First of all -- great, great clutch shots by both Brandon Roy (twice) and Yao Ming. That ending sucked considering I am a Rockets fan. But I appreciate good basketball and true highlight plays when I see 'em. That was a classic (stomach-punch) ending to a heavily contested game.
The game overall, however? Well... the Rockets got to overtime almost in spite of their coach and overall strategy.
Is Rick Adelman narcoleptic?
... I just have to ask. I mean, why the hell is Chuck Hayes playing 26 minutes????? Chuck played almost the entire 4th Q and would have played the entire overtime, but for the simultaneous act of fouling out and injuring his shoulder.
Meanwhile, Luis Scola plays a fantastic 1st Q... and stays aggressive in the 2nd half. What's his reward? Only 23 minutes of game action and a very, very early seat on the bench. Even Reggie Miller was asking why Scola was glued to the bench when the Rockets had trouble scoring to close out the game.
Adelman can't be happy with his decision making tonight. First he takes way too long to realize that Aldridge and Outlaw are actually making open shots. By the time he makes the defensive adjustments sometime in the 3rd Q, Nate McMillian had already countered the expected move and got Fernandez, Rodriguez and Roy back involved in the game. Ricky's counter to that? Uh, leave Chuck in the game.
Yeah, McMillian realized that T-Mac was hot. Nate didn't sit back and let T-Mac beat him. No. He double-teamed. And 99.9% of the time, the Blazers rotated away from Chuck Hayes to double-team McGrady. That's just smart basketball.
The smart counter move would be to remove Chuck and put a 4th scorer on the floor. I guess the page for "smart counter moves" was removed from Adelman's playbook last night (and it would not surprise me that it would only be one page long either).
In the last two offensive possessions, the Rockets came out of time-outs with the score tied. At any point Rick could have inserted Scola (or even Carl Landry). Instead, he chose to leave offensively-impotent Chuck Hayes on the court. Which only allowed Portland to double-team McGrady with no fear of being burned for the gamble. This happened TWICE. Both times, the Rockets failed to get even a modicum of a good shot off. Ugh.
Free Luis Scola!!!!
(Oh, and whatever happened to the Rockets' vaunted team defense? Artest is a great on-the-ball defender, but the Rockets' team D is lacking. Allowing too much penetration to the middle, no rotations to the open men. No rebounding in traffic. Too many uncontested 15-18 foot jump shots.)
I'm going to consider last night a mulligan for the team. We made a miracle shot, only to have it followed by another even more miraculous shot. It happens. My only problem is that it should have never gotten to OT. Not if our coach was awake.
In closing, I like Chuck Hayes. He's a solid basketball player. But we have Scola and Landry and even Joey Dorsey. Guys who do the same things as Chuck - and more - and are much taller and able to actually put the ball in the basket. So, yeah, I like you Chuck, I just like winning more!!!