Full Recap coming...
Game Notes found below
The bad news came early -- Steve Francis would not play due to the flu. Kenny Thomas, as expected, was also not available due to a hip pointer.
The first minute started out great, with Eddie Griffin hitting two mid-range jumpers off the baseline to get the Rockets up 4-2. But it ended there. The Lakers ran off 11 straight points. After Moochie Norris hit a jumper to end the run, Samaki Walker and Rick Fox each scored easily inside, and the Rockets had to call timeout, down 17-6.
Moochie came out of the break on fire.... he scored two straight buckets, then found Cato underneath for a wide-open slam. After Kobe Bryant scored, Mooch then nailed a 20-footer and it was 19-14 Lakers. When Cuttino Mobley found Griffin for a reverse two-hand slam, it was 21-16 Lakers.
After one, it was 23-16 Lakers. Moochie led the Rockets with 8 on 4-6 shooting while Griffin added 6. Kobe (10 points, 3 assists, 2 boards) got the best of Mobley, who was 0-5 from the field (and 0-3 from long range). The Rockets shot just 36% from the floor in the first quarter while the Lakers hit just under 46%.
The second quarter the Lakers pulled away. After Robert Horry scored on a driving deuce and after Tierre Brown threw a pass that bounced off Kevin Willis' hands, Mitch Richmond hit a three and it was 37-22 Lakers. Another Richmond three, followed by a Derek Fisher jumper made it 42-26 Lakers.
Mobley finally got on the board at the 6:20+ mark of the second quarter with two free throws. He was 0-7 from the floor at this point.
The Rockets cut the lead to 10 in the final minute of the half after Mobley hit two free throws and Walt Williams drained a triple, but Horry hit a wide-open three (after the Rockets triple-teamed Kobe with the ball) with just over 3 seconds left in the quarter, giving us the halftime score of Lakers 55, Rockets 42.
At half, the Lakers bench outscored that of the Rockets 22-11. The Rockets were 2-9 from long-range compared to the Lakers' 5-9. Moochie led the Rockets with 10 points and 4 assists while Walt added 7. Cuttino had decent all-around numbers at 6 points, 5 boards and 4 dimes, but was 0-8 from the floor. Kobe on the other hand had 14 and 6 assists while Rick Fox added 9 points.
Mobley drove right off the bat and had a shot goaltended clearly by Samaki Walker -- but they didn't call it. The Rockets got the ball back and tt resulted in Cato getting fouled going for two (he made 1-2 at the line), but Walt twisted his ankle on the play and had to leave the game.
The Rockets cut it to 55-47, but the Lakers, sparked by a Rick Fox three, ran off 7 straight points to boost the lead back to 15. Mobley missed two more shots (now 0-11 from the floor), but Moochie and Cato each scored to make it 62-51 Lakers.
Crazy play ... Eddie Griffin swatted Rick Fox, but Derek Fisher got it behind the halfcourt line, drove through two Rockets and threw up a prayer from 25-feet out.... it sank. 72-57 Lakers.
Mobley finally made a basket from the floor -- a triple -- midway through the third. He hit another later to give him what would be his only two made baskets from the floor for the game. He was 2-16 through three quarters, but had 18 points thanks to 12-12 shooting at the line, as the Rockets trailed 84-70 through three.
Cat missed a shot early in the fourth and soon called it a night. Apparently so did the Rockets. LA just made it a rout and the only interesting thing left was Willis clapping sarcastically afer a foul call against him and getting tossed by the ref with 7:15 to go.