News » Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-06-20

Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-06-20

Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-06-20
The Rockets spent the season overcoming obstacles and developed a great deal of pride about their resilience. The problem with that is that there were so many obstacles.

They did earn the right to feel some measure of satisfaction about their fortitude. They rallied throughout the season following the worst, most discouraging losses. They turned the season around when Tracy McGrady went out for the season due to microfracture surgery. They stunned the Lakers twice after losing Yao Ming for the remainder of the playoffs with a fractured foot.

Still, their prospects would seem considerably improved if they did not have so many problems to overcome.

The Rockets remain committed to building their team and chances around Yao. They hope that McGrady will return from knee and shoulder surgery to bring the offensive trigger their offense lacked. But the idea is to build a team not as dependent on its stars.

"We hoped to accomplish more this year, so we're not satisfied, but we feel like there are a lot of things that happened this year we can build on," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. "Just the attitude we bring defensively, the experience we got for our young players, there are a lot of things we can build on. We're very optimistic going forward.

"The town has invested in us. (Rockets owner Leslie Alexander) is going to invest in this team. He's someone that is always going to invest smart. That's how he got where he is. But he's going to give me whatever resources I need to help this team be better next year. I look forward to that."

The Rockets have been aggressive in the trade market, careful in free agency. They will head to the offseason seeking to re-sign Ron Artest and Von Wafer, and to find a backup for Yao who won't take up too much of the budget.

If they can do all that, they likely would push up close to the luxury-tax line. In an offseason in which there would seem to be more free agents than there are teams with money to spend, the Rockets could be in a position to build a team able to go through fewer obstacles, rather than to have to overcome them. They spent 12 seasons trying to get beyond the first round. Now that they have, they said they will try to become a team able to do more.

"We're in a position now we can go after it," Alexander said. "We have a team to go after it. If we can take advantage of some (financial) problems (of other teams), we'd be willing to do it."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: The Rockets were devastated. They were down to the Lakers, 2-1, and knew they needed a win to stay in the series. They believed they would be without Yao Ming, but only for one game, with his ankle sprain not considered too severe to keep him out longer than that.

Yao even spent that day at Toyota Center treating the ankle sprain and watching video of the Lakers. Late that afternoon, he was told that his season was over, ended by a hairline fracture in his right foot.

The Rockets, however, blew out the Lakers, opening a 29-point lead and tying the series. They reprised that surprising win by stunning the Lakers in Game 6, forcing a seventh game in Los Angeles.

"We will never count ourselves out," Aaron Brooks said. "We've been through a lot this year. Mac (Tracy McGrady) being out, Deke (Dikembe Mutombo) being out, Shane (Battier) being out at the beginning of the year. Now we have Yao out. It seems like we keep going. We're used to it."

TURNING POINT: There were many losses that could have contended for the Rockets' worst of the season. They lost twice to Memphis, lost to the Clippers and Wizards. They blew a huge fourth-quarter lead at home against the Pacers.

The worst, however, might have been in Milwaukee, in which they were blown out from the opening minutes, putting up little fight.

With the Bucks playing without Michael Redd, Luke Ridnour and Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee led by as much as 25 and cruised to a 124-112 rout of the Rockets. Tracy McGrady had a breakaway dunk blocked by the rim, began a search for second opinions that led to his microfracture surgery and never played again. Ten days after the loss in Milwaukee, the team was stunned with the trade of Rafer Alston.

The Rockets, however, responded with their longest winning streak of the season, six games, and went 22-8 the rest of the season.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 20, 2009


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