Rockets-Pistons: Houston Pulls Out a Close One at the Palace

David LloydCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2009

The Rockets came out on the road firing against the Detroit Pistons. Early on, the team could not miss anything from the field. The team was one point shy of a 40-point first quarter and shot well over 60 percent from the field during the opening frame. 

The Rockets would take an early 15-point lead before the Pistons went on a run of their own to bring the game closer in the second quarter. The Rockets built their lead once again early in the second half. After another surge by the resilient Pistons, it all came down to one possession. 

With just over nine seconds left on the game clock in the fourth quarter, Rasheed Wallace would miss the potential game-tying three-pointer. The Pistons got the offensive rebound only to have Arron Affalo miss his three-point opportunity, sending the game into overtime.

Coach Rick Adelman spread the floor without Yao Ming in the lineup. Fortunately, the Rockets were not without Ron Artest or Tracy McGrady in tonight's game. Artest made his presence known on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, putting up 24 points, grabbing nine boards, and getting a steal.

Artest also made some critical free-throws to help secure the win for the Rockets. Shane Battier was feeling it tonight, going 4-of-5 from downtown. He did not have a field goal attempt that was not outside the perimeter. Rafer Alston also chimed in with a double-double, scoring 14 points and 10 assists.

This was a game the Rockets should have been able to put away much more convincingly than they did. Blowing a double-digit fourth quarter lead would have been a blow to the team's psyche, especially to a slumping Pistons team. But a win is a win, especially on a day that saw two division rivals drop games to the Celtics and Lakers.

Coach Adelman was confident that the smaller lineup would be able to move the ball in transition and catch the Pistons off guard. It seemed to do just that. 

Yao Ming will miss tomorrow night's game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. It has yet to be determined if his knee will be healthy enough to allow him to play Wednesday night when the Rockets return home to take on Philadelphia.