The Rockets introduced their Team of the 1990s at tonights game. Kenny Smith, Clyde Drexler, Mario Ellie, Robert Horry and of course, Hakeem Olajuwon. As this is the nucleus of the NBA Champion Rockets teams, it is (perhaps arguably) the greatest Rockets team of all time. When interviewed and asked about the modern NBA, Hakeem stated that it is very different game now, and that is obviously true. It's an awe inspiring exercise to imagine the damage Hakeem could do in the (much softer) modern game.
Despite the general lack of bloody conflict under the basket, the current version of the Rockets displayed elements that would be familiar to the championship teams: inside dominance.
How dominant? The Rockets finished with a +17 rebound edge, and scored 58 points in the paint. This may look a bit stronger than it really is, as Golden State spent much of the game playing David Lee at center. For those of us who don't enjoy Luis Scola at center, there exists something worse.
Golden State is clearly in full bore tank mode, with Stephon Curry and new injury addition Andrew Bogut (a nice complement to the permanently injured Andris Biedrins) all out, and Monta Ellis, a thorn in the Rockets' side, gone to cold climes. The Warriors have their first round pick traded to Utah, but its protected if it's low enough, and they seem determined to make it low enough. Thats fine by me, as the fewer picks Utah gets, the better.
The Rockets shared the wealth tonight, with 23 assists, 7(!) coming from Luis Scola, and Chandler Parsons scored 20 on 8-16 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds.
An aside, I don't actually think Parson looks like a douche, he strikes me more as "goofy gym rat". Anyway, Blake Griffin has taken over the Looks Like a Douche Pretty Much All the Time lead, and he doesn't look to give it up.
The whole team played well. Dalembert and Camby controlled the middle, Goran (Dragon Fire) Dragic continued to price himself out of our budget, and even Marcus Morris demonstrated the fluid shot and slick drives he displayed at Kansas.
All and all it was a relaxing game for the Rocket legends to behold, as GSW only threatened briefly in the 2nd quarter when they deployed a zone that temporarily flustered the second unit.
- I truly admire the work of Sebastian Pruiti (particularly his video breakdowns), but his placing Iman Shumpert in his rookie top ten ahead of Chandler Parsons strikes me as willfully silly, if for no other reason than Shumpert has missed significant time (and also looks lost much of the time.).
- Luis Scola - You'd think Scola vs David Lee is a pretty close match. You'd think. Scola hits 8-10 shots to go with 7 (should have been 8) assists, to score 18 in 25 almost cruel minutes of action.
- Marcus Morris - didn't play GSW's "A Team" (such as it is presently construed) but he did look like an NBA player in his minutes.
- Plus One- Marcus Camby - can still play, and following a 7ft defender with another 7ft defender produces a strange sensation that I don't feel entirely comfortable describing in this space. Samuel Dalembert played really well too.
- Chase Budinger had a night to forget - Chase went 0-7 tonight, and is the only Rocket not to score. Since he's been lighting up the net recently, I'll just say shake it off.
- Les Alexander - while every present member of the 1990s Team of the Decade was extensively interviewed in game, Les refused to look at the camera or, indeed, crack a smile. In fact I'd go so far as to say he glowered all night. I know that unlike some owners, he actually watches the game, but this game was pretty much in hand all night. Smile, Les, smile. Maybe he was thinking of when those guys were playing and it was making him a bit misty.
- Goran Dragic - making himself too expensive with excellent play.