Rockets take fans for ride
Starting today, The Daily Cougar will begin running a segment titled ‘Craig’s List,’ put together by yours truly, Phillipe Craig. Although you can’t find used lawnmowers or blind dates like the other list bearing the same name, you will find what I hope is thoughtful and spot-on analysis on numerous topics. So without further ado, let the debate begin.
This week’s list features the top 10 moments of the 2008-2009 Rockets season.
10. Opening night victory over the Memphis Grizzlies
While it may not mean much for a team with championship aspirations to beat a cellar-dweller like the Grizzlies, it started the season on a positive note and gave the home crowd a lot to look forward to.
9. The return of the Power Dancers
OK, so they never really left, but it’s always nice to see them do their part at Rockets games. Besides, we all know why they’re so popular – the high-flying trampoline dunks they do during down time. Right?
8. Payback vs. the Celtics
After Boston ended the Rockets 22-game win streak last season and handed them their first loss of this season, you could say they had it coming. Even sweeter, the Rockets did it short-handed and in Boston. Payback is a mutha’hellip;
7. The return of Deke
When Dikembe Mutombo signed with Houston halfway through the season, the Rockets got one of the final pieces needed to make a deep run in the playoffs. Deke provided security for Yao, in addition to his trademark finger wave and lovable cookie monster voice.
6. Redemption vs. Utah
In their first matchup against Utah since the Jazz ousted them from last year’s playoffs, Ron Artest and his gimpy ankle led the Rockets to a thrilling double-overtime victory over their rivals. This game was a preview of the toughness Artest provided all season, and how his teammates fed off of it.
5. The ‘Von-hawk’
Truth be told, it’s more than just the unique twist on a haircut previously reserved for those roaming the parking lot of an ’80s punk show. The hairstyle is emblematic of the energy Von Wafer gave his teammates and fans. Wafer made big plays all season, from rim-rattling dunks to nail-in-the-coffin 3s.
4. Game 1 Portland
Need I say more? This was a thorough beat-down that wasn’t even as close as the final 27-point margin of victory indicated. The Rockets came into the playoffs focused, and it showed. They ran the young Blazers squad off their home court behind a perfect 12-for-12 first-half shooting performance from Yao and 27 points from Aaron Brooks.
3. The Lowry trade
Some might question how trading away your starting point guard for a backup is a good thing, but it was who was already on the team that made it a smart move. The offense was entrusted to second-year guard Aaron Brooks, and he didn’t disappoint. Although Brooks had his ups and downs during the regular season, the Rockets couldn’t have done what they did in the playoffs without Kyle Lowry’s toughness and Brooks.
2. Games 4 and 6 in Lakers series
The Game-1 victory on the road was nice, but the true greatness of this series was on display in Games 4 and 6; when the Rockets played without All-Star center Yao Ming. After Yao sustained a season-ending foot injury in Game 3, the Rockets could have surrendered to the injury demons that had haunted them all season. Instead, they stuck out their collective chest farther than ever, whipping the Lakers like they stole something from them.
1. Game 6 vs. Portland
This may not have meant as much to the Rockets as it did for their fans, but boy did it allow everyone in Houston let out a deep sigh of relief.
The players expected this, as they should. As Ron Artest put it, advancing to the second round was not the team’s goal. This was a moment for the fans, who waited 12 long years for this feeling to return. Their team was no longer a first-round failure and had higher expectations placed on them. As the former ‘voice of the Rockets’ Gene Peterson so eloquently said, ‘How sweet it is.’