "report" is that at no time is it mentioned that if the playoffs started today, WE WOULD NOT BE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!! So, uh, yeah, there's reason for concern!

Rockets v. Trailblazers* tonight. Go Rockets!

* note: if the playoffs did start today, the Blazers would be in the playoffs. You're welcome, Anna-Megan.

Turnovers suck

Luckily the team hasn't had too many as of late. I was reading a Feigen breakdown of the last few games lower turnover rate and saw this:

"In that stretch, I had games of four, five, six turnovers," guard Rafer Alston said. "After the Philly game, I know I made a concerted effort to not turn the ball over and be sure and strong with the ball. I noticed that my turnovers and the team's are down significantly in the past few games."
Rafer apparently hadn't noticed before that he was turning the ball over. Why in the Philly game did you need to have 6 turnovers and 9 as a team in the fourth quarter to know you were turning the ball over too much? Wouldn't the first 2-3 have been a good indication? Why do you need six? The four and then the five in the two prior games weren't bad enough to show you either? Six is the magic number? Really?
Man, I really tried to like you when you first got here, but shit like this keeps you permanently on my "I hate you as a player" list.

The Rock vs. The Trail

Tonight at 9:00PM CST the Rockets take on the Portland Trailblazers. And yes, I refuse to call them "Blazers" because Trailblazers is much more bad ass. The good guys beat the men in black and red 89-80 on November 3rd. We have won 12 of the last 16 meetings with 5 of the last 8 being on the road.

Portland has been extremely streaky this year up until the last 7 games. Here's a quick breakdown:
3 Losses - 4 Wins - 5 Losses - 1 Win - 4 Losses - 14 Wins - 1 Loss - 4 Wins

After that they have gone LWLWLWL in the last seven. That entire 3-4 stretch was on the road. Not a good trend going into their game with the Rockets as they are due for a win and are 17-3 this season at home. Those three losses came at the hands of New Jersey, Orlando and Indiana. Two bad teams and one pretty good but young team from the East (The Magic is who I'm talking about in case you haven't watched any basketball this year). So they haven't lost once at home to a West team. Oh, and they've managed to beat New Orleans (twice), Dallas, Golden State (twice), Utah (twice), and Denver so it's not like they haven't played anybody. One more point: They haven't lost at home since November 28th, also known as 2 months ago when they were 5-10. It all adds up to a 25-17 record, and the current 7/8 playoff seed, 2 games above the Rockets.

The Rockets have been on a pretty good run themselves lately, 11-5 in their last 16, and a current three game winning streak. On the road we've been a semi-respectable 6-4 , with 4 wins in a row.

What's my prediction for the game? I honestly don't have one, the Trailblazers could be hitting a wall and the Rockets could be coming in at just the right time. They also could be happy to be home and show it on the court. Team vs. Team I think the Rockets have the more complete package today, though in 2 years the Trailblazers have the talent to be the best team in the West. With a team average of 23.9 years of age the future is bright in Portland. Let it be noted that Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Channing Frye, Greg Oden, and Martell Webster all only have 2 years left on their contracts after this year. They will need to do something to keep those guys together and it remains to be seen if that is possible.

One good piece of information is that Raef LaFrentz at 12MM a year comes off the books at the same time as the others become restricted free/free agents. Seriously though, WTF was Dallas thinking when they gave him 7 years, $70MM? The NBA is luckily not as stupid with money anymore, but damn, that was dumb. He was averaging 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds the previous year, why oh why would you sign that contract??? That's dumb on the level of parachuting without a parachute.

So, let's go Rockets, time to kick a little 23.9 year old ass!! Oh, and make up some ground on the playoffs while we're at it

An All-Star photo essay

The end.

The Best in the League!

Congratulations to Yao Ming for his sixth consecutive All Star game start this year. That's one start for every season in the league. He's the best center in the league in my eyes, and if everyone else would open theirs he would be the best in their eyes as well.

Tracy was narrowly edged out by AI, who is much more deserving this year than TMac, but about 50% as deserving as Chris Paul was. If the NBA was going to stack the ballot box for Tracy to get his wish of not playing (and I honestly 100% believe they did), why not do it with Chris Paul? I know he was further behind Tracy, but come on, you could have made an easy argument him or Nash before you did Iverson.

Congrats again to Yao, keep kicking ass big man!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where's Waldo, um, I mean Bonzi?

Missing: Bonzi Wells, 31 y/o, 6 ft. 5 in. tall, approx. 210 lbs. (ed. - yeah, right!)

