Much like in football when you win games by playing 60 minutes, in basketball you win games by hustling and playing proficient basketball for 48 minutes. The Spurs, who are usually accustomed to doing that, couldn’t handle the red hot Rockets last night. Really, I never put too much emphasis on early NBA games which usually results to not writing a whole lot about the first few weeks up to a month.

However, I wrote to NBA.com a concise rant that included why the Spurs were/are a better team than the Rockets. I wrote to them because of their recent power rankings addition; they had the uplifting then-3-and-0 Rockets leapfrogging the once #1 3-0 Spurs. Aggravated? Yep, and I still am.

Last night, two division teams squared off, and the reigning champs were manhandled and put back into their places. Two years ago, the dismal Rockets lost to a Spurs team late in the year that didn’t have Tim Duncan. The Spurs had Duncan last night and he only posted up a horrid 14 point night that was turned uglier by being only five-for-fifteen (5-15) from the field.

Forcing things at the rim will do that to you. But Timmeh’ D knows that.

The Spurs are still the best team in the league in my eyes. They weren’t last night, however. But hey, I’m not labelling them as the hottest team in the league right now, because that title belongs to Tracy McGrady (who had a bad night as well as Duncan; 12 points, 4-14 from the field) and Co. Or should I say Yao Ming and Co.? Because last season, up until his injury in December, Yao was posting an MVP caliber season (28-13 last night.)

The Rockets hit up the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night while the Spurs tangle up with the Miami Heat tonight on ESPN.

Troy’s Take (closing thoughts): While I’m very impressed, not surprised, by the Rockets hot start to the NBA season, I’m still content on my prediction that the Southwest Division will come down to the Spurs and [Dallas] Mavericks, as it has the past couple of years, but I do acknowledge the Rockets as a top 5 team in the Western Conference.

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