Yao Ming may have inadvertently lit a fire under Big Kelvin's ass this season, and the Rockets are benefitting from it all.
Kelvin Cato, backing up Yao at center, put up a monster effort, helping the Rockets beat the ice cold Warriors 91-84 Wednesday night, improving to 8-6 on the season.
Cato, who has been an enigma the past 3 seasons in Houston, seems to be motivated by the presence of Yao, who is getting insane pub and has taken Cato's starting job. In 31 minutes against the Warriors, Cato hit 9-11 shots for 22 points, tore down 12 boards and rejected 6 shots.
Throw in the fact that Yao Ming scored 14 points and blocked a pair in just 17 minutes of play, and you see the Rockets duo at center (36 points on 15-19 shooting, 15 boards, 8 blocks) dominated the likes of Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle and Antawn Jamison in the paint.
Got to love that kind of production.
Speaking of Yao, he again shot extremely well (6-8), but didn't play much in the first half thanks to Cato and picked up his fourth and fifth fouls quickly in the third period, which kept him out of the fourth quarter.
Glen Rice didn't shoot particularly well (5-14), but damn did he hit the right shots at the right time. He nailed his only two triples in the pivotal third quarter, when the Rockets went from up one at half to up nine entering the fourth. He finished with 15 points and seems to have become much more of a focal point in the Rockets offense.
Speaking of the Rockets offense, it's still not good. Take out the production in the paint from Cato/Yao and the rest of the Rockets shot 19-58 (32.7%) from the floor. Had they not been playing the Warriors, who shot 33% total as a team, Houston would have been in trouble.
They're just not knocking down the outside shot.
Even with Rudy T benching a guy who hasn't been hitting much at all lately: Eddie Griffin. While there has been no comment as to why he didn't play -- Rudy could just have sat him to let him get his body and mind straight since he hasn't been able to shoot a lick -- it could be the start of some friction. Bottom line is there isn't enough playing time to go around to satisfy all the frontcourt players.
Steve Francis finished with 14 points, 9 boards and 7 assists and Moochie Norris bounced back from a terrible game in Los Angeles Sunday to score 10 points, 6 boards and 5 dimes.
The Rockets gobble down some turkey on Thursday before heading to Seattle to face the Sonics on Friday. Big game since Seattle roughed up the Rockets at home earlier in the year.