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12/15/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Scoring remains lost art in setback to T-Wolves
12/15/2003 - Minnesota Star-Tribune
Wolves back on Target
12/15/2003 - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Garnett's energy fuels Wolves' victory
Offense In Coma As Timberwolves Roll
Rockets continue to have no answers on offense, fall 75-92 in Minnesota
By Clutch
DECEMBER 16, 2003 9:26 PM  |  BOX SCORE  |  HISTORY VS. TIMBERWOLVES

Off Night: Cuttino Mobley has been one of the steady offensive presences on the team this season, but that was not the case in Minnesota (AP photo)
It's hard to believe Sam was the backup behind Kenny Smith when in Houston. Cassell seemed to hit everything he shot, going 11-15 from the floor for 25 points, 6 assists and 6 boards.
He hit 4 of his 7 shots, but 2 rebounds? It's the mindset of Yao that has to have you worried. He has to be much more aggressive, but that doesn't exactly happen overnight ... if ever.
If it's not yet time to hit the panic button, atleast keep it close by.

The Rockets churned out yet another pathetic, barely-show up performance as the Timberwolves steamrolled the Rockets 92-75 in Minnesota Tuesday night.

The Rockets fall to 13-10 on the year, giving them the exact same record they had last season at the 23-game mark.

For all the complaints you have about the offense, and deservedly so, the big question right now has to be what in the hell has happened to Yao Ming?

In the last three games, Yao has been worked over. His 22-point, 20-rebound performance against the Pistons just 5 games ago has quickly evaporated from memory as in the last 3 contests, against two of the Rockets' bigger rivals in the Midwest, Yao has looked softer than an overripe banana in David Robinson's kitchen.

In 28 minutes, 2 rebounds is all he could come up with in Minnesota. Two. Here's a player who is supposed to be the focal point of Jeff Van Gundy's offense and he took just 7 shots Tuesday night ... and is averaging less than 10 points a game in the last three.

In particular last night, Yao was in the paint and did a turnaround on Ervin Johnson. You could have timed it with a sundial. He turned, got Ervin off balance and had a clear dunk... but instead it seemed like Yao went in to "bullet time" mode. By the time Yao was up for a shot, Ervin had recovered and rejected it. The whistle blew sending Yao to the line, and the fans were livid with the call.

It simply never should have gotten to that stage though.

Secondly, no knock on Kelvin Cato, but Van Gundy needs to fall out of love with the big man and fast. I've never seen a defense absolutely ignore a player so much. Cato got the ball from 14-20 feet out quite often in the first quarter and simply no one guarded him. In fact I once saw the defense sag in closer to the hoop when he got it. He's a very good rebounder and shot blocker, but he can't shoot the ball and teams know it. A center, which Cato usually is, hanging around the low box may be able to get away with this, but a starting power forward in this current system simply can't.

Yao's struggles and Cato's mere presence on the offensive end are two big issues that already have the Rockets offense at a significant disadvantage. Van Gundy can continue to point fingers, or he can take some responsibility for this and adjust.

Up next: the team's inability to shoot straight. In the last 3 games among rotation players, only Jim Jackson (50%) and Cuttino Mobley (44.8%) are shooting over 40%. Maurice Taylor (39.4%), Eric Piatkowski (38.9%), Yao (37.9%), Steve Francis (33.3%), Cato (15.4%) and Moochie Norris (10%) are just killing the team.

Mobley has been one of the few bright spots, but he too couldn't get it going in Minnesota. He shot 2-8 from the floor and had as many turnovers (4) as points.

Already this season, the Rockets have lost to every team in their division except the Nuggets.

While many fans are screaming for heads to roll, we could get a good look at what this team is made of in Cleveland for the second of a back-to-back.

If they can't score against the Cavs, changes have to be in order.


Clutch can be reached at clutch@clutchcity.net and also can be followed on Twitter



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