Didn't we start the season 5-1?
Saturday night, the Rockets fell behind 17-2 to start the game, shot an abysmal 35% from the floor, yet still found themselves down just one to San Antonio midway through the fourth quarter.
But Tim Duncan (25 points) and the Spurs made all the critical baskets, using a 10-2 run late to pull away for the 85-75 victory in the Compaq Center.
The loss is the Rockets' 5th in a row, 9th in their last 11 games and drops their record to 7-10.
Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley: GET WELL SOON.
Oscar Torres played strong, shooting 9-16 from the floor and knocking down 3 bombs, to score a career high 21 points. Kenny Thomas also scored 21 for the Rockets, to go with 8 boards.
But Moochie Norris, Glen Rice, Walt Williams and Kevin Willis? A combined 11-45 from the floor (24.4%). Forget winning games, batting that kind of percentage should get you sent down to Double A ball.
I honestly can not recall a Rockets team starting off any worse than how this squad did Saturday night against the Spurs. Before you could blink it was 10-2, and shortly thereafter it was 17-2. Seventeen to two. The Rockets would just bring the ball up, toss up a brick or get it picked and Duncan would score easily on the other end.
The play in particular that jumped out was when Glen Rice had the ball on the wing, with Steve Smith defending, and he just stood there with Smith in his face. Smith just swiped the ball right out of Rice's hands. No play demonstrated more how the Spurs came to play at the outset, and the Rockets did not.
But the Rockets got back in to it, and the good news was Eddie Griffin's defense provided a big spark in a second quarter run.
Griffin had 3 blocks in the second period -- including one on each of the Spurs' towers. He blocked David Robinson from behind on a layup attempt in the paint, and a little later he blocked Duncan straight up when Duncan went right down the middle for a layin/slam. Griffin timed it perfectly and just tossed Duncan's attempt. It was awesome.
In just 16 minutes, Griffin scored 4 points, grabbed 7 boards and had the 3 rejections. The Rockets used a closing 11-2 run in the second to close within 5 at intermission, after having held the Spurs to just 8 points in the period.
Speaking of highlight plays, how about Tierre Brown schooling Antonio Daniels in the fourth. Tierre drove left, Daniels bit hard and Brown simply dribbled the ball behind his back to his right with his left hand, drove through the heart of the Spurs' defense and put in a gorgeous reverse layin. Awesome Part II.
After Danny Ferry hit a three to start the fourth, the Spurs were up 7, but Torres hit a triple, then so did Griffin... and when Walt Williams drove on Malik Rose, got the bucket and foul, the Rockets were poised to tie the game with over 9 minutes to go.
But Walt missed the FT and the Spurs never relinquished the lead.