When it came down to it, the Rockets simply couldn't shoot straight.
The Rockets shot 35.3% from the floor, missed 16 free throws and missed a three at the buzzer to tie as the Lakers escaped Houston with a 93-90 victory Wednesday night in the Toyota Center, dropping the Rockets to 6-3 on the season.
For about 2 hours, the game didn't really matter.
Tracy McGrady injured his elbow in a collision with Luke Walton with 50 seconds left in the second quarter. He never returned. He was taken to the hospital for an MRI and word spread quickly that the medical staff was concerned that T-Mac tore a ligament. Fans were proclaiming this team officially cursed.
Fortunately Clutch City could breathe again. About 20 minutes after the final horn, T-Mac returned to the Toyota Center and told the media his injury is just a strain and he should be out a week or so.
This game was sensory overload for a Houston hoopster. You had Kobe Bryant in town, McGrady injured and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy in the house, providing color work for the ESPN broadcast. It was like listening to the Director's Cut of a great movie -- Van Gundy's insight was pure gold.
It was ironic that JVG was there to witness Adelman's defenseless Rockets give up 61 points in the first half. Instead of pulling his hair out, Van Gundy was likely sipping a piña colada with a smile.
To me though, that terrible defensive half was a testament to the impact that Shane Battier has on the team defensively. The officials called 6-7 quick fouls on the Rockets early on -- 2 on Battier -- and he left the game 4-5 minutes in. He came back to start the second, picked up his third foul immediately and he was done for the half. That's when the Lakers took off.
The Rockets held the Lakers to just 32 points in the second half, which got them back in it, but they simply couldn't put the ball in the hole to seize the day.
Yao Ming (26 points) and Bonzi Wells (21) were the only sources of offense, and neither one shot the ball well. Combined they shot 13-37 from the floor and missed 11 of 32 free throws.
Shane Battier (3-9 shooting) continued his recent woes and Rafer Alston (1-6 from long range) continued his career woes.
But the worst offender tonight? Mike James. James shaved his head before the game, perhaps in a superstitious attempt to get his shot going, but he might want to grow that hair back. He missed 8 of 10 shots for 5 points, 0 assists and 3 turnovers. This is the guy who very well could be the Rockets third scorer, but he's shooting 32.6%. His shot will come back, but this is 7 games in a row now.
Nothing seems as bad as the scary thought that Tracy McGrady might have been lost for the season, so this loss and potentially a few more in the next week just don't seem that bad anymore.
However, Adelman has to get this offense going. That's his baby. He came in and vowed that he would make scoring easier for the Rockets two stars, and he's done that..
But who knew it would be so much harder for the non-stars.