rockets fans

Irish pub crawls in Chicago rock. Recovery from them, however, does not. So no Worst of the Weekend today. Instead, I wanted to say a few words about the Houston Rockets, whose winning streak reached 22 games with yesterday's 104-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

In case you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, that's the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. Only Bill Sharman's immortal 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers -- starring Hall-of-Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Gail Goodrich -- won more games in a row. And while winning streaks, however long and impressive, don't necessarily make a champion, they do make for dramatic, must-see basketball. So I keep wondering: Why are so many people so eager and determined to dismiss The Streak?

Seriously, I've spent the past week or two defending the Rockets' winning ways from the snipings of a variety of fans and friends. The main criticisms being leveled against Houston fall into two catagories:

1. They've had an easy schedule

Frankly, it's virtually impossible in today's NBA to have 22 consecutive "easy" games, regardless of who you have to play or where you have to play them. But that's basically what a lot of people are claiming (and what people seem to claim almost any time a team goes on an extended winning streak). It's the big "but" that sneaks into every article and blog post about The Streak. Even the Associated Press recap of Number 22 had this to say: "Critics continue to dismiss Houston's streak as a fluke, saying the Rockets have played a bunch of bad teams." So, what, winning only counts if you play every game on the road against the top two or three teams in each conference?

Let's look at some facts about The Streak. Yes, Rockets have had plenty of games against sub-.500 teams, but they've also faced the Cleveland Cavaliers (twice), Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets (twice), and Portland Trail Blazers. So even if you totally discount the rest of their games -- and you shouldn't -- it simply isn't true that they haven't played any good teams.

Now, it is true that they've played only seven road games, but three of those games were against Cleveland (22-10 at home), New Orleans (24-10), and Dallas (29-4). Of course, Dirk Nowitzki was suspended for the Rockets/Mavericks game owing to the fact that he had tried to behead Andre Kirilenko a few days prior, so the critics will probably toss that one in the trash as well. But the Rockets still hit the road and took care of business in a (small) handful of tough arenas.

As for yesterday's game against the Lakers...I must have gotten a dozen text messages immediately following the final buzzer, and most of them were a variant of "But the Lakers didn't have Pau." Fair enough. The Lakers' big man missed the game with a sprained ankle. However, if the Lakers really are the champions in waiting, shouldn't they be bigger than the loss of any one player who's not named Kobe Bryant? Let me put it this way...

I have a friend -- a die-hard Lakers fan -- who was thoroughly unimpressed with Houston's 20th win in a row, coming as it did in an ugly win over the Hawks in Atlanta. Of couse, the Lakers lost to the Hawks in a similar situation a few weeks ago. And the people who don't think much of the Rockets' opponents during The Streak should take a closer look at the "murderer's row" the Lakers faced during their recent 18-5 streak...a streak that had everybody crowning the Lakers and clamoring for Kobe to win the MVP. That streak included wins against Toronto (twice, once without Bosh), Washington (minus Caron and Agent Zero), New Jersey (as the J-Kidd situation was reaching critical mass), Orlando (and their terribly flawed backcourt), Miami (twice), Charlotte, Minnesota, Atlanta (in L.A.), Phoenix (in the Suns' first game with Shaq), the Clippers twice (no Chris Kaman or Sam Cassell), Seattle, Portland in L.A. (awful road team), Dallas at home in OT (and trying to adjust to J-Kidd), and Sacramento.

Now can anybody explain to me why that streak -- which included losses to the Pistons, Hawks, Blazers, and Kings (in L.A.) -- was considered more legit than what the Rockets have done? It's not even as though the Lakers were winning in more impressive fashion. I mean, 14 of the Rockets 22 victories have been by double figures, including 10 straight at one point. No, I'd guess it's because the Lakers have Kobe, and they have Pau, and they have a bench that many believe is the strongest and deepest in the league. Basically, it's because what the Lakers have on paper looks better than what Houston has on paper, which effectively refutes what we can see happening right before our eyes.

Here's something to consider: If the Rockets can't lose even without Yao Ming and the Lakers can't win without Pau Gasol, what does that say about each team? Or, for that matter, Kobe's claim on the MVP?

2. They can't win a title

As The Streak has grown longer and longer, this non-argument seems to be picking up steam. What does it matter if the Rockets win 22 in a row, 26 in a row, even 33 in a row? Because it's not like they can win the NBA championship, right? Not without Yao, not with Tracy McGrady's history of injuries and first round choke jobs, not with so many good Western Conference teams. No, they can't win a title, ergo all this winning is bereft of meaning and significance. Right?

