Monday Nite Recap & Analysis
ROCKETS/JAZZ (Game 2): Rockets 98, Jazz 90
- Physical game, though not that surprising. The Jazz shot the ball well early, but the Rockets chipped away at the lead in the 2nd quarter thanks to Yao & McGrady.
- Houston looked to establish Yao in the post early. His turnaround jumper was smooth and he mixed a sweet little step-thru finger roll for good measure. When he got in foul trouble in the middle of the 2nd quarter, TMac began to take control. Even though TMac's outside shot was way off all nite, he found a way to deliver off the dribble with either contorting lay-ins, nice feeds to teammates, or drawing fouls. TMac shot only 9/29, but he got to line which helped him accrue 31 pts. Tracy also added 1o rebs, 5 assts & 2 stls.
- Houston missed a ton of 3pts. (4/24), but they neutralized it by crushing the offensive glass (17). Chuck Hayes did the bulk of the damage (7 off.) with his unparalled hustle & underrated strength--Chuck even added some unexpected offense to the mix, 12pts & 12rbs for Chuck. Another key factor tempering the Rockets' bad shooting nite was they got to the foul line 38 times, 21 more attempts than the Jazz.
- Boozer put on the performance of this young playoff season so far. 41 pts on 17/30, 12 rbs & 6 assts--elbow jumpers, turnarounds, drives, spins, & straight finishes. Like how he looked to drive on Yao a few times. He was stroking the elbow jumper all game which is a key staple of the flex. Harpring uses the baseline screens/cuts of the flex so well, and found offense off of it--Matt scored 14 pts, same as his Game 1 total. Mentioned before that he is very underrated bench player, just brings a physical presence to both ends of the floor.
-Okur struggled once again on offense--shot 2/9, he's a combined 4/23 for the series--but he did a really admirable job on defense, and particularly defending Yao tough. Memo's physical play was a big reason that Yao shot an unlikely 9/24 & Memo ended with 10 rebs, 6 assts & 4 blks. Again, the Jazz played pretty solid technical defense vs. Houston (Rockets shot only 36%), but they severely lessen their effectiveness by fouling too much. But this Utah's major flaw all season--they led the league in fouls.
- The Jazz are going to need Okur to find his touch in Salt Lake. They also have to find a way to cut down on the foul margin. I think the Jazz are in good shape because they have played the Rockets pretty tough so far, and they are headed back home. And they need to get Kirilenko's head in the right place, and Sloan has to consider letting AK47 guard TMac for extended minutes.
PISTONS/MAGIC (Game 2): Pistons 98, Magic 90
- Not really sure what to make of this second game where Det. lets Orlando stick around til the end. I guess I'm going to stick with the line of reasoning that the Pistons aren't all that threatened by Orlando. And this team like to motivates itself by playin' the "No Respect" card, but they are the clear fav in this series, so they can't use that card.
- Billups took over in the 2nd half when the Pistons needed his steady guidance. Chauncey hit some from outside & added a few key drives to hold off the Magic--Billups had 21, 8 assts, & only 1 TO. Rip led the way with 22 and Tayshaun pitched in with 18 (3/3 from 3pt.). 2nd game in a row where all Pistons starters score in double figures. Detroit rotated their collection of quality bigs on Dwight, and frustrated him all nite.
- Hedo had a hot hand from the perimeter for the 2nd game in a row, 22 pts on 10/14. He became Orlando's go-to-guy in the 2nd half-- they started to run isos for him, but he was more effective when he was getting set up for his jumper. Darko once again was a solid presence in the lane. Displaying his nice little hook in the lane, he finished with 10 pts on 5/9, 6 rbs & 3 blks. Grant Hill squeezed out a vintage all-around game. He was very active on both ends of the floor & pitched in 21, 8 rebs, 4 assts & 9/13 FTs.
- All the Pistons have to do is stay focused to end this series quickly. But I expect the Magic to take one in O-Town with the way they hung tough in Detroit and Detroit's propensity to sleepwalk, like they did last year in Milwaukee for a game.