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[Blog Update] Sleeping through the Superbowl
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February 10, 2008 in Blog Updates

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Willing and Dealing in the West

Well, it looks like teams are getting ready to make that playoff push.

The teams in our conference have been busy making deals. The Lakers got a good trade by picking up Pau Gasol. They needed another big man to replace Andrew Bynum and I think it’s going to be good for them. The Lakers are going to have a good front line when Bynum returns from his injury.

The Suns, meanwhile, just shocked the world by getting Shaquille O’Neal. He’s a pretty big contrast to that team. But they feel he can help the team. The West is just so tough that teams are looking to do anything to get better.

How do these moves effect our team? Well, it makes my job tougher since all these contending teams have more big men. Gasol is going to be a difficult matchup in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense with Kobe Bryant. And then you throw in Shaq. That’s tough.

Teams are definitely trying to find a way to get this championship.

Wild West

The playoff race in the Western Conference is definitely tight. Right now, there are 10 potential teams that could be right there. We’re all pretty close to each other.

Knowing that, we’ve got to stay hungry. We control our own destiny. We just have to keep winning. Be consistent and win.

We can’t have any letdowns because you can slip out of this race with a bad streak. We have to take care of business and win a fairly good percentage of the games we have left.

That would put us in great position to get into these playoffs.

Super Bowl Party

We had a Super Bowl party on Sunday in Minneapolis, but I didn’t make it.

I had worked out with our strength and conditioning coach, David Macha, and he wore me out pretty good. I went back to the room with about an hour before the Super Bowl party, but I dosed off. I woke up midway through the second quarter.

I could have gone down at that point. But I was so comfortable in my bed that I didn’t go. I heard the guys had a lot of fun. But I was so tired from my workout, I didn’t find a way to make it outside of my bed.

I closed my eyes during the second half, but I saw who won. It was an unbelievable fourth quarter. I didn’t see much of the first. But that fourth quarter was great. No one expected what the Giants did. Everybody expected the Giants to make it competitive. But Eli Manning was great.

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[Chron] On the Post-Philly Streak
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February 9, 2008 in NBA 07-08 Season

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A speech from Chuck Hayes (44) helped spur the Rockets.

Rock bottom becomes launching point
Team meeting, 9-1 run follow day of infamy: a date with Philadelphia
By FRAN BLINEBURY –Link

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You can look at video and analyze stats. You can search for trends and try to read body language. You can point to this critical basket or that crucial stop.

There are probably a zillion ways to explain how an NBA season has gone from over-the-cliff to over-the-top, how the same team could turn from sinking rocks to soaring Rockets.

Yao Ming has one word: “Philadelphia.”

It was Jan. 15, the night the Rockets hit rock bottom. It was the night when the winless-in-2008 Sixers used a 37-point fourth quarter to sprint out of a 16-point second-half hole.

What should have been a comfortable win for the home team turned into an embarrassing 111-107 loss, leaving the Rockets just one game over the .500 mark. And a whack with a sledgehammer couldn’t have done more to get everyone’s attention.

“It was the bottom,” Yao said. “A sweep by Philadelphia? It’s unbelievable for me. The only thing I can remember being worse is the first year of the (Charlotte) Bobcats in the league and we were swept by them. It’s the same thing.”

But the Rockets have responded with a 9-1 record since then and might have saved their season.

“It was no more excuses after that game,” Yao said. “On a road trip (Dec. 10), we lost in Philadelphia. From my standpoint, we should never go and find an excuse for ourselves for losing. But obviously, you’re a human being. You’re going to say, ‘OK, it’s a road trip. When
they come to our house, we can beat them. We can give them payback.’

“Then they beat us again. It was a horrible feeling. It was really, really hitting us. I don’t need to say too much more. But the next 10 games, I think, already told people how we care.”

Following the sting of the home loss to the Sixers, the Rockets eschewed most of a regular practice to watch video of the flop and had a team meeting.

“Players, coach, everyone,” Yao said. “We were all thinking that the season is getting away if we do not start right now. It was Chuck (Hayes) who said (in the meeting), it’s about how we care about our careers. How we care about being professionals.

“Everybody started thinking about that. Chuck is the guy who spoke out. I don’t know I should tell you that. But it’s a good thing. It was from Chuck, a guy who does not do much talking. It meant something to hear those words from him.”

