Things were going so well for the Houston Rockets, but all the things that were not going so well finally caught up to them.
Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming stepped up to the plate, but the Houston supporting cast was severely lacking again as the inside strength of the Grizzlies helped Memphis take a 105-99 win over the Rockets Tuesday night.
The loss drops the Rockets to 6-2 on the year.
Darko Milicic hit 9-14 shots for 20 points while Pau Gasol added 26 points, aided by 17 shots at the line. Memphis in fact got 41 free throws to the Rockets 24.
For the Rockets, McGrady was en feugo early on, stroking 9 of his first 11 shots and finishing with a game-high 41 points. Yao was a strong second option, hitting 7-12 shots for 22 points to go with 7 boards.
After that? Forget about it.
The Rockets just aren't "clicking" or hitting outside of their top two. The top three scoring options on the Rockets after T-Mac and Yao are Bonzi Wells (2-8 shooting), Mike James (4-12) and Shane Battier (0-4), and each was a very poor source of points on this night.
In fact, all three are shooting between 34% and 38% this season ... it's as if the Rockets are seeking scoring punch from clones of Rafer Alston.
And as for Rafer himself, in 160 career games with the Rockets, Skip is now shooting 37.3% from the floor and 34.3% from long range... and as bad as those numbers are, we'd probably kill for them now.
Rafer continued his early brick-a-thon from long range this season, going 0-4, putting the Rockets starting point guard at 30% from the floor and a wheezing 21.2% from downtown (I'm going to venture a guess and say that, on average, halftime show fan promotion participants over the last 5 years shoot better from beyond the arc than Rafer so far this season).
Throw in the serious struggles of James as well and the inefficiency out of the small guard spot is a switchblade to Houston's gut right now.
So does coach Rick Adelman make a relatively early change here, going with veteran Steve Francis or rookie Aaron Brooks? I don't think so. I think Adelman will (and should) give the Skip-James combo a little more time. Neither is this bad and should improve, but something better give soon. You can't stick it out all year with this kind of production.
No need to panic yet however. T-Mac looks rejuvenated this season and Yao is standing tall. It was a poor loss against a weaker opponent, but a 6-2 record with your entire supporting cast putting up percentages way below their career averages shows that the Rockets are pretty damn good... and can still get a whole lot better.