Now, have the Rockets been able to compensate for the loss of a player that was of a handful in the league today averaging more than 20 points and ten boards a game? Define compensate! Houston has won it's first two games since losing Yao for the season, in convincing form, by wasting the Wizards, 94-69, and grilling the Grizzlies, 116-95. Houston did so by spreading out all that was lost with Yao going down, and playing like a team to overcome the adversity. In the first Yao-less victory, Houston had five players score in double figures, eleven of twelve players who played grabbed at least a pair of rebounds, and Dikembe Mutombo rubbed out four shots.
In the second game sans Ming it was more of the same. Six players scored in double figures led by Tracy McGrady's 25, the Rockets received 48 points from their bench, eleven of twelve players once again grabbed at least a single rebound while being led by Mutombo's 13 caroms, and as a team they blocked 13 shots.
Looks to me like team play is still more important than super stardom.
In relation to this game, however, the Nuggets' superstar tandem has got to play big in hopes of winning this game because the inconsistency of the other Nuggets is going to be front and center against a team like the Rockets who play as a single unit. The Nuggets can ill afford an off-shooting night from Allen Iverson who comes into tonight's game averaging 30.4 points over his last five games. Same goes for Carmelo Anthony who has struggled as of late. 'Melo has dipped below his season average of 26 points per game in his last five games just averaging a shade over 23 points per game while seemingly concentrating more on crashing the boards. In his last five games, Anthony is averaging a near double-double with an average of 9.2 rebounds snagged nightly.
But, do you remember how these two teams finished up in Denver back on December 20th of 2007?