Frankly, I think all that is moot. Only one team is going to win the NBA championship this season. That means there's going to be one winner and 29 losers. And last I checked, there isn't a team in the league that's so utterly flawless we should just hand them the Larry O'Brien trophy and be done with it. So what if the Rockets don't win it all? They'll be in pretty good company even if they don't. Why does that even matter?

We don't need to overanalyze and nitpick every time a team goes on a long winning streak. I say that, when a team is shining, let 'em shine. Basketball is a game. Winning is fun. I think we should congratulate the Rockets for an historic accomplishment and appreciate the fact that they've given us something worth paying attention to during what is typically one of the slowest months of the NBA season. But maybe that's just me.

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50 Comments:
Anonymous Kyle said...
you might add "nobody cares about winning streaks" to the list. it makes the last 5 minutes of the game interesting and that's about it.

take this lakers/rockets game for instance. i'm not going to watch a 2 hour basketball game to see if a team i don't care about can beat a team that annoys me to keep a winning streak alive. i started watching the game, got bored, changed the channel (intending to change it back) and then forgot about it.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
if nobody cared why was there so much crap last year about phx and dallas?
22 games is impressive let's leave it at that

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"heard" 2nd paragraph

Anonymous Wormboy said...
That, right, Bawful. Let the Rockets bask in some love. Kudos to them.

Anonymous John E. Sanford said...
Damn right, show these dudes some respect. If getting this many wins consecutively were so easy, then why are the Rockets 2nd all-time for wins in a row? Another great post, this blog is a daily must read.

Blogger flohtingPoint said...
Basketbawful,

I'm going to have to take a break from my usual routine of reading the column and adding a witty retorting involving body pillows, The Big Sarcophagus or Chris Beniot. No I'm far too upset right now.

I'd like to take this time to extend a hefty middle finger of Oliver Miller proportion (and girth) to the NCAA selection committee. Thank you, "Oh Great Bracketeers" for piling on another hefty steaming loaf of dung on one of my favorite teams by leaving Arizona State out.

I think it's completely merited that you, instead, include the Arizona Mildcats and their below .500 conf record. Never mind the fact that Arizona State swept them this season, and Harden and Pendergraph both dropped 25+ dingdongs on them. No, they were clearly the team to take from the PAC10!

Arizona State obliterated Xavier you say? And slayed Stanford? Poppycock, they should definitely stay home and watch the tournament from Tempe.

Excellent job all around Bracketeers, and congratulations on being added to my "I want to stab you to death and play around with your blood" ala American Psycho list. You've now joined the ranks of this years BCS committee in terms of being complete and utter wastes of carbon. Please obliterate yourselves in a fiery auto accident like Drazen Petrovic.

Love,
flohtingPoint

Anonymous manic said...
Mr flothingpoint, I am also not happy with ASU not getting into the big dance, but must we start the name calling too? Arizona is a good team, no matter what you say. Yes, they did lose twice to ASU, but thats what happens, you lose some games. Should ASU be in, yes. Should Arizona be in, yes. Please dont make me not like you by being a homer though.

Back to the Rockets. All this winning streak does to the Rockets is add even more pressure to T-Mac and the entire team come playoff time. I give them props for winning so many games in a row and having a great season, but great seasons mean nothing in the playoffs (as a Suns fan, I know this). I am going to have to see them make it out of the first round before I join this party.

Blogger Stephen said...
Good post,

But even if the streak included just bottom dwellers/sub .500 teams, and not the quality teams you mentioned, wouldn't it STILL be impressive? How can these people be writing off a streak than has only been duplicated once in the history of the game, regardless of the opponents? Most teams in the NBA couldn't win 22 straight games even if they only played a team like the Bobcats during that stretch. And if a team can roll off 22 in a row to take sole possession of first in a very competitive Western Conference, why couldn't they win it all?

The problem is that ESPN has become more like then Entertainment Tonight of sports than the CNN of sports. In other words, they're concerned with what's sexy (remember that awful "Who's NOW?" segment?), more concerned with seemingly endless mind-numbing commentary than they are about reporting WHAT IS HAPPENING in sports. We can't just hear about how what an accomplishment the streak is, we also have to hear what Stephen A. Smith thinks about it. Instead of giving QUALITY coverage of each game, we get two highlights (usually a LeBron/Kobe dunk) followed by 15 minutes of the NFL tonight guys talking about NOTHING.

