The last few seasons the Rockets have been plagued by a schizophrenic-like condition that has sent their fans way up, only to crash way back down.
Saturday that feeling returned to the fans, but the Rockets look fairly consistent in one thing: They simply can't shoot the ball.
71 points. At home. Against the Grizzlies.
Yao Ming hit 7-11 shots for 19 points, but the rest of the team shot under 31% (17-55 from the floor) and were hounded by an active pressure defense from Memphis as the Grizzlies beat the Rockets 79-71 at the Toyota Center.
Rest assured, other teams around the league will take notice.
Swarm Yao and keep the ball out of his hands. Pressure the guards. Make Yao's teammates beat you.
Saturday night, none of them could.
Despite 19 points from Steve Francis, he missed 10 of his 16 shots, including 0-5 from long range, and coughed it up 6 times. One of those turnovers was fatal -- a charging call with 44 seconds left with the Rockets trailing just four. Jim Jackson missed 8 of his 10 shots and Bostjan Nachbar pitched a shutout, going 0-5 from the field.
Combined, that's 31 shots -- some of those would have been much better off in Yao's hands.
But therein lies the problem. Blame his teammates for not getting him the ball, blame the Memphis pressure defense for keeping the ball away from him or blame Yao himself for not demanding the ball and freeing himself for the pass, but there is blame to be had somewhere for not getting your most deadly weapon on the floor (by a long shot) more shots.
Yao and Kelvin Cato combined to block 9 shots, with Kelvin rejecting 7 of those, but none of them could get a hand up in the face of Lorenzen Wright. The Memphis center came off the bench and really did damage, hitting 10-17 shots before fouling out in the fourth.
Jeff Van Gundy will definitely be making adjustments after this one.