It's Official: The Rockets will miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
The referees made sure of it.
Two blown calls helped the Nuggets as Voshon Lenard nailed a tough jumper just off the baseline with 2 seconds left to give Denver a 100-99 win over the Rockets.
The loss eliminates the Rockets, who had to win their remaining games and hope the Timberwolves lose all of theirs. A longshot at best, but no longer even that now.
The officiating in the final minute was honest to goodness a travesty to this game and in our opinion the NBA is facing a crisis -- piss-poor officiating.
With 12 seconds left in the game, Mobley fought for a loose ball and it went out of bounds ... off Denver. The ref made the right call, but the officials convened and reversed the call, giving the ball to Denver. As if changing posession wasn't bad enough, Robert Pack drove baseline and clearly stepped out of bounds... no whistle.
He passed to Lenard who hit the winning shot.
Reminds me of Don Beebe and that classic Bills-Oilers game, but lets not go there.
There's not much left to say about the officiating. The Rockets have been screwed by these stiffs on probably double-digit occasions this season, and it's a shame.
Wasted great games from the Rocket guard combo of Cuttino Mobley and Moochie Norris. Mobley nailed 11-19 shots for a game-high 27 points, 6 boards and 5 assists while Moochie scored 19 of his 25 in the second period alone.
Steve Francis added 14 points, 11 boards and 7 assists -- a near trip-doub -- but he could manage to connect on just 6-17 shots.
The great news was seeing Dan Langhi get serious action (perhaps a sign that Rudy T wants as badly as we do that 12th pick in the draft). Langhi played 31 minutes, hitting 5-11 shots for 13 points and 5 boards and nearly posterizing Kevin Willis with a slam (he missed but was fouled).
For the life of me I'll never understand why Rudy T did not play Carlos Rogers much at all this season. All he did when he played was produce, which can't be said for some. In his first 12 minutes of action he grabbed 9 boards, finishing with 12 in 26 minutes of PT.
Former Rocket Willis was a beast for the Nuggets, grabbing 20 boards to go along with 17 points. Robert Pack had a huge game as well: 20 points and 13 boards.
Steve Francis left the game after bumping knees with Robert Pack, and the Rockets fell behind early. Denver, behind former Rocket Kevin Willis, jumped out to a 26-15 lead before a 9-2 run fueled by Matt Bullard and Kenny Thomas got the Rockets to within four.
After one it was 30-24 Nuggets. The Nuggets had 13 fast break points to the Rockets' 4.
KT had 8 points and 4 boards while Mobley added 6 and Bullard 5. Willis had 9 for Denver.
The second quarter? A MOOCHIE EXPLOSION!
Afro Thunder had no points after one, but in the second quarter he went gonzo, nailing 7-10 shots for 19 points. The backup point guard went off for 19 in the quarter!
Regardless, Voshon Lenard scored before the half and the Nuggets still had the lead going in to the locker room, 52-49. Mobley added 10 points for the Rockets. Willis had 11 points and 10 boards for Denver while Robert Pack already had 10 assists to go with 8 points.
The Rockets guards took turns and in the third it was Mobley's go-around. The Cat scored 11 points in the third, giving him 21 through three, and Francis had 9, 8 boards and 6 assists through three. Carlos Rogers meanwhile (why does he not play again?) grabbed 9 boards in just 12 minutes of play.
Still, the Rockets trailed heading in to the fourth: Denver 80, Houston 77.
When Steve Francis nailed a jumper and Carlos Rogers a pair of free throws, the Rockets were down just one, and a Langhi jumper put Houston up 85-84 with 9:45 left in the game.
When Francis hit a three with 8:47 remaining, the Nuggets had to call timeout as the Rockets took a 4-point edge 88-84.
OH MAN! Did you see the move from Dan Langhi? He faked his man baseline, drove and went up for a vicious slam over Kevin Willis... he was fouled and didn't make the slam but boy did he get seriously airborne! When Dan made both free throws, the Rockets led 90-84.
But Voshon Lenard nailed a three, starting a 10-2 Nuggets run capped by a Willis hook, and just like that the Nugz had the lead at 92-90. Carlos Rogers countered with a hoop, but Willis responded with another hook.
When Mobley drove past LaFrentz for a soft, left-handed layin, the game was tied up at 96 with 2:57 to go.
After a few misses, Moochie hit a huge bucket with 2 minutes left putting the Rockets up 98-96, and when Robert Pack missed a three, Dan Langhi skied for the board and was fouled. Langhi hit 1-2 to put Houston up 3 with just under a minute to go.
Pack came out of a timeout and nailed a wide open 17-footer with 37.5 seconds left. The Rockets milked the clock and Moochie put up a 20-footer as the shot clock was nearing expiration. On the rebound Mobley and one of the Nuggets fought for it and lost it out of bounds.
The ref called "Rockets ball", but after the other refs conferred, they reveresed the call, giving it to Denver.
Pack drove baseline and seemed to step out of bounds -- no call -- Pack threw it to Voshon Lenard who hit a tough double-pump shot with 2.0 seconds left.
Denver 100, Houston 99. Timeout Rocks.
Francis threw up a desperation 30-footer at the buzzer, but it was no good.