Bonzi was supposedly in the starting lineup last night for Houston - but I didn't see him. In fact, I haven't seen him since the first Memphis game in Houston (all the way back in December!). Here is the last known photograph of Mr. Wells:

From the look of it, maybe he's trying to hide? Because he's certainly not scoring points or playing any defense. Which (surprisingly) we could have used last night against the Durants. The box score says Bonzi played 19 minutes, shot 2-8 from the field for 4 points and had a solitary rebound to bookend his 2 turnovers. Yes, and he was starting in place of T-Mac.

Time to re-adjust the rotation again, Ricky. I'm okay with T-Mac off the bench. Even T-Mac seems okay with it. Bonzi is not the answer to fill-in though. Hell, even Luther Head has been more productive as a starter. Bonzi has not been 1/2 the player he was supposed to be when the Rockets signed him last year. Sure, he and JVG had their issues and I figured he'd get his shit together with Ricky as his coach. Nope. I was wrong.

Scola, Brooks and Landry are showing hustle and determination - Bonzi is at the other end of the spectrum. He and Rafer appear to be feeding off each other's mediocrity. This is not good.

With the Rockets needing to finish the season on a .750 win pace, we cannot allow Bonzi's lethargic play and attitude permeate the roster. There are too many players who have earned the right to play instead of him. (Even Rafer.) Sit Bonzi over by Stevie and Mike James. Ricky -- it's the only thing to do.

In the meantime, Bennett Salvatore -- you are now on notice, too! The Rockets pulled off a dramatic 109-107 comeback last night. Salvatore did everything he could to prevent it though. Two b.s. calls on Carl Landry - the last one on a "loose ball" rebound where Kurt Thomas got tired and just fell down. The Rockets should have had possession. Instead the dirty Horned Frog is shooting 2 free throws. T-Mac and Rafer had to make crazy dramatic 3s to overcome the referees last night. Even Bill Worrell and Air Bullard were on Salvatore's case last night.

Rockets: 23-19. Up next - at Portland on Friday. Brandon Roy? Meet Shane Battier.

Am I excited or just relieved?

I still don't know what happened last night. The Rockets didn't play bad at all, they just didn't play very well. The Sonics just could not miss until the last 5 minutes of the game. The Rockets weathered the storm and came out victorious.

Yao kept the game from becoming a blow-out with another "Yao Game", also known as 25+ points and 8+ rebounds. He finished the game at 26 and 12 with 6 assists and 1 block. Just another all around solid game. It's amazing to me that there are still people out there that do not recognize Yao's greatness. He does this EVERY NIGHT, this season he has only not scored 20 on 9 occasions and on 3 of those he had 18,19,19, so his scoring is there pretty much every game. He's had 8+ Rebounds 34 times this season, he is nothing if not consistent.

Just for fun:

You look at those stats and say: Player A and B are pretty damn close, right? In fact, this season, Player A is having arguably a better one than Player B, right? Player A is obviously Yao, Player B is Tim Duncan. Don't get me wrong, the Big Fundamental is inarguably, fuck Karl Malone, the greatest PF of all time. Honestly, it's not close. That said, Yao is great too, people need to realize this. Just think, he's 27, he's just now STARTING his prime.

Edit: (Just saw something similar over at Clutchfans, I've been wanting to work it in since the SA game, but didn't want someone to not get credit for a good idea)

Okay, enough about Yao, let's talk about TMac. I'd like to say that more players should say they want to grow up to be Tracy like KD did. Then maybe he'd play like his old self every time. He was really spectacular at the end of the game. 13-23 for 28 points and seemingly every one in the 4th quarter. He also managed 4 rebounds including a huge offensive one and 5 assists. I missed you old Tracy McGrady from your first year with the Rockets, I missed you. Now, please, I beg of you, stick around for the rest of the season! I'm going to ignore the 2 missed free throws at the end that almost cost us the game.

I also have to say, Rafer played like he was when TMac was out, and that is a very good thing, he shot WAY too much, but some of that was out of necessity since no one else early in the game, except Yao,was moving at all. His 8 assists were all pretty decent and he has ZERO turnovers. Good game all around Rafer, good game.

