Rockets fight back from skid
The Rockets have a disappointing 8-7 record through their first 15 games this season after a 6-1 start, including a win over the defending champion Spurs.
The great start was erased with a six-game skid including a loss to the Miami Heat (2-9). The Rockets ended the six-game losing streak Saturday night with an impressive 109-81 win over the Nuggets at Toyota Center and made it two consecutive wins with a 88-71 win against the L.A. Clippers on Monday.
In the beginning
The losing streak began at Memphis on Nov. 13 and lasted until Nov. 23 when the Rockets lost at Miami. The six-game losing streak at the time was the second longest in the NBA after the New York Knicks, who had lost eight consecutive games. Other losses included home games to the Lakers, Suns and Mavericks and a road loss to the Spurs.
The Rockets toughest loss during the losing streak was to the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 21.
The Rockets led by 17 in the third quarter, only to drop that game at home 100-94 with 30 points and 15 rebounds from Yao Ming. Tracy McGrady added 15 points and 12 assists, but the Rockets were not able to beat a well-coached Mavericks team led by guard Avery Johnson.
It was McGrady’s first game back after straining his elbow in a 93-90 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov.14. The Lakers beat the Rockets in their second meeting of the year after the Rockets won the season opener on Oct. 30. McGrady missed two games with that elbow injury.
Rockets fans have been eager to see point guard Steve Francis get on the court. Francis, in his second stint with the Rockets, has been a reserve for the entire season, seeing action only once in the team’s first 13 games. He played 23 minutes in a loss against the Suns, scoring eight points as the Rockets were blown out.
Fans at Toyota Center have been chanting "We Want Steve!" "We Want Steve!" in hopes head coach Rick Adelman puts him in the lineup.
It finally paid off, as Francis had a season-high 10 points, four rebounds and three assists when the Rockets blew out the Nuggets 109-81 on Saturday night.
Francis provides a spark the Rockets need off the bench, and he should be playing more than just two games all year.
Big trouble in little China
An exciting moment for fans everywhere was when the Bucks came to Houston to play the Rockets on Nov. 9.
This game marked the first matchup between Chinese sensations Yao and Bucks forward Yi Jianlian. The game was broadcast in China and took in an overwhelming audience of 200 million fans.
Yao was impressed with Yi’s basketball abilities, and both players enjoyed playing against each other for the first time in the NBA. Yao had 28 points and Yi had 19 points in the Rockets’ 104-88 victory against the Bucks.
Through 14 games, McGrady and Yao are each averaging more than 22 points per game. Yao is also averaging 10.2 rebounds to lead the Rockets. Forward Luis Scola is having a good year off the bench, averaging about seven points and five rebounds a contest.
The Rockets are five games behind the Spurs for first place in the division with a 1-4 division record.
Forward Steve Novak, the Rockets draft pick out of Marquette a season ago, was demoted to the National Basketball Development League and assigned to Rio Grande, the Rockets’ developmental league affiliate. Novak has not played in a game this season and will still be a part of the 15-man roster.
The Rockets have to bounce back strong in a tough Western Conference where there are a lot of good teams at the top of the standings.