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Houston Rockets 116, New York Knicks 112


The irony of Tracy McGrady making accusations of proverbial bus-throwings is just too rich.  No further comment on this.  I have made my stance on McGrady quite clear.


As much as I try, I just simply can’t understand this mindset.  Unless there was some sort of personal acrimony at play here, the total short sightedness is appalling.  It would make sense if D’Antoni’s justification was that Hill was just so bad a player that he saw nothing worth developing.  That would make perfect sense.  But D’Antoni concedes that Jordan “wasn’t given a great chance,” somehow citing the team’s playoff hopes as his rationale.  He names four players, just one of whom were a part of the Knicks’ long term plans, who were ahead of Jordan in the pecking order, remarking that “there was no reason to not play Jared Jeffries ahead of Jordan.”  Seriously?  I have a pretty good reason.  It’s the same damn one that has led Rick Adelman to play Jordan ahead of Jared: You are the head coach of a non-playoff team and enjoy some of the best job security in the league.  How could it possibly not be in your best interests to develop the 8th pick in the draft – a guy who could help you in later years while you will undoubtedly still be around?  See, I can typically empathize with coaches of bad teams who sacrifice player development for meaningless wins because I understand the schism between management and coaching – in most cases, those younger coaches of bad teams don’t have the job security of their peers and cannot concern themselves with the future.  That’s not the case with D’Antoni.  So as I said, unless there’s something I don’t know about, this whole episode is quite baffling because D’Antoni’s on-the-record justification is beyond laughable.

Speaking of Jordan Hill, he scored 13 points and grabbed 5 boards in his 25 minutes of play.  Considering the fact that he has been closing out the 4th quarter of close games—Boston game not withstanding—it seems like Rick actually considers Jordan to be one of the two best bigs on the Houston Rockets.  There’s a shocker.  Funny what happens when you allow a lottery pick to actually play.

Clyde Frazier and Mike Breen touched on Hill’s work ethic during the broadcast, something most Knicks’ observers have mentioned in the past few weeks.  He’ll never be a superstar or anything ridiculous like that.  But I just can’t see anything standing in Jordan Hill’s path from becoming an impact starter in this league.  He has the two most necessary ingredients for starter-level competence: work ethic and size/athleticism.  The IQ and the fine skillsets are what make good players great and in Hill’s case, that remains to be seen.  But with that body, that motor, and the alleged dedication, there’s really no way Jordan Hill isn’t grabbing 10 boards a game as a mainstay in someone’s lineup for the next 10 years.  Rest easy, my friends: this is not Stromile Swift.

Moving along, this was a very entertaining game to watch.  Part of that had to do with the broadcast crew of Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier, a duo that is my second favorite in the league (after Marv and the Czar who have reached such legendary status that they really shouldn’t count.)  It makes a difference who is calling the game and yesterday afternoon it did, for me at least.  Clyde Frazier just strikes me as a guy having the time of his life, calling the game he loves (at one point describing Kyle Lowry as having “feline quickness and canine tenacity.” – awesome.)

As a viewer, the game experience should go smoothly and naturally.  You shouldn’t be forced to take notice of the officiating.  That ruins the entire viewer experience.  In the old days, it was okay to have so-called “homers” because the broadcast was only run in your market and catered towards your audience.  But in this League Pass era, constant whining about the officiating is, not just obnoxious and ruinous to the viewing experience, but flat out embarrassing.  It reeks of a lack of professionalism and reflects poorly upon an organization, in my opinion.

Anyways, where were we?  In all honesty, if we want to get technical, it really would have been best for the Houston Rockets to lose this game.  A Knicks win lowers Utah’s odds of landing the #1 pick, while each Rockets loss highers our odds.  But whatever.

Trevor went 5-9 from the floor, running the floor and filling the lanes.  I love Trevor in his new role.  Like I said before, aside from Jordan Hills’ emergence (and the fact that our backcourt is pretty much unguardable), the metamorphosis of Trevor Ariza has to stand as the most encouraging theme of the second half.  He’s now doing what we thought he would and looking like the multi-purpose small forward we have been craving since Jalen Rose undercut Mario Elie and ruined his Rocket career.

Chase Budinger finally woke up from his coma, scoring 18 off the bench.  Shock value on some of those dunks must be at least a 7 on a 10 scale for opposing fans.  Probably moreso than any other player on this team, the Rockets just look entertaining when Budinger is on his game.

Kevin Martin scored 28 points while Tracy McGrady had 15-7-5 in the matchup of cornerstone Rockets shooting guards past and present.  McGrady was dominant early, and will probably only get better as the leg gains strength, but you can clearly see why it was time to change course.  To be effective, Tracy McGrady needs the ball in his hands, and at this point in his career, his abilities don’t warrant such high usage.  On the other hand, while Martin will never be half the player Tracy was in his prime, his quick-strike style fits this outfit like a glove and will allow the team to load up on complementary weapons without the headache of shot distribution.  To put it simply, even though Kevin Martin shoots a lot and scores a lot, with the manner in which he does it, the ball is still hopping at all times so other guys can still get in on the fun.  McGrady on the other hand has to hold the ball and slow the pace to be at full force – guys have to play off of him to get theirs, it doesn’t just come naturally in the flow.  That was fine in the earlier part of this decade, but just won’t work anymore, sadly.  McGrady will still be effective in this league on the strength of his passing brilliance, but his days as an impact force are clearly over.  Looking back to that first press conference when he was introduced in Houston, his current plight is sad to think about.

Jared Jeffries was a game changer, coming off the bench for key defensive stops in the form of blocks and drawn charges.  Jeffries is just a menace defensively, from what I can tell, probably even better than Battier by virtue of his size.  He just doesn’t have the Duke credentials on his resume and has rotted away on bad teams his whole career so we hesitate to draw comparison.  If possible, this is a guy who I would love to see re-signed to a smaller contract in 2011, especially if Shane is traded elsewhere.


Aaron Brooks came off the bench in the final minutes to win the game.  The video below shows the deciding possession of the game, Brooks juking with, as Clyde Frazier described it, “Gallo right on his case…like Sherlock Holmes.”  It’s fun to watch Aaron abuse favorable matchups off the dribble, but the question is whether he can do this in the playoffs against people not named Derek Fisher/Steve Blake.  We saw Rondo eat his lunch on Friday.  As it currently stands, Aaron Brooks is this team’s closer, even with a healthy Yao, and that concerns me.  I don’t see him as a guy you can hand the ball to in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and request to bring in the victory.  And that guy is who we need if we are to win a title before Yao finally breaks.

Final note is administrative.  I had enabled anonymous commenting over the weekend only to turn it back off a mere 24 hours later.  The spam was overwhelming, but more importantly, several regular members expressed their concerns regarding the potential effects.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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Houston Rockets 107, Memphis Grizzlies 94