Same old story: Rockets still lack true finisher to replace Yao & McGrady

You couldn't ignore it.  The Rockets countered with baskets, but you still weren't convinced.  And then, when it came down to the final 13 seconds of the game, you thought about it yet again.

Who is going to take the final shot?

With the final possession determining the outcome of the game, the Los Angeles Lakers weren't about to let anyone score the easy way.

How about sending Aaron Brooks through the lane for a dwarf-tastic layup?  Nope.  Andrew Bynum wasn't about give Brooks any space by stepping up late to help again.

Or how about giving Trevor Ariza space to isolate his defender?  Nope.  Ron Artest wasn't going to give an inch of room for Ariza to beat him off the dribble.

In the end, the Rockets got caught in between both options, and it resulted in a turnover.  When we finally got our answer to who was going to step up at the end, it was pretty clear:  Nobody.

As extraordinary as they've been, the Rockets lack a go-to guy when it counts, and there's nothing they can do about it.  Up to this point, opponents hadn't forced the Rockets into a do-or-die situation on the offensive end.  Golden State turned a 108-101 deficit into a single-point Houston victory.  Each of the Portland games weren't as close as the final score indicated.  And we beat the living Christ hell out of Utah.

Houston's offense revolves around the flow of the game.  We want to be able to score when a defense isn't set - when a defense is most vulnerable.  That's how we're going to get our points.  If we're forced to slow it down, we take advantage of little things, such as backdoor cuts, short passes in the paint, and drive-and-kick opportunities.  As the game tightens towards the end, and as the adrenaline picks up for the opposing defense, those "little things" suddenly become much harder to execute.  Defenders become more focused on individual plays, and if they weren't giving 100% effort before, they certainly are when the game is one the line.

Yeah, the Rockets will make a clutch shot every once in a while.  And no, Trevor Ariza won't have a defender like Artest on him all the time.  But at the end of the day, the odds will rarely be in our favor.

That said, when Rick Adelman draws up an ingenious play to win a game, don't say I didn't tell you so.  I'm not bold enough to put anything by him.

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