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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Curse of the Zegers

Subject: Give and Go
Date: March 11, 2008 7:43 AM PDT

As jinxes go, the "Curse of the Zegers" has a ways to go before it catches up to the "Curse of the Bambino" or that of that billy-goat. The Rockets are 6-0 since you accused me of jinxing them in this column. Of course, they're also riding a 19-game winning streak -- the second-longest in NBA history -- and seem to have two more highly-winnable games (at Atlanta, Charlotte) on the schedule before they face a real challenge against the Lakers this Sunday.

This streak would be remarkable even if they hadn't lost their all-NBA center in the middle.

How are they doing this? It seems that they've landed in a "best of both worlds" situation -- they're still executing Jeff Van Gundy-style stifling defense, but they've become comfortable in Rick Adelman's open and flexible offense -- and the two systems seem to complement each other far better than most would have expected.

Adelman also seems to be doing a remarkably good job of pulling the strings -- he got 11 points out of little-used Steve Novak last night, and his decision to start 74-year-old Dikembe Mutombo is looking particularly brilliant. Did you see how ol' Deke goaded Richard Jefferson into a technical last night with his finger-wagging?

And we can't forget our kindred spirit, stat-geek general manager Daryl Morey, who assembled a very deep roster.

Since you're our resident Rockets scientist, I'll defer to you for a full explanation. How far can they carry this momentum? Are they a legit title contender?

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