Sustaining focus

Hayes didn’t go into the meeting intending to have a “win one for the Gipper” moment. It just poured out of him.”I can’t remember exactly what I said,” Hayes said. “I don’t know if I was especially emotional. But there were a lot of emotions in that room.

“I just told everybody what was on my mind. I told them that we have to play like every game means something to us. Look, right now we’re nine games above .500, and we’re still barely in the last playoff spot. The Western Conference is hard. Nobody was going to give anything to us. We have to take it.”

During the winning streak, the Rockets have solidified their defense. They’re helping each other out more. They’ve been piling up 23.6 assists per game, pulling down 45.5 rebounds per game. Most important, they’ve been keeping their focus throughout games.

“That Philly game was the one when we really were in control and the way we lost it,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We had nine or 10 turnovers and I think five of them were post-entry passes. That’s just the relaxation and casualness about finishing the game off.

“It’s a game we should not have lost. People talk about New Orleans. But I don’t know if you can talk about that game, because they’ve beaten a lot of teams down the stretch and they’ve got the personnel. But we basically let Philadelphia back into the game, and we succumbed to it. I think it was a rude awakening to our guys when we lost that game. I think the team just has a tendency to relax and that game really showed it.”

A Philly flash point

What the last 10 games have shown is growth.”What the terminology is that’s working, I guess I would agree with it,” Adelman said. “But I don’t know why it would take so long. Everybody knew what the West was going to be like. This conference is tough. You might win 46 games and not be in the playoffs. We better realize that. No one is coming back to us. We have to go and catch them.”

Before they could do that, the Rockets had to catch themselves in free fall and pull the cord on the emergency chute. Now they’re learning to chin themselves over the bar.

“What I like about the team in the last couple of games is that we are playing strong during some minutes and not coming apart,” Yao said. “(Thursday) night in the first half, we got a lead and then they came back to one. Then in the third quarter, we came right back out strong and got a 10- or 12-point lead.

“We talked to each other, during timeouts, at any time in the game, when the play stopped. We talked to each other about defense, about making passes, about rebounding. We said we needed to pay attention. The game is not over yet. They will try to fight back. The game will not be easy. Over the last 10 games, they have not been easy, but we have won most.”

It’s a turnabout that can be traced to one game, one night, one word.

“Philadelphia,” Yao said.

The rallying cry for a season.

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Hayes enjoys reunion
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November 29, 2007 in Former Teams

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, Kentucky
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From Kentucky to similar paths to NBA, Azubuike shares bond with Rockets forward

OAKLAND, CALIF. — Chuck Hayes and Kelenna Azubuike always knew what the NBA didn’t. They just had to convince each other.Both believe the other belonged in the NBA. But when the NBA was missing so badly, letting the Kentucky teammates go unselected through the 2005 draft, both also knew that the events of Thursday, when they finally played against one another in the NBA, would eventually come.

So Hayes and Azubuike did what they could to make it happen, encouraging one another through the doubts to become two of the most accomplished NBA Development League graduates ever and opponents Thursday night in Oracle Arena when the Rockets met the Warriors.

Both went from Kentucky to the D-League to Rockets training camp. Both were cut by the Rockets. But Hayes made it back three months later, became a starter and signed a four-year contract. He also became a role model for Azubuike, as he always had been.

“Me and Kelenna, we have a bond,” Hayes said. “I was his host when he came to Kentucky. I like to think I’m the one who got him there. When he got cut by the Rockets, he asked me, ‘Should I go overseas?’ I told him, ‘Man, you’re close. You’re right there. You’re knocking on the door. You just need the right system.’ He got called up. Next thing you know, he’s in the rotation and he’s here.

“Too bad I couldn’t get him to Houston, but he’s found a home here in the Bay Area, and I’m happy for him.”

Azubuike, who became the excess guard in the Rockets’ 2006 training camp after the late addition of Bonzi Wells, is flourishing in the Warriors’ high-speed style, averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. In the seven games when Stephen Jackson was suspended, he averaged 17.1 points on 47.7 percent shooting.

Just three seasons after no NBA team drafted him, he has the option to become a free agent next summer and could be a coveted acquisition once back on the market.

“No, he won’t get a cut,” Azubuike said of Hayes. “He’s not all the way responsible. But he helped me out.

