The season is still very young for the Houston Rockets. And Luis Scola has been reliable. And that's about where the positive thinking stops.
Houston desperately needs a winning pro sports team. We're a mostly accepting and supportive bunch, tending to lay false hope on teams that really don't fit the winning mold. That said, what have we done to deserve the disastrous seasons of the Astros, Dynamo, Texans (they're sinking quick, let's be real) and now the Rockets? What did we do to offend the sports gods? We should probably blame the King Street Patriots.
Hair Balls hates to say we told you so, buuuut, we did tell you so. These ain't your older brothers' Rockets (oh, Olajuwon, Drexler, Smith, Elie, Cassell, Horry, how we miss thee!).
Yao is who we thought he would be. Carrying all that weight and size on those feet, something was bound to give. There was no wonder-surgery last year. One can't just erase all the minutes and years of pounding down on the hardwood on those brittle bones and expect all would be well and good after going under the knife. Reducing minutes at this point was a fruitless effort; the damage was already done and irreparable. "Mr.Glass" -- as Yao was called by A.J. Hoffman on ESPN Radio's "The Blitz" -- and Rockets fan may need to face reality: the productivity we were going to get out of Yao Ming may have come and gone.
The injury suffered last night was called an ankle sprain, on the opposite leg from where he had surgery, but it certainly seems fishy to us. Either that, or Yao's deal with the devil to grant him all that height and talent had an expiration date or some sort of fine print.
Enough of Yao, there are 13 other players on the roster.
WARNING: Negativity will mostly continue.
We will wholeheartedly admit that we were wrong about Scola. He's a reliable scorer (22.7 ppg) and a ferocious rebounder (11.4 rpg). But let's be honest, he's not the answer to the Rockets' prayers. He'd be an amazing No. 3 or 4 option, but right now he's No. 2, and he's not going to be winning ballgames in the clutch. He may grab a big offensive rebound or take a charge, but last-second fade-away from the low-post -- not going to happen.
Diehard Rockets fans will say, "Well, what about Kevin Martin and his 24.1 points per game, you damn know-nothings?!" Yes, Mr. Martin can score, but that's about the extent of his game. He can't create chances for his teammates, he can't rebound and he can't play defense. Coach Rick Adelman plays more defense than Martin, when it comes to explaining the sad state of the season.
There is one last bit of potential positivity: the beginning of the Rockets season schedule has been somewhat brutal. Three of the losses came against top Western Conference teams (L.A. Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and San Antonio Spurs). The rest of November gives the Rockets a bit of a fighting chance if they can somehow manage to figure out life A.Y. (After Yao). Six of the 10 teams the Rockets will play have a .500-record or worse.
This team managed to be respectable last year without Yao. There are still some halfway decent weapons on this roster. But the Western Conference is deep and big. Without a reliable center -- Brad Miller is hardly the worthy replacement -- and the requirement that Scola play big night after night, it may be asking too much.
We'd like to say we have answers, but we don't (do you? That's what the comments section is for.). The weight of the season seems to be falling on the shoulders of General Manager Daryl Morey. Can he somehow work some trade magic to bring in new life that can help on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor? Hard to say, because our negotiating pieces are sparse.
Yao isn't yet done for the season.
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Luis Scola has proved to be an Argentine one-man wrecking crew.
Kevin Martin will score, and maybe some day he'll realize that the floor has two ends to it, and that he should try to be effective on both of them.
And the rest of that roster will just need to work itself out and realize each and every one of them makes enough money that they need to help produce a halfway decent product. Otherwise, this already disappointing season is just going to get longer and more difficult to watch.