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Old 11-12-2006, 11:11 AM   #1
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Default Miami vs Houston game thread

it's not the matchup that it used to be, but hopefully its still a good game. think of it as a passing of the torches for 2 sets of players

the rising of Yao vs. a declining Shaq
ailing Tmac vs. the new NBA darling Dwade.

shaq is just returning from an injury, and yao has always played him well, even when diesel was healthy. add that to yao's increased strength and stamina as well as his dominance that he found after the all star break last year and has continued into this year and we should see yao handling shaq with little problem.

tmac has been less impressive this season so far. he has admitted he's lost a step; however, he continues to be effective in other aspects of the game, just not scoring. dwade is as quick as ever, he will probably handle tmac very well.

yao and dwade will continue to do their thing. this game will largely hinge on the role players.
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Old 11-12-2006, 12:07 PM   #2
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Yao's fitness helps his game with Rockets
Shaq still stands as gold standard for NBA big men

MIAMI - This sort of thing had seemed over, part of the recent past before everyone moved on to the next story line.

Besides, the NBA had all but outlawed centers, anyway, reducing the annual showdowns of Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal from throwbacks to anachronisms.

The whole thing seemed very 2004, an era ago by sports standards.

They never met last season, while the Rockets crumbled and the Miami Heat, led by a blur of a guard, Dwyane Wade, rose to NBA champions.

But then Yao began this season on a roll and dismantled the Knicks on Friday. O'Neal came back from a bruised right knee Friday.

Suddenly, the Rockets game at Miami tonight, while offering the first test of a week stepping up in weight class, could give Yao a chance to measure himself against the reigning heavyweight champ.

"That's a big challenge," Yao said. "I like it. I think he is special. He is a totally special player. No man is like him. No player looks like him."

The same, of course, has been said of Yao. The top scoring center in the NBA this season and last, Yao's average of 26.2 points per game is a career high. His 59.6 percent shooting is better than any among the top 50 scorers.

Yao has been so effective, Tracy McGrady called himself a complementary player and repeatedly called Yao "the best center in the league," without forgetting who was waiting in Miami tonight.

"We all know Shaq's not what he used to be," McGrady said. "He doesn't move as quick as he used to, and he was out for a few games. He may be a little rusty.

"Hopefully, Yao will have that upper hand, stay out of foul trouble, get Shaq in foul trouble and we come out with a win.

"My man's come a long ways. He works extremely hard. He wants to be great."

The Rockets tend to celebrate Yao's development and success because they see the work he puts in to get there.

"He works harder than anyone on our team," Shane Battier said after Yao led Friday's win. "He stays late. Games like this don't happen by accident."

The next film sessions likely will focus on Yao's turnovers and ways to avoid the foul trouble that has slowed him on the Rockets' last road trip to New Orleans, Memphis and Milwaukee.

Yao had eight turnovers against the Knicks. New York's most effective defense was with 6-8 Renaldo Balkman working to beat Yao to position and guards rushing to surround him.

The Heat, with O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, likely won't go as small. But in Wade, Gary Payton and James Posey, they have quick-handed defenders to harass him.

When asked if Friday's was Yao's best game, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said: "In some areas, but in other areas, not. He'll continue to strive to do what he does really well and we're going to continue to strive to work on those areas that will help us if he can improve a little bit."

His turnovers and foul trouble are issues, but if Yao can force Miami to double-team him, it would open opportunities for teammates, chances the Rockets' need while McGrady is struggling with his shot.

"It's crazy to me because if I go out and have a subpar game and I don't shoot the ball well or play well and I get 13 points, every team I've been on, we're going to lose the game," McGrady said. "The role is kind of reversed now. I'm the distributor now and I like that role."

Even if O'Neal is not scoring the way he used to he averaged 13.7 points in his three games he commands double teams, and when Wade drives to the basket, defenders cannot leave O'Neal to help.

The Rockets are beginning to enjoy the same benefits and the hope it can stand up against the center Yao once called "the mountain in my way."

"He's really carrying us right now," guard Rafer Alston said.

He's doing what the top centers always have done, even if they are no longer fashionable.

jonathan.feigen@chron.com




BIG WEEK AHEAD

By the end of the week, the Rockets could be the league's foremost experts on the teams to be considered championship contenders or part of the conversation themselves.

Beginning tonight in Miami, the Rockets play the past three NBA champions this week with the Heat tonight, the Spurs on Tuesday and the Pistons Saturday. They host the rising Bulls on Thursday.