“He was my host on the (recruiting) visit. He showed me a good time. He talked to me later about playing in the D-League. I guess it’s pretty accurate. He is responsible.”

It was not a surprise that Hayes, a 6-6 power forward who did not score, was not drafted. Azubuike was something of a surprise to be in the draft at all, leaving Kentucky early and then missing most of the draft workouts and camp with a groin injury.

“I was watching for him as well and I felt bad that he didn’t get drafted,” Hayes said. “I knew all he needed was an opportunity. He had to go through a couple teams, but he’s found stability here in Golden State.”

Said Azubuike: “They thought of him as undersized, but I knew he’d make it.”

It turned out both were right, at least about the other.

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Calfornia Fitness opening
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September 15, 2007 in Appearances

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Chuck and some of the other NBA players from the charity game were with Yao at the opening of his new 24 Hour Fitness in Bejing.  Thanks to Pryuen at Clutchfans for the links to the pics.

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Charity Gala Game Time & Channel
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September 12, 2007 in Appearances

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Thought I would post the details of how you can watch the charity event in China this week. The game will start at 7:30 am ET Friday morning and will be shown on CCTV5. There are a few different programs that will allow you to stream the game, ppstream is the most popular.
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Yao/Nash Charity Gala – Press Conference
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September 12, 2007 in Appearances

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Article Link about Yao translated by pryuen at Clutchfans.net

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The entire Houston Rockets team has started all out practicing. Chuck Hayes said: “I have been training together with our team mates these 2 days, and I’ve a first hand experience of the abilities of Luis Scola. He has excellent footwork in the interior, and his shooting touch out from the 15-feet ranges is also great.”

photos from sohu.com and cimg2.163.com

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Men of Charity
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August 30, 2007 in Appearances

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Yao, Nash, Anthony to play charity game in Beijing

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BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — A charity basketball game featuring NBA star center Yao Ming, two-time regular season MVP Steve Nash and Carmelo Anthony will be played here on Sept. 14, according to the organizers.

The Chinese men’s national team will play against a team composed of NBA stars in this charity game, which was launched by Yao and Nash, with all the incomes to be donated to help improve educational environment for poor children in Western China.

“More than half a year ago, Nash mentioned this idea to me and I thought it is great. Then we began to make it into reality,” said Yao at the press conference.

“I promise you that every penny of the money we get from this game will be duly used on poor children in Western China,” Yao added.

Nash, who woke up at 5 am in Phoenix City for the press conference, said on telephone that he felt very happy to launch this game together with Yao and do something for poor children in China.

Other NBA players to participate in this charity game are Baron Davis of the Golden State Warriors, Leandro Barbosa of the Phoenix Suns, Yao’s Houston Rockets teammates Bonzi Wells, Chuck Hayes, Mike James and 2007 NBA top draft pick Greg Oden of the Portland Blazers and No. 4 draft pick Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies.

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What to do? What to do?
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July 21, 2007 in Fan Forums

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With the addition of Steve Francis to the Rockets roster, there are now a possible 21 players to choose from. (that is if Deke and Chuck are signed). Only Morey knows what options are available for trades so the Rockets fans are all asking, “Who will be on the team come October?” Mogrod at Clutchfans.net

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made this photo that absolutely represents today (given that the last Harry Potter book was released at midnight).

I give you the PotterRockets!

PotterRockets

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Thrown under the bus?
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May 8, 2007 in Off-Season

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I sometimes get the feeling Tracy McGrady says what he thinks he’s supposed to say instead of what he actually believes. On Monday, some truth slipped out.

At least I think that’s what happened. I actually have no idea why he’d throw a teammate under the bus the way he did. Maybe that’s his definition of leadership.

It happened when McGrady was asked one of those routine questions about what the Rockets could do to improve. He could have said a dozen different things that would have offended no one. He could even have said that he needed to get better.

Instead, he pointed a finger at perhaps the hardest-working, most decent player on the team — power forward Chuck Hayes.

“I think we’ve got to add a couple of pieces to our team — athleticism at the four (power forward) position,” he said.

Ouch. He also said the Rockets needed a backup point guard and “another guy who can create when I’m out of the game.” Those are safe, vague recommendations. Those recommendations hurt no one.