Last but not least I have to talk about Carl Landry. He played his ass off last night and cemented the fact that the Chuck Waggon should not be playing any more. What once was a black hole on the team, power forward, is now a plethora of awesome. Luis and Carl, welcome to the big time. Landry was everywhere, his athleticism is exactly what this team needs to compliment Luis's all out hustle. In 15 minutes he was 4-4 for 8 points, and had 2 rebounds. He also got 2 absolutely incorrect foul calls in that time and fouled out. He was so pissed off that he almost cried on the sidelines. And unlike Adam Morrison the game was over for him when he almost cried. That's some bad ass passion, it actually made me more impressed with him.

So that's a third win in a row for the Rockets and 8-2 in their last 10. Next up: Friday at 9:00PM CST - The Portland Trailblazers, one of the hottest teams in the league. I'll have a preview up today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A communications barrier!

Okay, this is not Rockets related... but it is too damn funny not to pass along to anyone who hasn't seen it already.

Zaza Pachulia suspended

It's funnier to me because I could imagine Yao having a similar conversation with Rudy T back in 2002. Only with Rudy T drinking a bit while he's coaching...

(oh, and a thanks to Hardwood Paroxysm for directing us to this comedic masterpiece. )

Is the glass half empty or half full?

The Rockets back their way into the mid-point of the season at 22-19.

If we continue this pace of mediocrity, we'd finish the season 44-38, and we'd miss out on the playoffs entirely. I refuse to accept that this is a possibility. Sure, we're not going to make Hollinger look like Nostradamus - we're not winning 60 games. Not even the Celtics went on a 38-3 spree this year.

Good news?

1. McGrady is back. (Okay, I can only hope this is good news)
2. We can't really get any worse, and our schedule is more favorable in the 2nd half.
3. We still have that 7'5" dude in the middle. Someone must get that memo to Rafer and Luther though.

The Bad News?

1. We're in 10th place in the West. We can't exactly expect any of these teams to backslide.
2. We're still in a division with San Antonio, Dallas and the Chris Pauls.
3. Towelie Alston is still on our roster.

The second half of the season starts tonight in Seatte. Kevin Durant gets at least 20 attempts to show off his 39% shooting percentage and try to upset the Rockets. Yeah, that's not happening.

Time for an 80's Mid Season Review!

Well, provided I get this up before 9:00PM CST today we will still be at the mid-season mark. The Rockets have had many ups and downs. They started the season 6-1 and had a 6 game winning streak going until 2 Saturdays ago. That's 12 wins, so the rest of the season they have gone 10-18, not exactly enough to get you in the playoffs in the Western Conference. That being said, from the very beginning of this blog Dave and I have asserted that this team will not completely gel until after the All Star break. You've seen signs of it as of late, 8 wins in the last 10, 10-5 in the last 15. For now though, the good guys are 22-19, 3 games over .500, 6.5 games out of first in the Southwest Division, and 2 games out of the playoffs. I stand by my prediction that they will be in the playoffs AND win at least the first round. I think when it is all said and done we get to the sixth seed. Now, let's get to some Mid-Season "Awards"

Since the Rockets have played like a bad 80s movie this year, I thought it only fitting to give out some awards that were created from some of my favorite moments/characters of the decade:

The Daniel LaRussa Award: For kicking ass when few give him any chance, even when he proves over and over that he’s “The Best Around”: Yao Ming, though he's busy practicing so he is unable to attend.

The Officer John McClane "yippe-kay-a mofo" Award: For being a complete bad ass: Yao Ming (Note: This is Yao's second award, he is really cleaning up)

The Ferris Bueller Lazy Man of the First Half Award: "I feel like taking the day off and everyone but a select few like my sister will still love me": Tracy McGrady
The Sloth Award: Goonies is one of my favorite movies and sloth is one of the all time greatest side kicks. He's there in the clutch at the end and always seems to make a difference when you least expect it: Shane Battier
The Darth Vader in Jedi Award: A "Beautiful black visage removed to reveal a feeble, crusty old white man": Shane Battier

