Yao Ming and Houston Rockets Looking No Further than Game Two

The Daily HurtCorrespondent IApril 21, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 18:  Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets drives against Joel Przybilla #10 of the Portland Trail Blazers during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2009 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2009 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Yao Ming knows not to get carried away.

Previous postseason heartbreak has taught him over and over that it's never about how you start, it's how you finish that counts.

Despite the Houston Rockets' Game One demolition of the Portland Trail Blazers, Yao has seen early series leads evaporate too often in the past to start thinking about the second round just yet.

In the series opener, Portland simply had no answer for Yao. Joel Pryzbilla was outclassed and outmatched.

In the end, he was just hoping that Yao would miss.

He didn't, not from the field (9-for-9) nor the free throw line (6-for-6) and finished with 24 points.

The Rockets had been so dominant that Yao didn't even attempt a field goal in the third period and he sat out entirely in the last.

In years gone by, Yao has been done in by injury or bad form, and also because he's never been the centerpiece for the Rockets on offense.

Tracy McGrady had always assumed control. However, now that he has been sidelined,  there is no question who runs the show for Houston.

Yao was ably supported by sophomore point guard Aaron Brooks. Brooks, who played his college ball at the University of Oregon, looked totally at ease with the keys to the Rockets offense. He had long been wanting an opportunity to prove he was good enough to be a starter at this level, and he showed it by scoring 27 points and handing out seven assists.

What was more impressive than Houston's margin of victory over one of the league's best home teams was the composure with which they played.

They controlled the game from the start and snuffed out any chance for a Blazers comeback.

Portland in no way resembled the team that stormed back into the postseason after a six-year absence. They were often second to the ball and looked like a team without a leader.

They have one, and a very good one at that, in Brandon Roy. But Roy struggled with his shot, and finished with 21 points. Apart from Greg Oden's 15 points off the bench, the Trail Blazers had no one else score in double figures.

Portland will need more than just Roy and Oden if they are to tie this series. Their home court, the Rose Garden, has historically been a place that has been unkind to visitors, especially during the playoffs.

Houston coach Rick Adelman should know that only too well. He was on the bench when the Blazers made two trips to the finals in the early 90s. The home crowd always gave the team a boost.

Also, Portland is going to have to be tougher on the glass. The Blazers were pounded 44-30 on the boards and even the unretireable Dikembe Mutombo came off the bench to grab nine, which was four more than anyone from Portland could muster.

Game Two is tonight in Portland.