News » Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-02-01

Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-02-01

Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-02-01
Yao Ming did not want to hear even a reference to the 76ers.

"Don't mention Philadelphia," Yao said. "I hate this name now. Don't even start with 'P.'"

The Rockets' losses to the 76ers have been unusually painful, with each of the home-court defeats in the last two seasons coming with the Rockets blowing seemingly safe second-half leads. Yao's frustration and desire to forget those nights was understandable.

There was another way, however, to look at the days that followed the Rockets' latest loss to the Sixers.

The day after last season's home loss to the Sixers, the Rockets held a team meeting and quickly began turning the season around.

The day after this season's home loss to the Sixers, the Rockets again held a team meeting. This one was more impromptu, morphing from the usual pre-practice video session. And it was more specific to basketball issues, rather than general topics such as goals for the season or the fortitude and determination it would take to achieve the goals.

The Rockets could only hope the latest post-Philly get-together will have the same effect.

"Everybody with their opinion could say what they think," Yao said. "I said what I think. And Dikembe (Mutombo) said something. And Chuck Hayes spoke. Shane (Battier). Almost everybody. We just tried to connect with everybody."

Rockets players said there were not personality issues to be remedied. But they used terms -- such as the need to get "on the same page" -- typical of team meetings.

"No personality issues," Tracy McGrady said. "I think everybody in the locker room gets along fairly well. Everybody is coachable. Everybody wants to win. It's just a matter of us focusing and guys knowing they have to sacrifice and have a good effort and be a smarter basketball team."

Still, the Rockets said there were things to cover that did not sound to be about pick-and-roll coverage or ball movement.

"There's just been so much going on before I got here," said Mutombo, who signed Dec. 31. "There was a lot of distraction. Coach is doing the best to clean it up. We need to be here as a family and be together."

ROCKETS 110, WARRIORS 93: For a half, the Warriors scored often and reliably, and little seemed to have changed for the Rockets. Frustrated as the Rockets had been with recent losses, the way they lost was equally maddening. After priding themselves on defense for so long, they had seen the Knicks and 76ers, and so many others, tear through them, especially in the fourth quarter. The Rockets had not fallen apart defensively, but neither were they what they were.

Then in the second half against the Warriors, the Rockets defense took over. They locked down the lane, challenged jumpers and grabbed control of the game, outscoring the Warriors 57-42 in the second half.

The Warriors made just 35.7 percent of their shots in the second half, and just 28 percent in the final 16 minutes when the Rockets took command.

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Added: February 1, 2009


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