The Gopher from Caddyshack Award: For being scrappy, resourceful, having the ability to annoy the shit out of other players, for being just plain bad ass and you could see singing “I’m Alright, Don’t Nobody Worry ‘Bout Me”: Luis Scola
The Jimmy Edwards Wizard Award: While short and young, Jimmy Edwards dazzled when no one thought he could do it. Against all odds/playing for Oregon and somehow not knocking up a cheerleader, he rode to the top: Aaron Brooks
The Mogwai Award: You think, what harm can it do, until you realize little things like it's name meaning Evil Spirit in Cantonese/has a history of being a fuck-up, it can't go near bright light/make layups, can't take a bath/hit three pointers and can't eat after midnight/not turn the ball over at crucial times: Rafer Alston
The Howard the Duck Award: Lots of hype as it was made by LucasFilm, unfortunately only had one good aspect, Lea Thompson/shooting while not being guarded, it bombed in every other way though/can't dribble, throw an entry pass: Luther Head
The Rad Award: Great movie when I was a kid, and Lori Laughlin turned a cheesy 80s movie into a long career. Much like our award winner has turned only being able to rebound into a few million dollars in the NBA: Chuck Hayes
The Tom Cruise in The Outsiders Award: For the guy who you think looking back; "How the hell did he end up being the biggest star of that group and we didn't realize it right away"? : Carl Landry
The Goose Award: For the guy who is a fantastic sidekick and is always there keeping his friend loose/laughing on the bench. A guy who you will be really be sad to see go: Dikembe Mutumbo
The Doc Brown Award: This is given to the craziest guy around, a guy who you aren't quite sure about until it all comes together in a time machine made out of a Delorean/champion: Daryl Morey
The Norman Dale Look-Alike Award: Coach Adelman, plus he has a drunk son/assistant coach just like Dale did in Shooter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bartender! I'll have another one of these

I have never understood why the NBA has scheduling quirks like this, but the Rockets play the Sonics in back to back games. It truly makes no sense in this case since the teams are not even in the same time zone. I'm sure it's mafia related in some way though, just like everything Stern does, so I'm going to stop asking questions.

The good guys won a game yesterday, a game they tried to give away through piss-poor shooting, but Yao and Tracy wouldn't let their teammates get them down. I guess that's why we need TMac, to keep it together when our other guards forget that Yao is an option in the fourth quarter. Without both of these guys they would have lost as the two were a combined 19-34 for 55.9% from the floor for 47 of the 96 Rockets points. How did the rest of the team do you ask? 18-53 for 33%. Tracy missed both of his threes, but I would like to thank the good Lord that he only took 2, I can live with 2-3 a game. But more than that, unless he has hit all 2-3 of them first, is really asking for trouble. The Rockets as a whole managed 1-12 from the 3 point line for an Arctic cold 8.3%. What does this shitty shooting percentage add up to? The Sonics fucking suck.

Yao's monster line:

Yes, he's really, really good. Fuck anyone that thinks Chris Kaman can even be the cup in his jock.

The Sonics have now lost 11 straight and the Rockets look to make it 12 on Wednesday at 9:00PM CST. I loathe West Coast games, they mean I can't get my beauty sleep. And trust me, I'm a handsome devil without it, but I love me some sleep. On the plus side, maybe the Rockets will have time to wake up before they play the game this time around.

In other non-Rockets, non-basketball news, HAHA to the White Sox: Signing Dotel to a 2 year $11MM contract is just dumb

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hey, Chuck, Coach wants to see you

Rockets beat Seattle 96-89. Yao leads the way with 30 points and 17 rebounds. Oh, and 4 blocks, too. Cause he's beastly like that. Tracy hobbled along to 17 points 6 rebounds and 5 assists - a pretty strong showing for a guy who is clearly still hurting. I'll be nice and not talk about how he's going to be abused on defense by all upcoming opponents. And Carl Landry kicked ass. Once again.

Oh, Yao - this is where you use your elbow and teach Kurt Thomas a lesson. He went to TCU, and is a dirty Horned Frog, so elbows to the nose are well deserved. Pleasantries aside...

This should be the locker room conversation right now:


[random assistant coach] Hey! Hayes -- Coach Adelman would like to see you in his office! He says it is important!

Okay, Coach!

[Rick Adelman] Chuck, have a seat.

[Chuck] What's up, Ricky?

[Ricky] Chuck, did you see Carl Landry today?

[Chuck] Nope, I was busy reading over my shoe contract with the company in China.

[Ricky] You have a shoe contract? Holy shit. Anyway, Landry had 12 points, 2 rebounds a steal and a block in only 14 minutes of action. It's his fourth really productive game in a row.

[Chuck] You let a rookie play?

[Ricky] Silence! Anyway, how many points did you score today, Chuck?

[Chuck] Hold on, let me count (starts gyrating wildly in a counting motion using his fingers/toes)...

[Ricky] Uhhh, Chuck - let me save you some time. The answer is zero. You didn't score.

[Chuck] Hey, but the European dude didn't score, either!