(Sigh. . . ) I'm done.

Blogger flohtingPoint said...
"Mr flothingpoint"

I love it when people spell my name "flothingpoint", sounds like something I can order at Orange Julius.

Homer I am not. I write more far more bad things about my teams than good. Regardless, when Arizona gets a bid over a more deserved ASU, thats a totally different world. ASU (alumni, students, atheletes and fans) hates Arizona. We cheered and heckled when Steve Kerr's dad died and he was a Wildcat. We fired insults at the UofA baseball coach when his wife was all messed up from Lou Gehrig's. Were not all there, people expect this from us.

Blogger Quinton said...
hell yea, gimme that Rocket love.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
kyle -- I dunno. I care. It's fun to follow. I can't wait to see if they can keep it going against the Celtics.

john e. sanford -- Thank you, sir.

flohtingpoint -- You're absolutely right. Your boys got hosed. Big time. That particular decision by the selection committee boggles my noggin. It seems like there should be some kind of checks and balances-type of organization that could call bullshit on obvious f-ups like this. The cynic in me says that this was a money decision...since it's obvious that one team will probably draw more interest than the other...

manic -- But see, that's my point...why can't we enjoy major, record-breaking moments DURING the regular season? I mean, I hate this general feeling that's grown among NBA fans that says, "Only the playoffs matter." Because ultimately one team wins it all and so, what, that reduces every other team and over other player to nil? Hogwash. It's like celebrating St. Patty's Day. I never used to do it, but now that I do, my life feels like it's a little bit bigger. There's something more to look forward to. I don't want to have to wait for late April to start caring about what's going on in the NBA. I want to care every day, every game, and 22-game winning streaks help me do that. Am I making any sense here?

stephen -- Sadly, I agree with you.

Blogger Joe said...
Sorry to nitpick, but

However, if the Lakers really are the champions in waiting, shouldn't they be bigger than the loss of any one player who's not named Kobe Bryant?

The lakers are dealing with the loss of more than 'one' player :)

Otherwise I think what the rockets have done is amazing.

Anonymous Chris said...
People aren't quick to crown the rockets because:

1. Nobody cares about the regular season.
2. The rockets' only proven offensive star has a history of sucking it up in the playoffs.
3. We all saw how a team can go from "maybe" to "tungsten-melting hot" to "lukewarm" in the trailblazers.
4. Pre-postseason momentum is one of the most important predictors of championship (see 2007 red sox, 2007 giants, last year's spurs). Most people believe that the rockets will cool off just in time for the playoffs (see 2007 patriots).

I don't think the media's rseponse to The Streak has anything to do with Houston's strength of schedule. Hell, a 22-game winning streak against Ricky Davis' Heat would be impressive. The bottom line is that nobody thinks this streak will matter come the playoffs.

Blogger Faizan said...
Basketbawful...who's your pick for the MVP?

Anonymous L.Bud said...
In regards to your comment "If the Rockets can't lose even without Yao Ming and the Lakers can't win without Pau Gasol, what does that say about each team? Or, for that matter, Kobe's claim on the MVP?" you pose the question like it is black and white.

Injuries have affected both teams, no doubt, though you fail to acknowledge how it affects each team - this comparison isn’t apples to apples.

First, Gasol became the de-facto starting center with Bynum out and Kwame leaving town. Chris Mihm has been collecting dust and paychecks for most of the season and there’s no telling when he will be back. So who does this leave to man the middle for the Lakers? 6-9 Ronny Turiaf and DJ Mbenga. How can one expect the Lakers to be a top-tier basketball team with an interior defense consisting of those two? Ronny has shown the capability of playing the 5 in short minutes, but it's downright silly to think he can do it for extended periods. Mbenga is simply a warm body there for insurance (which is clearly needed now with the top 3 centers out).

To win in the NBA, you don’t necessarily need the most dominant big man, though you do need one who will be effective and efficient – particularly on defense and rebounding. Yesterday’s game showed the necessity for interior defense and rebounding. The Rockets were given several second chance points and had lots of penetration to the basket due to the Lakers lack of size/presence in the post.

