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News » Rockets seek consistent stops Juggled lineup means execution on defense vital

Rockets seek consistent stops Juggled lineup means execution on defense vital

Rockets seek consistent stops Juggled lineup means execution on defense vital OKLAHOMA CITY - The game was tight, with the home team holding a slim halftime lead. Then the run that would take over and define the game began and seemed to just go on and on, growing until it reached 17-0.

The game was never the same. The Oklahoma City Thunder had dominated long enough that the Milwaukee Bucks had no chance.

The Rockets , who have been on the wrong end of similar runs in losing consecutive home games last week, face the Thunder tonight agonizingly familiar with the difficulty of stopping one of those runs.

The Mavericks took over Wednesday's game with a 26-0 run. The Spurs went on a 14-0 roll Friday as the Rockets missed their first 16 shots of the second half.

The Rockets , retooled this season with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady out, have found that executing with precision with a well-defined plan of attack is as valuable when an opposing team is on a roll as in those late-game situations they have often cited.

Foundation shaken

"We're all guys that were put together around two guys," guard Aaron Brooks said. "Those two guys are out so we're all trying to figure out our roles and getting better at them and learning as we play."

This was thought to be the challenge of finishing games without a well-defined, go-to scorer. It has become a familiar ache of growing pains far more often. The Rockets have had to learn to execute on both ends of the floor when execution becomes its most difficult, in those closing minutes and the crucial minutes when an opponent is on a roll.

With so many players asked to do more than they ever have, the Rockets have been too inconsistent to know what will work when they need something to work.

"That's what we're trying to figure out," coach Rick Adelman said. "It's changed from game to game. It's been somebody different each game, who has maybe got it going.

"Right now, we're searching. Guys have not been consistent game in and game out.

"It's not just the end of the game. It's that stretch in the third quarter (on Friday). We needed a basket, we needed somebody to take over. Everybody had a chance. No one did it."

When pressed, established teams know what they will want to run and usually who will be asked to step up. The Rockets can only guess.

"Teams that have been playing together for seven, eight, 10 years, they have been successful, they have won playoff series, made it to the Finals, won championships," Luis Scola said. "We are starting something new here. It will take some time. Probably, it didn't come right away for them either.

A long process

"We as a team, we still need to decide what type of team we want to be and how we want to play those times of the game, how you want to manage those runs the other teams have, how you want to close games, what we are good at, what we are not."

The Rockets had made those steps, finishing games with Yao keying the offense or by taking advantage of opportunities created by the defensive attention he attracted.

Even on the other end, he anchored the defense with discipline and with strengths and weaknesses so clear there was no ambiguity about defensive game plans.

"We were building something then had a little step back because of the situation," Scola said. "We can't be crying about the situation all year long."

If the past few games - the Rockets' and the Thunder's rout of the Bucks - have demonstrated anything, it might be that they have to deal with it far more often than just a few late minutes of close games.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 2, 2009


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