Stephon Marbury will simply never live this one down.
In front of a national TV audience with all the hype from his New York Knick home debut, all his childhood friends from Coney Island and family in attendance, all the talk about his ownership of Steve Francis...
And Francis humiliated him.
Steve scored 27 points, grabbed 8 boards, dished 6 assists, picked 3 steals and blocked a pair of shots, including a Marbury drive, while holding the new Knicks prize to 6 points as the Rockets routed New York 111-79 in Madison Square Garden.
The loss sent the Knicks reeling, talking about firing their head coach (and former Rockets coach) Don Chaney any moment now.
On the other hand, the win puts the Rockets at 20-15 on the season and the 111 points was the most they've scored all year -- and it's only the fourth time this season in 35 games that the Rockets have gone over 100 points.
And this offensive explosion came less than 24 hours after Houston could muster just 66 points against Detroit.
Lets face it -- Marbury isn't going to be able to shake this from his mind anytime soon. Ironic that it was almost a year ago to the day that Marbury was yelling to Francis that he was a fake All-Star and Stephon was the real deal during a 102-96 Rockets win over Phoenix in Houston.
Yes, it was only Marbury's second game on a new team and yes he was nervous on the big stage in front of his friends, but Francis used and abused him ... going right at him at times. In the third at one point, Francis challenged him, crossed him right over which brought a gasp out of the crowd, and drained a long jumper right in his face.
No doubt the "true All-Star", who has now been traded 4 times in his career, was embarrassed by that one.
But it wasn't just Francis who was hot for the Rockets.
Jim Jackson had one of his best games in a Rockets uniform, hitting 8-11 shots (going 4-6 from beyond the arc) for 21 points, 7 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals. He couldn't buy a freebie (1-4 from the charity stripe), but he was huge in New York.
Yao Ming had 15 points and 9 boards, all through three quarters, and Maurice Taylor matched the output as well. Cuttino Mobley added 14.
After the score was tied 2-2, the Rockets scored 21 straight points to take a 23-2 edge. The Knicks never cut the lead in to single digits again.
All the hype and hoopla surrounding this game and you would have thought the new-look Knicks were going to be fired up and ready to play some ball.
The Rockets just leveled the Knicks and the fans right from the start.
Houston hit the first 7 shots it took and shut down the Knicks, jumping out to an incredible 23-2 edge. Somehow the Rockets managed to put their usual two-quarter offensive output in to one, finishing the period with a 31-14 lead. Jim Jackson had 10 points, including a pair of triples, in the period, while Yao Ming hit 2 shots and 4 free throws for 8 points.
The second quarter saw the Rockets offense we've come to know and hate. Houston started out slow and New York started to get it going, putting up a 12-3 run ealy in the period that got the Knicks within 11.
But the Rockets, led by Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley, got the fire back. Mobley nailed three triples in the period while Francis had a gorgeous drive past three defenders where he switched the ball mid-jump to his left hand for the tough layin.
At halftime, the Rockets led 54-37. Francis had 9 points, 6 boards and 4 assists while Mobley had 11. Yao and Jackson each had 10. The Rockets were hitting 50% of their shots, holding the Knicks to 34% shooting.
The third quarter? As Knicks fans would say, "fuhget about it".
The Rockets steamrolled the Knicks, giving no reason for the lifeless crowd to enjoy the game and bringing out chants of "FIRE CHANEY" - concerning Knicks coach Don Chaney. Houston put up 32 points in the period and kept up the three-point barrage.
Just before the end of the third, Francis crossed over Marbury something silly, drawing a deep "ooooh" from the Madison Square Garden crowd, then nailed a 19-footer right in his mug. It capped a terrific third quarter for Steve, who scored 14 in the frame.
Heading in to the fourth: Houston 86, New York 60. Francis had 23 points, 8 boards, 5 assists and 3 steals.
The fourth was a mere formality. Francis scored 4 more points before watching the rest of the period on the pine. The Rocks upped the lead to 32 and boos were coming down.
I have to admit though ... it was nice to see Bostjan Nachbar nail an 18-footer in garbage time.
Great showing tonight by the Rockets on both ends of the floor.