The Rockets may have lost Yao, but they do have Mutombo who can give them a good 20 mins of solid play on defense and rebounding each night. Scola is no slouch either; 28 year old “rookie” who played for Argentina’s gold medal winning team. Chuck Hayes was quite decent when he got burn last season, Carl Landry has been very solid as well. The point is that the Lakers frontline is decimated with injuries, while the Rockets lost their All-Star center and still have very capable players to fill his void – the Lakers don’t have such a luxury with such few big men left. You can’t justify that statement and present them as being equal.

You also didn’t mention the Rockets played New Orleans without David West either. With their thin bench, they can’t afford to lose anyone – especially West, Chandler, Peja or CP3.

Nonetheless, I do think the Rocket’s streak IS impressive. Basketball is a combination of skill and luck. Skill will prevail with all things being equal, but there is an amount of luck involved in winning as well. The Rockets are just playing excellent team ball and are winning because of it, despite being beneficiaries of scheduling, opponent’s injuries and whatnot; they continue to win. Other teams would probably just rollover when one their best players goes down, but they’ve kept fighting. When an opponent is undermanned, many teams will overlook them – the Rockets haven’t. The true test of this streak will come up when they face BOS, @NO, @GS and @PHX.

In the end, the streak doesn’t prove or disprove them as champions or contenders. You’ll just have to sit back and see what happens when playoff time comes. We know this: Yao will be out for the season, T-Mac has yet to get out of the first round, the West is tight – anyone has the chance to win. Winning games in March doesn’t get you anything in April and May; the competition is only going to get tougher then. I just don’t see them being considered contenders without Yao even though they’re just playing great ball right now. Their void of Yao should be exposed in a 7 game series come playoff time.

Blogger Faizan said...
I disagree that this week is the "true test" of the streak. Suppose they win all games this week, people will immediately point to the next difficult stretch on Houston's schedule as the "true test." Suppose they lose, does that mean their streak was not "true"? Houston's winning 22 games is a fact regardless of whether they lose to Bos, GS, PHX, or Miami. Their 22-game win streak was tested over the last 22 game streaks and seeing as to how those were wins, the streak is true.

Would you say the Laker's 11 or 12 game streak or whatever it was wasn't true because it came to an end when it saw its "true test"? No, it was what it was: a somewhat impressive winning streak that has been duplicated half a dozen times this season alone. Just like the Rocket's streak is what it is: something done only twice in history.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
decided to skip over the last post....too long lol anyways

if no one cares about the regular season let's just get rid of if all together and do random seedings tournament STYLE!! LOL jokes jokes

anyways since you didn't do a worst of the weekend post I'll just sum up what I saw with the raptors

"Raptors tripped fell rolled down the hill and landed safely in a wood chipper this weekend"

Blogger flohtingPoint said...
Basketbawful...who's your pick for the MVP?

Loaded question. Prepare to see one of the biggest MVP jacks since Magic over Barkley in 90, Barkley over Jordan in 93, or anytime Karl Malone won it.

Chris Paul deserves it (especially after 17 dimes on LA???), but Kobe could defile the whole state of Colorado and still walk away with the hardware.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
faizan -- If I had to choose right now without reviewing the stats and the records and what not -- in other words, without overanalyzing things -- I'd take Chris Paul. He's absolutely carried a team with rather modest (and limited) talent and transformed them from bottom-dweller to one of the Western Conference elite. And it's pretty clear that his unselfish game makes everybody around him better. He runs a mean offense, and he has a little bit of a nasty streak on defense. It's a shame that his efforts are being overlooked due to LeBron's otherworldly numbers and how much the Lakers improved after obtaining Gasol. Hell, even T-Mac is getting a little MVP talk due to The Streak (which overshadows the fact that it's been a total team effort not driven by any one person).

Yeah. For my money, Paul's the best MVP candidate I've got.

i.bud -- That remark was meant to be more food for thought than grand pronouncement. There are many mitigating factors both ways, as you point out (however, claiming that Pau provides interior defense is a little off, because he's always been a weak defender and the Lakers haven't had a lot of really strong defensive showings since he got there...it's more like their offense has been completely overpowering).

Anyway, the point of my post wasn't even necessarily that the streak proves the Rockets are contenders. It's more of a "who cares?" kind of thing. Why does the notion that they may not win have to detract from such a fun streak? I'd rather just watch and enjoy then spend my times looking at their opponents' win/loss records and prognosticating whether T-Mac can finally get out of the first round.

