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2/1/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Yao's nice touch contagious in win over vexed Kings
2/1/2003 - Houston Chronicle
With recent wins come expectations that aren't met on road
2/1/2003 - Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee: Sports
Kings For A Day
Offense clicks again as Rockets steamroll Webber-less Kings
By Clutch

Yao Ming was outstanding, but Eddie has not played well this season at all, shooting under 40% from the floor. So you have to prop the man when he comes out strong, knocking down 22 points (including a pair of triples), 8 boards and a pair of blocks.
The Kings star point guard was held to just 4-16 shooting from the floor and just one assist to his mates in 32 minutes of play.
I haven't been able to write much about the team lately due to increased time demands, but I've been absolutely disgusted by the Rockets play over the last month.

Selfish guard play, non-existent passing attack, terrible offensive game plan, dismal coaching decisions, a Yao Ming rookie wall and poor play from the four.

So the question is obvious: What the hell just happened?

After scoring 121 points in rolling over the Timberwolves on Friday, the Rockets put on another offensive clinic, ripping the Sacramento Kings 105-89 Sunday in the Compaq Center.

Eddie Griffin and Yao Ming set the tone with spectacular play early on, combining to score 19 points on 9-11 shooting in the first period as the Rockets built a 29-9 edge and never looked back.

Sure, the Kings were without Chris Webber, but the way the Rockets played today, it seemed it didn't matter who the Kings put out on the floor - the Rockets were winning it.

It's absolutely puzzling. This team averaged 90 points, 41% shooting, and most signficantly just 17 assists (to go with 15 turnovers) a game in the first 14 contests of January. Suddenly, the last two games the Rockets are averaging 113 points, 55% shooting and 27 dimes with the exact same number of turnovers.

What gives?

No, the Rockets aren't just "knocking down their shots". They're getting better shots. They're whipping the ball around and playing very unselfishly. It starts with the guards, and they're getting it done. Cuttino Mobley played within himself today, letting shots come to him off kickouts from Yao or passes from the perimeter, and he responded by knocking down 9-11 shots. Absolutely huge.

Griffin finished with a big game, and it's about time. 22 points, 8 boards and a pair of blocks. But it was how he was scoring. He wasn't just chucking up a slew of triples (though he still managed to get off a handful). Eddie was knocking down turnarounds from 4 to 14 feet out, and that's exactly what the team needs from him.

Yao himself had 6 assists -- a career high -- to go with 18 points, 11 boards and 4 blocks. He abused Vlade Divac in the first half, hitting 7-8 shots for 14 points, 7 boards and 4 assists. He capped his great night late in the second half with a beautiful pass over two defenders to an all-alone Steve Francis underneath for his 6th assist.

Speaking of Francis, he too came up big, finishing with 21 points and 8 assists.

Terence Morris played extremely well off the bench also, putting up 12 points, 7 boards and one highlight rejection of Gerald Wallace. You can see why he's been keeping Bostjan Nachbar on the bench.

The only real negative question was who was guarding Peja Stojakovic (31 points) as the dude had 19 points in the third quarter and was wide open underneath several times for layups.

Overall, a great performance from the Rockets. I'm not holding my breath, but lets hope - just hope - that the embarrassing display in the second half against the Mavericks, at home and on national TV, was what the doctor ordered: A rock bottom for this cocky team to hit so hard that it realizes their "team play" has been abysmal.

Clutch can be reached at and also can be followed on Twitter