Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good record against bad teams

December has been kind to the Rockets, but mostly because of the schedule. They are 7-2 for the month, but the competition has been less than stellar. True, they beat two good teams - Denver and Atlanta, both at Toyota Center. The rest of the month has been a romp through the Weak Sisters of the Poor of the Western Conference. Road losses to the Clippers and Grizzlies spoiled an otherwise excellent month.

7-2 is a good record, but as I've said before, to ignore the records of the opponents is to stick one's head in the sand. Other than the Nuggets and Hawks, the rest of the teams they faced have a combined record of 73-138, an anemic .346 winning percentage, and the Rockets lost to two of those teams.

One bright spot has been the emergence of Aaron Brooks at the point. He still has a lot to learn, but is as quick as a hiccup, and plays with a lot of grit. Whatever he gives up on defense because of his height he seems to make up for on offense.

Yes, the injury bug still bites, and that sucker can sting. In the road loss to the Clippers, Tracy McGrady was hobbled and Ron Artest missed the game completely. McGrady and Artest both missed the road loss to the Grizzlies. Rafer Alston was injured in a home win against the Clippers and has missed the last three games. Brent Barry, who was slated to be a staple in the rotation, has missed all of December with a torn leg muscle.

I used to play a lot of B-Ball, strictly club stuff and I was never very good, but it did teach me a great deal about injuries, mostly ankle injuries. They take time to heal completely, and not just a little time. Six weeks for a severe sprain is optimistic to return to the court, but the pain may not go away for months at least. Same for the knees. Now that I am beyond my basketball days, the ankle pain is chronic. Basketball is a great game and provides valuable exercise, but it's hell on the wheels.

Again, the report card shows an Incomplete. When everyone gets healthy and the competition improves, we'll see where they stand. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pet peeve

I hope I get my point across with this one. Got that? I HOPE. Not HOPEFULLY. That is the most misused word in sports interviews.

When someone says, "Hopefully, we will win the game," they are actually saying, "We will win the game, and while we are winning, we will be hopeful." It is putting an adverb where a verb should be. What they mean to say is, "I hope we will win the game." Equally correct would be , "I am hopeful that we will win the game." Also correct would be "We are going into the game hopefully." You may substitute the words "full of hope" for hopefully.

I know, the incorrect use of the word is listed in the dictionary as an option, but it is considered non-standard English. A word of advice to all athletes and coaches: Keep it simple. Don't use the word hopefully at all. It is rarely correct and just makes you sound like you never cracked a book in college. Just say "I hope."

Hopefully, you all will get the message. :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Division Leaders

The Rockets are 12-7 and lead the Southwest Division by 1/2 game over the New Orleans Hornets. Why do I feel like they are a mediocre team? Is it the inconsistency, winning against a good team one day and losing to a bad one the next?

Is it the injuries? T-Mac is out for a few weeks. In the press, everyone that should know says that McGrady's pain must be a booger to keep him off the court. OK. I guess I believe them. Shane Battier is back, but Shane and the coaches are limiting his minutes and games played for safety's sake. We've all seen him limp through games that mattered and ones that didn't. If he can play, Shane will be there. Brent Barry will miss a couple more weeks with a muscle tear in his leg. That won't do anything to help his 30% shooting percentage for the season. Ron Artest is nursing an ankle sprain. There is little doubt that Ron gives his all in every game. The concern is that he has had a reputation of playing offense as he sees fit rather than trying to blend into a system. Coach Adelman has not complained publicly about it, but one has to wonder if that isn't the reason for Artest's 34% shooting to date with the Rockets. In Adelman's system, teamwork counts in getting open shots.

I say we speak kindly of the injured and be glad that the Rockets that are available are on a pace to get good playoff seeding. If everyone gets healthy by mid-season... Well, look out, NBA!