It just seems the basketball viewing public wants to immediately discredit things even as they happen. Mind you, I know I do that from time to time and I'm trying really hard not to do that. As cynical as I come off, I'm really more amused by poor performances than I am upset or angered by them (unless it's my Pacers, in which case I'm often enraged).

It's like this. I go up to an NBA fan and I want to talk a 22-game win streak. The first things that come out, as I said, are "They've played bad teams, and they aren't a contender." I just think it's unfortunate that's the first thing people are thinking instead of, like, "Wow. It's pretty cool that I get to live through this."

Blogger Faizan said...
Yep...I was thinking Chris Paul as well. Voters don't have to decide between stats and wins. They can just select Chris Paul.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
faizan -- I agree. There's no such thing as a "true test" of a winning streak. It is what it is, regardless of what comes before or after. I understand that people constantly want to put things into some sort of context, but context often diminishes things that should just be enjoyed for what they are.

shrugz -- You skipped the post?! Dude, no! I rely on you to read every word. Don't taze me, bro!

flohtingpoint -- Okay, I totally think Barkley deserved it in '93, and I think Malone genuinely deserved it in '97 (and I will argue that to the death). However, in some cases you can just tell the MVP voters have made up their minds about early who's getting the MVP on a given year and nothing's going to change thier mind. It happened with Dirk last year, and it's happening with Kobe this year. It's like they're thinking, "Kobe's been great for so long and never won an MVP. If he doesn't get it this year, when's he going to get it?" It's the "lifetime acheivement award" idea. Not that it won't necessarily be close...but LeBron will probably be the near miss instead of Paul, who, IMHO, deserves it the most.

Anonymous Sam said...
l.bud,
Mutombo played 16 minutes in the whole game. To say that the Rockets had "lots of penetration to the basket due to the Lakers lack of size" is just absurd. The Lakers had 48 points in the paint to the Rockets 32 points. The Lakers also had 6 blocks to the Rockets 3. I always hear people complaining about how Gasol and Bynum are both out. What they fail to realize is that they have yet to play a single game together and saying BOTH of them are out is just not applicable. Gasol was brought in as a body to man the paint while Bynum was out, plain and simple.

The Rockets didn't just lose a normal All-Star center. They lost arguably their best player, their ONLY legit inside post presence, and their best free throw shooter. Name me any other teams who let their C shoot technical foul shots.
And you STILL bring up the whole deal about the Rockets being the beneficiaries of their schedule? Give me a break. Every elite team has had a weak schedule at some point during the season. Here is a break of the easy schedules of other top teams in the NBA:

Boston Celtics (11/2 - 12/16) | 18 Wins, 2 Losses
Los Angeles Lakers (2/1 - 3/11) | 17 Wins, 3 Losses
San Antonio Spurs (1/24 - 3/6) | 16 Wins, 4 Losses
Detroit Pistons (11/1 - 12/11) | 14 Wins, 6 Losses

You can take a look at the schedules and see who each team lost to. I don't see any of these teams on a 15-20 game win streak even though these teams also had a cupcake schedule playing against opponents who were hobbled by injuries or missing a single player.

People need to start appreciating the streak for what it is and leave out all the "what ifs.” Those questions will be answered at a later date, but for now just enjoy the ride because something like this won't happen anytime soon.

HATERS.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
I meant comment HAHAH oops

I'd wait till regular season before you nominate an MVP just like you'd wait till the end of playoffs before saying they are nba champions

I only like Houston cuz of Yao lol
but I was torn cuz McGrady's on that team and we all know what happens to players who leave the raptors on a bad note LOL

Anonymous jay_uno said...
as long as lebron doesn´t win the mvp, i´m fine.
i´m so fed off this lebron-a-thon ... he´s on the vogue cover!!! his farts smell like flowers! i mean, who the f*ck is interested in this shit.. i know david stern would like to make love to him every night, but why do all the nba fans and cleveland-haters (there are so many) have to witness all this manlove?

cp3 deserves it, kobe will get the hardware, i could care less

btw: i enjoy the rockets streak and hope they can keep it alive, so we can end it at the palace..hrhr

Anonymous Humil said...
Gotta say, I know there are Laker fans out there who have the right to celebrate their resurgence from the poop squad that KOBE lead for a few years to a genuine contender now. Great, so I thought there was more than a handful of them contenders, depending on how the playoff match-ups might pan out. (Wasn't Detroit a contender? Did they just lose 4 games by accident?)

