You see the complete impact Steve Francis has on the Houston Rockets once he's gone.
Playing without their leader, the Rockets got tossed by the Sonics 99-81 Friday night, dropping their season record to 7-6.
The Rockets weren't the only ones that got tossed. With 4:49 left in the third, Rudy Tomjanovich had to be restrained by his assistant coaches to keep from going after the refs, and was tossed as a result.
Rudy had a right to be pissed -- he was protesting two absurd calls (one a charge and another a non-call when Gary Payton was practically committing assault) against Oscar Torres. The Sonics built up a 13-point lead at that stage.
Seattle was up by as many as 18 points, and the Rocks staged an impressive comeback, capped by a Moochie Norris 3-pointer with 5:24 left that cut it to 6, 85-79.
But that was as close as they got. Desmond Mason (21 points in 28 minutes) was too strong down the stretch and Brent Barry (15 points and how in the world was he allowed to get 10 boards?) hit back-to-back salt-in-the-wound threes to seal the deal.
In Francis' absence, Moochie played well, scoring 19 points on 8-18 shooting to go with 6 dimes. Cuttino Mobley led the Rocks with 21 points and grabbed 7 boards... he also hit 3-4 from long range.
But the best news was the play of Eddie Griffin. Griffin, who has gotten little playing time and when he has played, has done little more than heave a few threes, came off the bench to score 16 points, including 13 in the second period. Eddie played a strong mid-range game, working opponents with a turnaround jumper, and also hit 2-5 from beyond the arc.
It was a good sign.
Not a good sign? The play of Glen Rice. Glen played 24 minutes of absolutely zero-impact ball. 0-3 from the floor, including 2 bricks from downtown, and 4 fouls. No points. With Francis out, the Rockets can't survive that kind of showing from Glen.
The franchise won't survive the next three years for that matter.