So this is how Dallas felt.
Just 48 hours after they slaughtered the Mavericks by 37, the Rockets found themselves on the other end of the axe. Peja Stojakovic scored 25 points and Doug Christie added 23 as the Kings, without Chris Webber, just bulldozed the Rockets 113-77 Monday night.
The 36-point loss drops the Rockets to 6-5 on the season.
If Stojakovic is not the best shooter in the league, I shudder to think about facing whoever is. The Kings small forward torched the Rockets from just about anywhere with what seemed like an effortless jumper.
If the Rockets aren't the worst shooting team in the league so far this season, then I have nightmares about shelling out good money to see the Rockets face a team any worse. Houston shot 35.6% from the field and bricked 14 of their 17 three-point attempts. They settled for the perimeter game all night and when you're shooting that bad and not crashing the boards (Rockets were beat 51-36 on the glass), it's a suicidal combination.
Steve Francis led the Rockets with 18 points, 15 of which came in the first half. Cuttino Mobley struggled, finishing with 12 points -- he was beat consistently by Doug Christie (23 points, 7 assists, 6 boards), who was a huge boost for the Kings most of the night.
Kevin Willis had 10 points and 7 boards, and one flooring of Scott Pollard (12 points, 14 boards) in the fourth quarter, which got a flagrant foul and eventual ejection when big Kev mouthed off to the refs. Pollard however deserved it. It was amazing how the refs never saw this guy pitching his tent on the backs of Willis and Kenny Thomas (12 points, 7 boards).
To make matters worse, the garbage time "Rookie Report" wasn't so hot either.
Terence Morris went 0-3, meaning for the year so far he's 0-11. Eddie Griffin was just 1-7 from the floor and I think Rudy T is lying when he says Griffin is not a three at all, because all the Rocket coach has Griffin doing is hanging out beyond the arc and jacking threes and 20-footers.
So the Rockets fall to 6-5, and it does not get any easier. They play in Portland tonight, then Seattle, then the Clippers in LA. Then they come home to play these same Kings. Team better find their stroke soon, or they could easily slip back in to mediocrity.
Whatever the Rockets gained offensively against Dallas, they lost it going in to this game. The Rockets missed 8 of their first 9 shots and with 6:51 left in the first quarter, they had just four points, trailing 12-4.
The Rockets had to call timeout, but it paid no early dividends. Rice travelled and Cato got burned by Pollard for a reverse layin, and Special K picked up his second foul on the play.
Rice and KT missed back to back shots and the Rockets were 1-11 to start the game. Only Francis had anything going. After he drove coast to coast for two, then spun beautifully around Mike Bibby and found Willis underneath for a reverse layin, the Rockets trailed 16-10.
Things turned aroudn -- Mobley drove and scored a running bank, then Francis hit a jumper and on the next posession he stopped and popped a three right past Bibby and the Rockets ran off 7 straight to cut the lead to 21-19. Sacramento scored 4 straight to end the quarter, making it 25-19 Kings. Francis scored 11 of the Rockets 19 points while Peja Stojakovic led the Kings with 9.
Willis snared a board and found a streaking Francis for a slam, and after Oscar Torres burned Scott Pollard for a reverse layin deuce, he grabbed an offensive board and put it back in to make it 27-25 Sacramento.
After Torres hit a pair of free throws, bringing the Rockets to within 31-27, the team went ice cold, and Sacramento took advantage. When Hido Turkoglu hit a jumper in transition, the run was 10-1 for the Kings and Rudy T had to stop the action, trailing 41-28 with just over 3 minutes left in the half.
Kenny Thomas came back in and immediately scored 5 quick points, but the Rockets had no solution for the Kings. Just before the halftime horn, Stojakovic hit a 17-footer and Houston trailed at half 54-39.
The Rockets fired blanks in the half, shooting less than 38% in the half while the Kings were at 49%. Francis led the Rockets with 15 points on 6-10 shooting while KT and Torres added 7 each. Stojakovic led the Kings with 12.
Though Glen Rice hit a 20-footer to start the period, the Kings did not let up. Biby nailed a 17-footer, putting the Kings up 17 and the Rockets called timeout. After another long jumper from Stojakovic, Sacramento was up 20, 64-44.
But the Rockets, sparked by a 3-point play by Francis and a baseline triple by Mobley, ran off 9 straight points.
Doug Christie was smoking hot though... he was hustling all over the place and couldn't miss. When he threw up a three-pointer, making it 9 straight points for him, the crowd went nuts. But Mobley immediately sapped the crowd's emotion by countering with a triple. 63-52 Kings, timeout Sacramento.
Mobley went from potential hero to goat quick. He drove and put up a bad shot, and Thunderburke scored easily on the other end, then Cuttino turned it over, leading to an easy Stojakovic slam. 69-52 Kings.
Good gosh, Stojakovic does not miss. When he nailed a triple with 1.1 seconds left in the third quarter, the score was 82-64 Sacramento heading in to the fourth.
Francis led the Rockets with 18 while Cuttino had 12 (8 in the third). Kenny Thomas also had 12 to go with 7 boards, but the Kings had 23 from Stojakovic and 19 from Christie at this point.
The fourth quarter: Forget about it.
It went from ugly to uglier. After Scott Pollard tipped in a miss, the Kings were up 21. The lone highlight is when Willis let out his frustration and clobbered Pollard (who had been getting away with murder all night), picking up a flagrant foul. He then mouthed off to the ref, and picked up another technical, getting the heave. I loved seeing it... nice to see atleast one Rocket show some emotion.
Eventually Rudy took out his starters, knowing they'd be playing in Portland Tuesday night, and the Kings just rolled. Hell, even former Rocket Brent Price came in and nailed a triple (amazingly without getting injured), putting the Kings up by 36.
It was just nasty.