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11/7/2001 - Houston Chronicle
Rockets hold off Sixers surge to claim 77-72 win
11/7/2001 - Houston Chronicle
Rockets' Thomas steps it up in fourth quarter
11/7/2001 - Houston Chronicle
Despite appearances, Rice shows signs of life
11/7/2001 - Philadelphia Daily News
McKie's return helps, but it's not enough
11/7/2001 - Philadelphia Daily News
Mobley looking out for Griffin
11/7/2001 - Philadelphia Inquirer
Good addition, bad result
11/7/2001 - Philadelphia Inquirer
Facing Philadelphia a big deal for Griffin
Rocks Out-Ugly Sixers
Houston continues mastery of East with 77-72 win over Philly
By Jeff Balke
NOVEMBER 8, 2001 10:43 PM  |  BOX SCORE  |  HISTORY VS. 76ERS

It is really nice to see Rice knock down some shots. Not only is he looking comfortable, he told Lisa Malosky that he is having more fun in Houston than he has had in several years. If Rice can continue to improve, this team will be tough to beat.
Willis had his first rough game of the season knocking down only one of TEN SHOTS for 2 points. He grabbed his usual 9 boards but his offense was AWOL tonight.
It doesn't matter how you win them, only that you win. The Rockets are fortunate that is true because if they scored on form, they would probably be 1-5 instead of 5-1.

Houston continued its dominance over Eastern Conference opponents with a 77-72 victory over the lowly Philadelphia 76er's who drop their record to 0-5. At least they can blame it on injuries with Allen Iverson, Eric Snow and Matt Geiger all in street clothes for the beginning of the season.

This was even the first outing for Aaron McKie who is returning from shoulder surgery in the offseason.

Despite the injury-filled lineup of the Sixers, the Rockets managed to make the subs look downright good at times. Playing passively and, at times, sloppy, the Rocks did everything they could to keep the game close.

Both teams had terrible shooting nights and looked more like they were in preseason. But, like the other four wins the Rockets have, it was defense and clutch shooting that brought home another win.

Glen Rice managed to shake off some more rust and pitched in a season high 14 points shooting 50% from the floor and 2-5 from the three point line.

Philadelphia did a very good job on Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley limiting them to 18 and 11 points respectively on a combined 10-26 shooting. The duo came in averaging 44 points per game.

Francis pitched in his usual 6 assists and 7 boards as well as hitting some clutch shots down the stretch.

Philly was paced by Derrick Coleman with 20 points and 9 boards while Dikembe Mutumbo went off for 16 points and 18 boards.

To call the game ugly would be an insult to ugly people everywhere. If it wasn't the Sixers 0-4 shooting and 4 turnovers to start the first quarter, it was the Rockets 0-12 shooting to start the fourth.

Both teams struggled their way through both halves shooting only 40 percent for the game. Despite the poor shooting, Houston seemed to have some degree of control out there at times building as much as a nine-point lead in the first half.

The Rockets seemed overly intimidated by Mutumbo who managed only one block in the game. On numerous occassions, Houston forced bad shots or turned the ball over out of fear of the long arm of the Mountain. Even Mobley, a normally clutch shooter, short-armed a shot down the stretch that could have created some real problems.

Kenny Thomas was the man down the stretch. It's wierd to say it but he has been one of the most consistent pressure players this season. He put in 14 despite a tough first half and got 6 straight in a crucial part of the fourth quarter.

Unlike the past couple of years, the Rockets are finding ways to win games, ugly or not. It's hard to imagine how good this team could be if they could get their act together and play consistently on the offensive end.

Game Notes...
The Rockets got things started early with a Kelvin Cato shot right over Dikembe Mutumbo with left hand to start the game.

Houston's defense was tough limiting the Sixers to 0-4 shooting with 4 turnovers to start the game including a Cuttino Mobley block of Aaron McKie's first shot attempt for a 24-second shot clock violation.

Steve Francis' dish to Cato for the slam give the Rocks a 6-0 lead early and the offensive highlights continue with two straight three's by Glen Rice.

Despite the solid defense, the Rockets 5 turnovers give Philly life. Back-to-back offensive rebounds and an 8-2 run makes it a one-point game with 3 minutes left in the first.

Rice continues his offensive game with a great move over Mutumbo but he's the only one as the Rockets seem intimidated by the Mountain despite the fact that he isn't even challenging shots.

Sloppy passing and ballhandling along with 5 offensive rebounds by Philadelphia (Mutumbo had 6 boards in the first) means the Rockets lead only 19-15 at the end of the first.

The second quarter begins as ugly as the first. Neither team can hit shots and the Rockets continue to struggle on the boards.

Francis hits first basked at 10:25 left in 2nd with the shot clock running out and continues his run with 6 straight points to give the Rockets their largest lead of the game at 28-19.

Derrick Coleman comes back with a reversal over Eddie Griffin to make the game 30-27 but Griffin comes back for a 3-pointer.

With 2:09 left in the half, Speedy Claxton hits a bucket to tie the game at 33.

After Mutumbo hits a pair of freethrows, the Sixers lead for the first time 35-33 with under 2 minutes to go in the 2nd.

The Rockets manage to miss their final two shots of the quarter but keep the game tied at 35 at the half despite a 17-5 run by the Sixers.

Ugly shooting is confirmed as Philadelphia shot 35% in the half and the Rockets 39%.

The second half begins with a breakaway dunk by Francis to give the Rockets back the lead.

Mobley and Claxton each hit a pair of shots and when Rice hits a long jumper, it caps an 8-2 tun by the Rockets to push the lead to 50-44.

The Sixers hang tough with a steal by Coleman and an easy slam plus 3 consecutive shots hit by Claxton.

Kenny Thomas really begins to assert himself with a couple of blocks on Coleman and solid offensive moves on the other end of the floor.

With 8 seconds remaining in the 3rd, Francis caps a 12-4 run by the Rockets by taking the ball the length of the court for a finger roll layup and a nine-point lead, 64-55.

The fourth doesn't start will as Mutumbo continues to intimidate on the interior creating a pair of misses by Moochie Norris and Kevin Willis that turns into a three pointer by McKie at the other end.

Both teams are struggling on offense but the Rockets are much worse starting the fourth 0-12 from the floor.

After a Mutumbo hook shot, the Sixers close to within 2 points, 65-63 with 5:40 left in the game.

Thomas then takes over with a pair of freethrows followed by a high arching layup and a runner in the lane to push the lead to 71-65.

Great defense by the Rocks leads to a Cato dunk but Coleman pulls Philly back within 6 with a shot in the lane.

After a Francis miss, Claxton misses a layup and Mobley misses another jumper. Things are a tad sloppy, but Coleman puts in a layup with 1 minute left to make it 73-69.

Mobley immediately goes down and fires up a short-armed jumper looking terrified by Mutumbo who didn't even jump.

Matt Harpring appeared to save a ball when replays clearly showed he was at least 2 feet out of bounds. Despite the missed call, Harpring misses a WIDE open three. Unfortunately, Mutumbo picks his 18th rebound of the game and is causes Cato to foul out.

After missing one of two freebies, the score is 73-70 when Rice is fouled with only 26.2 left. He drains them both for a five-point lead.

Claxton creates an easy dunk for Mutumbo, taking only 5 seconds off the clock, but Mobley and Francis dribble out of a trap in the backcourt and take it all the way down to 7.1 seconds before Francis is fouled.

Franchise hits both free throws to make it 77-72 -- ballgame.


Jeff Balke can be reached at jeff@clutchcity.net



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