It didn't matter that Kobe Bryant was not playing.
Because Shaquille O'Neal was playing.
The big fella ripped in to the Rockets' front line, and amazingly put up 36 points, 14 boards and 7 assists in just 34 minutes of play as the Lakers roughed up the Rockets 95-78 Sunday night in LA.
The Rockets did their part, putting on an ugly-ass shooting display, missing two-thirds of their shot attempts in falling to 21-37 on the year.
Moochie Norris missed all 5 of his attempts, Cuttino Mobley missed 10 of his 12, Kelvin Cato has been AWOL the last two games and Eddie Griffin missed all 8 of his tosses.
And not to get off track from this hideous game too much, but where the hell is Eddie Griffin these days? Is his mind gone? Confidence shot? This is the nervous, low-impact rookie we saw at the start of the year... not the three-nailing, shot-blocking 19-year old terror that graced us with his presence early mid-season.
There's not much point left to this Rockets season... but one of the big points is to make sure Eddie continues to develop.
While those players shot poorly, the same could not be said for Shaq, who only managed to hit 15 of his 21 attempts. Damn, the Diesel is just a terror. He's stepping up his game too lately, so if he keeps this up the West can't be too thrilled about the playoffs coming up.
Steve Francis led the Rockets with 20 points, but hit just 7-20 from the floor and turned the ball over more time than he set up his 'mates (4 assists, 6 turnovers). To see that from your point guard, it just kills your team.
Walt Williams had another solid game, and could be vying to get back in to the starting lineup. 6-8 shots for 19 points in just 21 minutes up off the pine. Again he nailed 4 triples, making it 8 total in his last two contests.
Kenny Thomas added 9 points and 7 boards while Kevin Willis came off the bench to score 10 and grab 7 caroms as well.