Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rockets 92, Bobcats 62

Oh man, why couldn’t we have played the 76ers tonight? At least we were in it for a quarter against the Spurs; this one was just horrible from the giddy-up, and it had all kinds of bad omens right away. Matt Carroll and Brevin Knight were both DNP’s—Matt was still out with Jake Delhomme’s Disease (a.k.a. nerve/ligament damage) and Knight was suffering from calf problems, although Coach Bickerstaff might have just been giving him a time-out.

Other bad signs: Emeka Okafor picked up two fouls on Yao Ming almost immediately, so Bickerstaff sicced Primoz Brezec on Yao, and he immediately picked up two fouls. Uh-oh, I’m afraid that only leaves…yup, here he comes bounding in, like a big, happy puppy dog…Jake Voskuhl. Folks, it’s never a good sign when Jake makes his first appearance just 4:30 into the game. And then when he immediately picked up two fouls, I was in a full-fledged panic, because Plan D I guess would be Melvin Ely, and Plan E is Raymond Felton standing on Sean May’s shoulders.

More bad signs: we were down 31-17 at the first quarter, had stood around and watched Tracy McGrady and Yao pour it on, and even let Juwan Howard have his way with us. And you know it’s bad when play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin starts talking in really low tones, sounding like a guest at someone’s Thanksgiving Dinner after the host’s 15-year-old daughter has just announced she’s pregnant and then angrily stormed out of the room. Coach Bickerstaff called timeout with three seconds left at halftime just to chew the team out; my lacrosse coach did this exact same thing once, except it was at the end of a game in which we had blown a lead. I’ll never forget it: with, like, two minutes left he called time out and said, “I don’t have anything to tell you, I just called this time out to make sure you took a moment to let it sink in that you completely blew a game against a terrible team.” Ouch. Perhaps I never recovered from that one. Speaking of high school, the game had completely devolved by the third quarter into a random shoot-around. The scrubs were in, and the game looked like my old gym classes when the teacher would just announce that today would be “free-shoot day,” and then he’d toss out a bunch of balls and go lock himself in his office and smoke.

Anyway, this game really drove home how horrible a mistake it was for the Knicks to let go of Jeff Van Gundy. I’m trying to remember why now they even did it? It’s kind of like when I think back on all of my college roommates: I remember hating most of them at the time, but now I can’t even remember why. Perhaps the Knicks were just letting Jeff go for his own sake; no one, but no one, takes a loss harder than him. In fact, no one takes a win harder than him. The Rockets were up 52-31 at the half, but to look at Jeff standing there, beleaguered and arms folded, you would have thought a bus full of nuns had just exploded in front of him. And he’s really grafted himself to this team; they’re actually even taking on his appearance and mannerisms. I could swear McGrady never used to have those bags under his sad eyes, and look at his hair! T-Mac has completely stopped giving it any kind of style; it’s probably only a matter of days before it starts falling out on top. Mark my words: if Kirk Snyder can get healthy, and the team can figure out how to get rid of Bonzi Wells (perhaps another “accidental” elbow from Mutombo?), JVG will once again do more with less than anyone.

The Bobcats need to figure things out. I know this part of the schedule is tough, but they only played on Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday this week—they should be rested and energetic. Instead, they didn’t just look like a bad team, they looked like a bad old team. Except for Raymond Felton (16 points, 6 assists, and a bunch of fouls drawn) there was little movement, and the team’s shooting percentage was a decent ACT score. Felton was our only guy in double figures. Okafor had a double-single. Had Gerald Wallace not made two free throws, there’d be very little evidence in the box score that he even played. Morrison shot 1-for-11 and nobody looked more miserable on the bench…except maybe Van Gundy.

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