[Ricky] Chuck, Luis Scola is not European. He's from Argentina. Though he did play professional basketball for Spain for 10 years. He probably has a shoe contract, too. Oh, and he's a legitimate 6'10" while you are shorter than Charles Barkley. He can score points, too, if we need. He's actually shooting 50% from the floor. And it's not all layups and putbacks - he can actually shoot. Kinda like Yao.

[Chuck] What's your point, coach?

[Ricky] My point is this... have you learned how to shoot yet?

[Chuck] No, but I never could.

[Ricky] Have you learned how to catch a pass yet?

[Chuck] Hey, that's not fair! I have Rafer and Luther trying to throw passes to me! You try catching their passes that somehow don't end up in the other team's hands!

[Ricky] Okay, that's a good point. Nevertheless... Chuck... I'm going to have to bench you for now. Luis has earned the right to be the starter. And Landry has clearly earned the right to significant playing time. That's two players earning time at the power forward position.

[Chuck] I'll play center. Yao can't last 48 minutes!

[Ricky] Chuck, you are 6'4" - you are barely taller than a shooting guard. So, no.

[Chuck] So, what do you want me to do?

[Ricky] Keep Franchise and Mike James entertained during games. Dikembe might be running out of material by now. And Novak has *no* comedic timing. It's all on you. Anyway, that's all I got, Chuck. Thanks for understanding. Could you send Rafer and Luther in? And tell them to bring their playbooks?

Rockets - 22-19! At the mid-point of the season!

More reasons why Yao Ming completely rules

Lee forwarded me an awesome interview/article on Yao Ming after the Philly game debacle.

For the first time in his entire career, Yao Ming left the arena and refused to talk to the media after the game. This was certainly understandable given that the Rockets blew a 16 point lead and the additional fact that Yao's teammates Rafer and Luther combined to shoot the ball 26 more times than Yao did.

(Yao after another Luther Head bad pass)

But after a night to reflect on a bad loss, Yao proved why he's the F'n man:

TITAN Sports: Right after the game last evening, why did you leave without taking the post-game press conference/interview? This is the very first time that such thing happened ever since you came to NBA.

Yao Ming: I really don’t know what else I can say. I was feeling very very angry and at the same time quite melancholy; so I just took my bath and left. Moreover, I knew, if I did attend the press conference/interview last evening, all I would have said would definitely be angry words. I don’t want to become angry or mad again. Such temper tantrum won’t help to solve problems. I have told you earlier that I have said what I should have said already.

Granted, this here blog has long been a proponent of Yao getting angry and playing angry. But he has a point. Temper tantrums do not solve anything (unless it ends with Rafer injured). Yao is a better man than me - I'd have been cussing and complaining and chewing out everyone in a post-game conference. He knew that he could not put himself in that position, so he chose not to allow for that opportunity. Smart man.

To continue:

TITAN Sports: So the key is which particular position that had not played well?

Yao Ming: Every one of us; we all have issues/problems. (When I said) every one of us, it also included me. We are a collective. When we win, it is the Rockets who win; it is not someone has won. When the Rockets lose, we lose as a team. We have not played well at all.

TITAN Sports: So who should bear the responsibility for this defeat?

Yao Ming: Of course, it is on me. Since I want to step up to lead this team, naturally, I should bear the responsibility. I felt very sad and uncomfortable about the loss, but we need to look and move forward. We just cannot always live in the shadow of defeats and the past.

Now *that* is a leader. While Rafer tries to spread blame around when he fucks up a game, Yao takes responsibility for losses - even when they are clearly not his fault in any way, shape or form. T-Mac is also to be credited for having the same attitude - the difference is that Game 7 last year kinda really was T-Mac's fault.

I've stated before that we have to re-adjust our expectations for this season. We have to be patient. To overcome Rafer's shittiness and Luther's cowardice, it is going to take time to learn Ricky's motion offense, get T-Mac back to good health and also figure out the best way to use Scola, Brooks and Landry. The Rockets are not going to be a team anyone wants to play after the All-Star break. Yao sort of seems to agree:

TITAN Sports: You also added that the Rockets is like a sinking ship with a big hole in the hull. Is the situation of the Rockets that serious and worse as you described?

Yao Ming: How severe or dangerous the Rockets is has to be completely decided by us. If we play as hard as we can, we can turn the situation around…..or else…………….I believe we can turn it around.

After 40 games - the turn-around starts today. Seattle visits on MLK day.

Time to show the Durants while a playoff team looks like.

This is why!

This is why I do not bet on NFL games:

Elisha Manning... in the Super Bowl? No freakin' way!