For some reason this whole Lakers must be ordained to win this season (as Gausol was basically "given") and that all of a sudden Kobe Bryant isn't an egocentric bitchass who has MJ-like athleticism without the leadership skills but rather just misunderstood and overdued his cred will make their ultimate demise all that much sweeter...

Overlooking LeBron's prowess and CP3's teammate-transforming qualities are silly things to do, especially given that KOBE might in the end not be the true ignition to the Lakers' resurgence... Y'all right, might be the last chance for the mamba's "Lifetime Achievement Award"... Think LeBron is going to regress? Or the CP3/Deron Williams duels are going to cool-off? And any of the other quality leader? (Nash, Tim Duncan, Manu, KG, and whomever else...)

Bottomline, name one true MVP caliber leader who you can imagine choking his boss without a tiny drip of remorse... He is good-looking and he is really good, but that somehow he is ORDAINED to carry the sport on his back? Somehow he is the best player in the league? He doesn't even do one thing the best or have the best combination of skills and other qualities. Please...

Anonymous John E. Sanford said...
My MVP is Chris Paul. I realize that Lebron has to carry an inferior squad as well, but he plays in the East and if the Cavs were in the west, they would be lucky to have 30 wins at this point. To me an MVP raises his teammates level of play and that's what Chris Paul has done moreso than Lebron. I'm not even gonna mention Kobe for the award, although he'll probably win it. If this team didn't make that trade for Gasol, I'm not sure they are even in the playoff hunt right now.

Anonymous Don Paco said...
Like someone said above, a 22 game winning streak is awesome, even if all those 22 games were vs. Miami or Memphis. Respect to these Rockets, even if they go 0-20 the rest of the season.

Anonymous l.bud said...
Sam - Since when does dribble penetration = points in the paint? In the first 3 quarters of the game, T-Mac drove and drove and drove into the teeth of the defense (drawing the “helpers”) in and kicked it out to Rafer and Battier for countless 3 point shots. In the box score, it shows as a 3 point shot but in reality it’s points off dribble penetration. Also, points in the paint aren’t counted on freethrows made. The Rockets also had more offensive boards. If you saw the game, you can’t possibly tell me the Rockets didn’t break down the Lakers interior D with penetration. You’re looking at the boxscore to explain how the game went. That’s irrational because things happen in the game that don’t appear in boxscores.

Mutombo played 16 mins on Sunday. 16 is close to 20, isn’t it? Some of the games during the streak he’s played over 20. You’re just splitting hairs here. I said 20 to be meant as an average, not only reading from Sunday’s boxscore. Name me one person who wouldn’t take 16 minutes of Mutombo over Mbenga.

And you say the Lakers had a “easy” February schedule? You’re kidding me! That stretch you mention only had the Lakers playing 14 of 21 on the road, 9 of which were on ONE road trip. I don’t know about you, but for ANY NBA team, that is a difficult road trip, regardless of the opponents. Meanwhile the Rockets have played 15 of 22 at home. Those are considered equivalent stretches to you? If you say so!

You also make it sound like I discredited the streak completely I said I thought it was impressive. It is. I just don’t think it merits discussion of them being contenders. If you disagree, that’s your opinion and that’s fine. This is mine.

I’m thankful for the streak because it has ESPN not doing it’s daily LeBron watch. No one gives a damn about his mediocre team. Kobe did what he is doing and he never got that kind of love for MVP, so neither should he.

Anonymous julian said...
wao...bawful being so nice...that's......rare =P

Blogger starang said...
I can appreciate 22 wins. And I agree that it can be admired for what it is, without tying it into the context of winning the title, getting out of the first round, their particular schedule, the amount of home games, the injured "stars" of opponents....

flohtingpoint - Don't hate us because we are beautiful. ASU did great this year, but had a weak schedule. None the less, they truly deserved to be invited this year by showing their talent and intensity of the floor, and beating some good teams. HOWEVER, your beef is not with the Wildcats my good friend (at least not the Wildcats from Tucson), so please leave them out of this.

A system that doesn't recognize good teams in a very competative conference will always suck and both UofA AND ASU deserved it this year. It just sucks to be a Sun Devil sometimes (and by sometimes I mean 100% of the time). Look on the bright side...you should dominate the NIT.

Good day Gentlemen.