Question of heart

He’s right that the Rockets need a better power forward. They also need a starting point guard and a lot more depth. They’ve got more needs than they’re likely to fill in one offseason.But their No. 1 need would be for Hayes to transfer some of his heart to McGrady. If all the Rockets had more Chuck Hayes in them, they would have spent Monday dealing with the Golden State Warriors instead of answering questions about an uncertain offseason.

Let’s begin the postmortem there. It’ll lead into a discussion of Jeff Van Gundy’s future, but first a word about McGrady.

Of all the things that should be troubling the Rockets about their playoff loss to the Utah Jazz, McGrady’s name is atop the list.

No one can argue with his numbers (25.3 points, 7.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game in the playoffs). No one can argue that the Rockets need to get better players around him.

McGrady must take charge

But it would also be hard to argue that he’s going to be the guy to lead the Rockets to a championship based on his playoff performances in 2005 and 2007.Against Utah, Games 6 and 7 were there to be won. McGrady failed to deliver either time. And let’s be clear about this: It’s on him.

That’s who he’s supposed to be. That’s why the Rockets wanted him in the first place. They believed he’d take over games the same way Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan did. He wants to be considered alongside Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, but so far he hasn’t delivered the way those guys have.

Instead, he settled for jump shots when he should have been relentless in the paint to force the action. He made no plays on the defensive end, either. Except for Game 5, he didn’t change the outcome.

McGrady said all the right things Monday about the hurt he felt and about gearing up for another run next season. Those are just words. The Rockets are kidding themselves if they’re not looking at McGrady differently these days.

Read the rest of this entry →

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Rockets’ bench guys know the heat is on
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April 28, 2007 in NBA 06-07 Season

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Tracy McGrady, the Houston Rockets’ superstar who has never won an NBA playoff series, told the media before the start of his current first-round set that it was all on him. He said the blame would rest fully on his shoulders if the Rockets failed to beat the Utah Jazz.

Then again, McGrady also knows he can’t do it alone. Even he and fellow superstar Yao Ming need some help now and then.

“We didn’t get anything from our bench,” McGrady said, referring to Thursday night’s 81-67 loss in Game 3 during which Houston’s non-starters combined for zero points. “Our bench has got to give us something.”

Houston still leads the series 2-1, but the Jazz have the chance to knot it up today at 8:30 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena. If the respective benches play as they did Thursday, it’s likely it will be 2-all heading back to Houston on Monday. The Jazz’s four non-starters that saw playing time outscored Houston’s four reserves 33-0.

In all fairness, the Houston subs don’t have as many opportunities to score as their Jazz counterparts since so much of the team’s offense is, understandably, predicated on getting shots for McGrady and Yao. Still, Luther Head and Juwan Howard had enough time to squeeze off five shots each on Thursday, missing them all.

“The bench has to help out,” said Head. “The starters are playing pretty well but they need some help. And we (bench players) need to contribute.”

The Rockets also saw far too little contribution on Thursday from sparkplug Chuck Hayes. He started and played 29 minutes, but failed to score, missing four shots — two each from the field and the foul line. That left only four scorers for the entire team, which is a major reason the Rockets scored an all-time franchise low for the postseason.

“Our biggest problem was mentally matching them,” Yao said. “We were a step behind them, a step slower all night. It was like we never could catch up.”
Yao wasn’t the only one who said the Jazz were mentally stronger on Thursday. His coach agreed.

“In the fourth quarter, they were the tougher team,” said Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy. “They got up into us good.”

Now the question is whether the Jazz are in the Rockets’ heads or if Thursday was just a one-game anomaly.

In addition to improving their shooting against the Jazz — the Rockets have made just 36-percent of their field goals in the series — they also are focused on taking better care of the ball. Houston turned the ball over 19 times in Thursday’s loss to 11 turnovers by the Jazz.

“Right now we are turning the ball over, myself included, and you can’t do that in the playoffs,” said Houston point guard Rafer Alston.

Houston’s problems in Game 3 will all be forgotten, however, if they can win tonight, giving them a commanding 3-1 series lead heading back to Houston for Game 5.

“Game 4 is a big game for us,” said Rockets forward Shane Battier. “We need to play better. We have not played a great all-around game yet and it would be a great start if we could play an all-around game in Game 4.”

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