(Yao fouled... no call. At least some things never change.)
1st half shooting
Surprisingly, T-Mac wasn't there to blame the bad shooting on the fans this time around. He didn't play the 2nd half because he's banged up. Again.
So, Coach Adelman did the only logical and rational thing he could do. He turned to Clyde Drexler for help.
"Can you shoot?" Adelman asked.
Smartly, Clyde stayed far, far away from the train wreck that is now your '07/'08 Houston Rockets. Yao Ming is doing everything he can. Aside from winning games. Tracy McGrady either doesn't play the 2nd half, or stays 35 feet away from the basket when he does play. Rafer Alston still can't make a post-entry pass. Or a jumpshot. Or a layup.
(okay, Rafer actually played "okay" last night and chipped in 17 points. Funny how his big scoring nights always come in losses though.)
Meanwhile, the Rockets have faded to a 12-13 record. They wouldn't even be in the playoffs if they started today. They wouldn't even be the 1st alternate if one team died in a fiery plane crash (I'm looking at you, Dallas!). This for a team that was 6-1 a month ago. A 6-12 spree of mediocrity has changed the perception of this season quickly.
What do we do? [Enter voice of reason and optimism]
While I am rarely the type of person one seeks out if they need a positive spin on things, there is hope here. No, it's not as simple as "trade Rafer Alston for Jessica Simpson" though. Sadly. For that would mess up two teams at once.
No - instead, I am going to preach patience. Yes, patience. Last year, the Rockets woke up every morning only to see this guy in their face:
And while I am a huge, huge fan of the JVG era and was sad to see him go, I understand... the fiery type coaches have limited windows of opportunity before players tune them out. In his place, we now have the friendly mug of this guy guiding us through the long, difficult stretch of time known as the NBA regular season:
See! I am not the only one who is confused! Adelman is, too.
Now, why am I preaching patience when I know that the NBA, its players and its fans usually possess none of that precious quality? Simple - Adelman runs a rather complicated motion offense. It didn't work immediately in Portland... but they figured it out and got to two NBA Finals (with Clyde!). It didn't immediately work in Sacramento (for many reasons)... but they got Divac and Webber and would have made it to at least one Finals if Kobe Bryant wasn't such a badass. They did make the playoffs though... with regularity. Something previously unknown to Cow Town Sacramento. And I believe it will work for the Rockets.
The hurdle, however, is that T-Mac seems reluctant to buy-in to this offensive scheme. And he's stopped playing defense in the meantime. Yao has been unable to thrive in the high post because Rafer, Mike James, Stevie and T-Mac can't get him the ball at the right time and at the right location. Which makes all the difference.
Obviously, I re-affirm my belief that Rafer must go.
And if the Lakers want to dangle Kobe for T-Mac, hell yeah...
But mostly, I am preaching patience. Just watch. By the All Star break (mid-February), at some point the proverbial light will go on for the Rockets. Maybe by then we will have figured out the point guard situation, how to properly use Quagmire, um, I mean Luis Scola, and also how to properly harness Yao's increasing anger. Then we'll go on a late season run.
Do I expect to win the Championship this year? Not anymore (sorry Mr. Hollinger!), but I do see hope for the very, very near future. Unlike a certain other sports team in Houston.
So, as a show of support for my theory, can you assholes just beat Denver tonight?