Anonymous dabong said...
"If the Rockets can't lose even without Yao Ming and the Lakers can't win without Pau Gasol, what does that say about each team? Or, for that matter, Kobe's claim on the MVP?"

You've made great points but I think that one (above) hit it right on the head.

Great post

Anonymous manic said...
What record breaking moment are you talkng about Mr Basketbawful?? 22 in a row, thats not the record, so why be all excited about it? I understand that its a great record, but in reality, its not the record. You hear me knocking? Then let me in!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
all these comments and not a single mention of rafer trying to show up vujacic on national tv (last minute of play), getting hacked and then trying to get all street on the v-unit? can you say 'poor sport'?

Anonymous bears in the cathedral said...
The hangover made you give away that you are a good man indeed. Read the last paragraph. Thats so sweet.

Blogger Melvin said...
rockets for the title!

Anonymous Sheets said...
"all these comments and not a single mention of rafer trying to show up vujacic on national tv (last minute of play), getting hacked and then trying to get all street on the v-unit? can you say 'poor sport'?"

Yeah, what was Vujacic's problem anyway? Just because Rafer does a couple of dinky little spin moves to run out the clock he loses his temper and hacks the guy...

Seriously though, I don't see what the big deal was.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
Rafer's always been like that
the dude shot a 3 pointer when his team was winning by 9 at the buzzer and increased the margin to 12? why? what was the point of shooting that? the game was won!! clearly he has no sense of sportsmanship. I hope someone drills him to the floor
but I've already spoken about that so that will be all LOL

Blogger Jeffrey Hardy Quah said...
My memory of the game's a little shaky (though I'm sure there's a YouTube somewhere) but I think Vujacic was trying to press Alston for some strange reason even though only 17 seconds (?) remained in the game. Alston got annoyed and decided to show him up.

Anonymous Kyle said...
i'm not saying it's a bad thing. it's a great thing. i'm just saying that to many fans, just cause they've got a winning streak going doesn't mean we're going to watch them or care that much. it's impressive no doubt. and i'm interested to see how far they take it. but only vaguely.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
manic -- Well, the Rockets did break the record for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.

anonymous -- It'd a day late, but I posted the Rafer/Sasha altercation in Worst of the Night.

sheets -- Well, you know, Sasha's a douche.

shrugz -- Yeah. It's true. Rafer's a street baller, man. That stuff is in his blood. You can take the baller out of the street, but you can't take the street outta the baller.

jeffrey hardy quah -- Yeah, that's what it looked like to me, too.

kyle -- Fans can choose whether or not to care about The Streak. That's their prerogative, of course. My only point was, instead of trying to shoot holes in it, why not at least try to enjoy it for what it is.

Anonymous Kyle said...
that's a good point. i'm certainly not trying to take anything away from them. 22 wins in a row is definitely amazing. especially as a pistons fan you realize that no matter how good your team is, winning this many games in a row, even against mostly sub .500 teams is remarkable.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
To me it's quite simple why the Rockets' streak may not be that impressive: for teams to really start getting a lot of credit around the league and to start being thought of as serious contenders they have to get quality wins, and in this streak of Houston's (especially after Yao went down) there really aren't any of those. Beating Dallas without Dirk, beating New Orleans without West and beating the Lakers without Gasol are not the kind of wins that really raise people's eyebrows. Beating Boston at home without Ray Allen tonight (if he sits tonight's game out as well) will probably also go in this category. This is why people don't take the streak that seriously, because they don't think it has any real bearing on how good the Rockets actually are. They feel (and rightly so, I think) that Houston is still a good shot to be eliminated in the 1st round. If Houston can hold onto that #1 seed (doubtful), then maybe they can take out the Nuggets or Warriors, but otherwise I'd favor just about every other team in the West in a series with Houston, even if the Rockets have home court advantage. People don't respect the streak as much as previous streaks cause you just sense that the first time the Rockets meet a real quality opponent the streak will come to an end.

22 straight wins most definitely is impressive, and shows the Rockets are playing well as a team and are maintaining their focus and are dispatching teams that aren't as good as them. The only thing that's lacking is beating teams that are arguably better than them. They start doing that and the streak will have more validity.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
wild yams -- But see, that's my whole point: Critics seem to be judging this streak based on the relative quality of the Rockets' foes and whether or not Houston can win a title.

