Game Notes: Phoenix at Houston

By Demarco Williams 11/17/07
-As I’m walking to the Toyota Center in downtown Houston, I realize this is my third NBA game (in three different venues, no less) in just over a week. I was at the Garden on Nov 9 and Philips Arena on Nov 14. And y’all thought ESPN’s Erin Andrews got around. Hah!

– Tracy McGrady is a game-time decision. The uncertainty of T-Mac’s leg can’t be good for a Rockets team that wants to go out tonight and prove it’s on the same caliber of West giants like tonight’s opponent or the San Antonio Spurs.

-The pregame stuff is your normal fare besides two things: 1) Suns TV announcer “Thunder” Dan Majerle is sitting just short of half court in a stool and he’s shooting the ball over his head. Though he never makes one in the 10 or 12 attempts I see him take, he’s awful close to a YouTube moment on at least five shots; 2) A high school drill team (?) comes out and does some really odd boxing routine to “Eye of the Tiger”—with their fathers as their sparing partners.
-If you’re wondering, they don’t play Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” ‘till seven minutes before tip.

-When the Rockets come out the tunnel, lucky fans are there to greet them with high fives. Players also toss souvenirs into the seats when they first hit the court. Haven’t seen much of that in the League.

-Four or five minutes before tip, T-Mac is on the court, loosening up. Looks like he might play. Sadly, that doesn’t happen. (Sidenote: In a postgame press conference, Houston coach Rick Adelman said, “I thought all afternoon he was going to play. We just didn’t want to put him out there [and risk injury].”)

-Steve Francis, on the other hand, does play for the first time this season. He doesn’t do a whole lot (eight points, two dimes) but he does play. He also looks a lot like teammate Rafer Alston on the jumbotron.

-Speaking of separated at birth, Rockets guard Luther Head and Memphis Grizzlies rookie Mike Conley Jr. could be half brothers.

-Sun Grant Hill looks great. He’s cutting. He’s going coast-to-coast. He’s hitting the short jumper. He’s making the Phoenix organization look genius for signing him in the offseason.

-Rocket Mike James has 10 points before the seven-minute mark in the first quarter. He’s on pace for, what, 80 tonight?!

-Dikembe Mutombo stands up and voices his anger like a fan EVERY time a call goes against Houston.

-The halftime score is 69-57, Phoenix. If I’m Coach Adelman, I’m thanking the heavens I’m still somewhat in this game. The Suns are hitting baskets at a near 70% clip. With T-Mac hurting and Yao Ming struggling, Phoenix has dominated every aspect of the night.

-Ever heard of Kun Lun Lubricant? Neither had I, but the Toyota Center is promoting the kinky-sounding stuff on those rolling banners that line the hardwood. (Sidenote: I Googled Kun Lun when I got back to my hotel; it’s some high-end engine lubricant from China.)

-I get a kick out of the in-game entertainment around the NBA. The Rockets had one segment that was kinda unique. It was called “Aaron’s Dream Minute,” and it involved a fan earning prizes according to how many points Houston could score in 60 seconds. The prizes ranged from a gift pack for one/two points to a 42” flat screen if they scored five or more points. They only managed four.

-Second half gets going. More of the same hapless play from the home team… Whoa, Yao just did something you almost never see- he air-balled a finger roll!

-Newsflash: Steve Nash is pretty good. But seriously, one thing you really have to respect about the cat is that he truly makes everybody on his team feel a part of something. He’s the only player I know who routinely high-fives teammates up and down the court—even if they’re not a part of the just-completed play.

-New Rocket Luis Scola is gonna be pretty good. I just hate the fact he flops so much. I counted three or four times tonight. I can only imagine how frustrated Amare Stoudemire is guarding the guy.

-The reporter sitting next to me is watching the Oklahoma/Texas Tech football game on the little TV they provide us on press row. I can’t believe they’re losing 27-10. Actually, in this crazy season of upsets, I can. Still can’t wrap my head around Kansas being the Big 12’s best team, sorry.

-The Rockets make a pseudo run in the fourth. Get things under 10. It’s not nearly enough though. The Suns pull out the victory 115-105. Folks head home with their heads hung low. Don’t know why though. The Houston Dynamo is playing in the MLS Final on Sunday!