It was no doubt a great win, huge confidence booster, especially coming from behind from the beginning of the fourth. Everyone stepped up big in the fourth quarter, especially Yao. Here are the key points led to this win, in my opinion.
No. 1, the officiating - I don't know whether the article about martial arts, or Adelman's complaint about too physical, or it's on national TV, unlike previous game on NBATV, or the referees are not named Tony Brothers, Joe Crawford, Violet Palmer, or Dick Bavetta. They set the tone really early with 2 quick fouls in opening minutes on Pryzilla, to punish his pushing/clothing/climbing. The message was loud and clear - no martial arts.
No. 2, Rick and Yao did the adjustment - Rick talked about how Yao shouldn't be fighting for positions that hard every possession, and he should have picked his spots and timing. Yao indeed did that last night, instead of fighting for down low position every time he ran down the floor, he mixed it with high post and then rolled down to both blocks, and changed tempo and timing on when to post. Other players were lot more patient to get Yao the ball, swing the ball from side to side, post then re-post. Yao also played big, didn't fall in love with turnaround jumpers, especially they didn't fall. His baby hooks from both left and right are just money. When he got Pryzilla pinned down under the basket to get off those 6 foot hooks, it's a true beauty of big man's game.
No. 3, I wanted to credit to the collective effort of crashing the boards, those offensive rebounds from Scola, Landry, Yao, Lowry, were huge. Those what lost us the Utah series, could well be the key to win this series. But I decided to attribute this No. 3 key for the win, to Shane Battier, what a performance. I always liked Shane very much, but I have to say that I love him in this series. He's no longer just a defensive specialist, but also a leader of the team, on the court and in the locker room. Comparing to noshows in Utah series, his offensive output, points/assists, and hard nosed defense to make Roy work, and his rebounds/steals, rotation, smartness in all small balls like inbounding etc, really helped the team greatly. I seriously see great signs of Big Shot Bob in him.
This is such a precious win for the Rockets. It wasn't pretty, but grind-out hard-fought playoff win. They protected the home court, now let's go to Portland and finish them. They were up 2-0 in 05-06, and 06-07, but they were never up 3-1. It looks good. The team was growing, so is Yao. Hopefully I am not speaking too soon, but they got to finish this.