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Recap: Rockets overcome free-throw follies in Denver, hold on for 97-95 win

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Fortunately, Yao Ming and the Rockets had the last laugh, despite blowing a 19-point lead.

(Getty Images/Garrett Ellwood)

I'm not sure what to make of this one.  I turned off my TV with one those "Well...I guess we won"  feelings.  Then I noticed that Los Angeles and New Orleans both lost and immediately felt much better.  But I still don't really know about this game.  Maybe it will grow on me as I think more about it.

Let's pretend I have multi-personality disorder for a second.  It will help me sort out the positves from the negatives...in some weird, screwed up way:

 

Nice win!  We went 2 for 2 on a back-to-back...

But we built a brickhouse from the free throw line.

The win gives us a tie-breaker for homecourt advantage in the playoffs...

But we blew a nineteen-point lead.  What the hell.

Think of how tired we were, especially with the altitude change...

I don't care how tired we were -- Yao nearly blew the game with that horrendous foul.

Hey, at least Aaron Brooks shot well...

Shot well?  Did you see him go 1-5 down the stretch?  He tried to score OVER Nene.

He's a midget, give him a break...

Nate Robinson thinks you're hilarious.  Not.

Hey, how about Luis Scola's 15 rebounds?  What a deal...

Hey, how about his five turnovers and 4 points? Chuck Hayes could do that easily...especially the 5 turnovers.

We held a ridiculous offense to 95 points.  You can't possibly refute that...

Yes I can.

Well good luck...

They scored 33 points in the fourth quarter.  We gave up 28 to Billups.  Even Birdman scored.

Everyone in the NBA can score at least one point, buddy...

Go look at Chuck's box score.  Go ahead, take a peek.  What does that say?  Huh?  What's that?  BIRDMAN OUTSCORED THE CHUCKWAGON.

That's not exactly the defining matchup of the game.  You're really pushing it now...

Wait, just let me think of something.  Uh...we shot 57% from the free throw line!

You said that, dumbass...

No no, there's still more.  Ah - we gave up 3 three's to J.R. Smith.  Inexcusable!

Two of them were from half court.  Are you done yet?

(sigh)...Well, how about the Lakers.  Gonna kill us tomorrow....

They're down by thirty.  You're done.

Whatever.

 

You know, that actually helped somewhat.  My mind is much clearer now - this was a good win for us.

A few observations:

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  • Aaron Brooks isn't Allen Iverson.  He isn't even Kyle Lowry.  My biggest pet peeve with him is that he can't finish consistently in the paint.  His hook shots off the glass will only go in so often, and he needs to realize this ASAP.
    On a few occassions, Aaron got into the paint, but instead of either A) Looking to dish the ball out, or B) Dribbling out of the paint and looking for new options, he chose to throw up a crazy, floating layup over Nene or Chris Andersen.  People may wonder what Chauncey or Steve Nash are thinking when they simply dribble around in the lane in circles.  They aren't just wasting clock or fooling around - they're weighing their options, and are being patient.  As veterans, they know that it is much smarter to dribble out of the paint and set up a new play rather than waste a possession by throwing up a prayer.  Aaron needs to learn from these guys.  It's wonderful to see him being aggressive, but he also needs to be smart when doing so.
  • Melo scored the quietest 21 points I've ever seen.  It seemed like the team was playing without him, and then he'd show up, make a jumper, and disappear for another five minutes.  Maybe it was White Pills, maybe it was an off-night for him - I don't know.  But as Denver continues to slide, Anthony continues to fade into oblivion.  He'll still score his 30 points every few nights, but scoring seems like the most important thing to him right now.  The Nuggets should be his team, but as of now, they follow Chauncey.  All while Carmelo goes out, does his thing, enters the locker room, and watches the post-game highlights to see who won.
  • As our team's star player, Yao Ming cannot foul an opposing player at halfcourt.  Ever.  And especially not during crunch time when he already has five fouls.  We were up by nine at that point, and we ended up winning by 2 (okay, that's not really fair, we won by 5).  He had a decent game, but this could have been catastrophic.  I really have no idea what he was thinking, and while it's something he knows he shouldn't have done, that doesn't make it any easier to stomach.

Three Up:

Ron Artest -- Despite shooting erratically in the fourth quarter, Ron continued to shoot well from behind the three point line and did an excellent job on Carmelo Anthony, minus one defensive lapse that resulted in a Melo three-ball.  22/6/4 are numbers that fans have come to be quite satisfied and familiar with.

Aaron Brooks -- I ragged on him earlier, but Aaron did make a clutch layup around Nene, and he hit a few three-pointers from (as Matt Bullard noted) Loveland, Colorado.  His defense on Chauncey wasn't as good as it was in Houston, but he can only do so much against one of the strongest point guards in the league.

Carl Landry -- Carl had a huge game tonight, hitting about four open jumpers, allowing us to have an answer for Denver's double-team on Luis Scola when Yao would go to the bench.  He's been playing great of late, and if Scola were to ever go down, Landry would be more than ready to step in at the 4.

Honorable Mention:

Chuck Hayes -- Save of The Year.  I never thought he was that athletic.

Three Down:

Yao Ming -- Decent game overall, but that idiotic foul gets him a spot here.  I still can't believe he did that.

Von Wafer -- He did hit a big jump shot in the fourth, but his free-throw shooting really hurt tonight.

Annoying Kid That Yells During Free Throws -- Dude, your voice sounds like the monster from "Jeepers Creepers."  In brief retrospect, that was a terrible insult.  But seriously, I couldn't stand hearing him scream much longer.  Unfortunately, it worked.

Stat of the Night:

 

Free Throws...yikes.  Rockets: 20-35

 

Luis Scola "Phantom Call" of the Night:

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It's not my decision to keep running this feature, though I like it very much.  The refs just keep screwing him.  Tonight's call reminded me of the terrible affair we had in Utah a year or two ago.  I can't find the video, but it's when Scola boxed out for a rebound, and was brought down to the ground by two Jazz players, only to be called for the foul.  This instance was no different.  While boxing out Linas Kleiza, Scola tripped over Nene's foot, and was losing his balance when Kleiza somehow "became attached" to Scola's jersey and fell to the ground as well.  Luis picked up his fifth foul on this play, and he fouled out of the game about twenty seconds later.  Phantom Call: Holding. 

Next Game: Wednesday vs. the Lakers.  I'm a believer.