The first is somewhat meaningless, considering how many "good" and even "great" teams fall to inferior competition. Take that 72-win Bulls team. They never won 22 in a row, and they lost games to a 35-win Nuggets team and a 21-win Raptors team. Bringing focus and intensity every night for 22 straight games is no easy task, regardless of the competition. That's why it's only been done by one other team.

Secondly, you can't judge every accomplishment based on whether it leads to a championship. Wilt's team didn't win a title the year he averaged 50 PPG and scored 100 in a game against the Knicks. Kobe's team got ousted in the first round the year he averaged 35 PPG and scored 81 against the Raptors. Does that reduce what Wilt and Kobe did to nil? Are you going to tell me that John Stockton's 15,000+ career assist record is a sham because the Jazz never won a title? Or that the careers of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and whoever else you want to name shouldn't be praised because they didni't win it all.

I know this sounds crazy coming from me, but the basketball public has become jaded to the point that winning a title is the only meaningful pursuit in basketball, and anything other than that might as well be forgotten. Hogwash. We live in a world where Antoine Walker won a damn championship. So I refuse to use The Trophy as the ultimate indicator of success. There are many different kinds of achievements and records.

By my count, there are more than a dozen NBA teams that have won a title. Only two have ever won 22 games in a row. That says something.

Anonymous Kyle said...
we also live in a world where all three Boston/Detroit games and at least one San Antonio/Detroit game are shown only on nba tv. it's like they don't want us to care about the regular season.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
kyle -- Dude, seriously!

Blogger starang said...
Thats why it pays to be a Suns fan. Every single game is televised in HD for us here in the PHX. Every single one. First in the leauge.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful, I'm sorry but you're just wrong about this. It is not that fans are jaded that makes the Rockets' 22 win streak less impressive, it really is just the fact that they're not legit contenders, and people know it. All the other great streaks were done by teams that either did win the title that year or looked like they had one of the best shots at it.

The Rockets' streak is impressive just for showing that a solid team could maintain an incredibly rare level of professionalism, and it was met with the appropriate level of enthusiasm. In this way the streak is akin to AC Green's Iron Man streak: it was incredibly impressive and may be something we'll never see again (or at least any time soon), but it wasn't about dominance, so it doesn't impress people as much as something like Wilt's 50 ppg or Kobe's 81 or whatever.

If you look at the 22 games in the streak, the only win which really is actually an impressive win was the 20 point drubbing of the Hornets in New Orleans before Yao got hurt, but the fact that he's now out for the year ultimately means that Houston's real title shot is gone. It's tough to get too worked into a frenzy for a team you just know is infinitely more likely to get ousted in the first round than they are to win a title this year. The Rockets were barely above .500 when the streak started, and odds are they'll finish with one of the lower seeds come playoff time. The fact that they rolled off an incredible streak against mediocre opponents in the middle of that doesn't change the fact that they're just barely one of the top 10 teams in the league this year.

It has nothing to do with sports fans being jaded, it has to do with people just being realistic. While some may say that if the Lakers or Spurs or Celtics or whomever were to run off 22 wins that the media would be on fire about it and that shows bias, the real reason that would happen is because those teams actually have genuine shots of winning it this year. In that case people would think they were watching the champion begin to assert itself, and that is something that will make people sit up and take notice. It's not bias or being jaded or anything like that, it's just reality.

Blogger bakatatahala said...
did you ever read The Associations comments on the Rockets' winning streak? They were bashing them like crazy.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Since my last comment was my usual long-winded crap, I figured out a way to distill it down: for hardcore basketball fans, we can all appreciate how truly incredible 22 straight wins is, but for casual fans who were told about it, the conversation probably went something like this:

"Did you hear that the Rockets won 22 straight games? That's incredible, it's the 2nd longest streak in NBA history!"

"Wow, really? I didn't know the Rockets were that good. They must be the best team in the league then I guess, huh?"

"Well, not really. I mean, they're really good, but I doubt they'll win it all."

"Oh, OK. Did you see American Idol last night?"

Blogger Basketbawful said...
wild yams -- I wasn't ignoring you. I just have some deadlines at my Clark Kent job and I just hadn't had a chance to respond.

I wasn't really talking about the casual fans. I was talking about the hard core NBA fantatics who seemed intent on demeaning the streak. There seems to be a lot of hate and dubiousness directed toward anything that does not go into winning a championship, which seems silly, since only 1 team out of 30 is going to win one...and if we only get to celebrate the accomplishments of one team, the season would be pretty limited, and pretty sad in my estimation.

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