"If we're going to be a team to reckon with and considered, you're going to have to play the best," guard Rafer Alston said. "Also, we have to beat them. If we do that, it makes a statement to the league, we are a serious bunch"

Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, however, said that other than preparing a game plan, the emphasis is on how the Rockets player, rather than who they play, especially so early in the season.

"I think every game is hard in this league, I really do," Van Gundy said. "Every team poses problems. You worry about the opponent because you have to play them, but we just have to play and try to improve. If we do that, play good basketball, don't turn it over 19 times, share it and work at it, that's what I want to see. Who we play, I'm not really concerned with at this point"



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
McGRADY CONTRIBUTES

Though Tracy McGrady had just 10 points on Friday and is making just 39.6 percent of his shots, the Rockets praised him for his offensive play overall on Friday as a playmaker.

"The thing I like about Mac is if something's working, he'll just keep going to it," Jeff Van Gundy said.

"Tracy only got 12 looks (Friday), but Tracy shared the ball," Rockets guard Rafer Alston said. "He led us in assists. It shows what kind of player he is. When you have an unselfish star, you love it. He could have taken 24 shots. It's not like we don't have a bunch of plays to run for Tracy.

"When Tracy gets it going, the sky's the limit for us"



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HANGING ON

The Rockets' problem in the past two games, losing much of the big leads they built, might be not be too great a concern considering they might not be building many huge leads with the schedule they face this week. It also does indicate that they played well enough to lead by as much as 23 and 19 the past two games.

"It's better than the alternative," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "It's better to try to finish games (better) than explain how to come back from 20 down. But we need to tighten the ship, focus on finishing games. We're capable of doing it. But it's a mindset. We need to get the mindset better"

For the Rockets, who regularly started each half slowly last season, the fast starts do represents improvement. But even if they have leads not as great as against Milwaukee and New York, there was a sense that they could not let up after any run.

"The last two games, we were ready to play," center Yao Ming said. "We played very well at the beginning of the game and the beginning of the second half. But we cannot finish the game. When we play good teams like the San Antonio Spurs, like the next game against Miami, very successful teams, you cannot leave any chance for them. I don't know if we can get a lead, but if we get a lead, we cannot give any chance"
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:04 PM   #3
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This should be a very interesting game.
The battle of the past-present and future dominant centers - ShaqxYao.
I say Houston by 4.
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:07 PM   #4
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:10 PM   #5
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:11 PM   #6
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remember when ESPN used to make it up like it was ali vs frazier? Like for the first two seasons they actually played against eachother they would call it Shaq vs Yao 1, Shaq vs Yao 2 and so on..

game is on at 8 tonight on ESPN

we should be able to get one on the Rockets, unless Tracy and Yao play well i can see the Rockets winning.
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:25 PM   #7
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I don't care to make a prediction, because it should be a close game and I don't want to jinx my guys, but I like their chances.

Wade always scares me because he not only has superstar talent, but he's got incredible quickness, which has a tendency to cause the Rockets problems. I think the game is decided by whether Wade goes off or not, because I doubt Shaq is going to outplay Yao, and there's not another player I see the Rockets struggling to contain. That is, unless Antoine starts draining 4's.
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:29 PM   #8
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I think Shaq will give Yao problems. He's the only player in the league that can block Yao's throw-around fade away.
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:37 PM   #9
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T-Mac V.S Wade
Yao V.S Shaq
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatboy11
I think Shaq will give Yao problems. He's the only player in the league that can block Yao's throw-around fade away.

I know Shaq rejected him twice on that shot in their preseason matchup, but wasn't that just 1, maybe 2 games after Yao returned from letting his toe heal? I don't think he was getting a usual amount of lift on it, but I could be wrong. Either way I'm not too worried about Yao tonight.
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Old 11-12-2006, 02:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClutchCityReturns
I know Shaq rejected him twice on that shot in their preseason matchup, but wasn't that just 1, maybe 2 games after Yao returned from letting his toe heal? I don't think he was getting a usual amount of lift on it, but I could be wrong. Either way I'm not too worried about Yao tonight.
Me either.

I'm more worried about how well Tracy and the rest of the guys are going to play.
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Old 11-12-2006, 07:30 PM   #12
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game about to start.
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Old 11-12-2006, 07:42 PM   #13
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I love these Shaq vs Yao matches. I still remember their first one like it was yesterday, only because it had a perfect ending for Yao and the Rockets. Anyways, they didn't play each other last season so it'll be interesting to see them go at it one more time. IMO, this is the best rivalry one on one match up in the NBA.
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Old 11-12-2006, 08:11 PM   #14
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Rockets 140
Heat 90




Let's do this!
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Old 11-12-2006, 08:15 PM   #15
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on espn btw
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