Jason Collier and Cuttino Mobley each got off shots in the final seconds for the win.
Both missed, and so too was the opportunity for the Rockets to get a win over another playoff-bound team.
Courtesy of the missed chances by the Rockets, the Portland TrailBlazers escaped the Compaq Center with an 80-79 victory Friday night, improving to 47-33 and dropping the Rockets to 28-51 on the season.
The final minute of the game was frantic.
Francis was fouled with just over a minute it play, making both free throws to put the Rockets up 79-78. Eddie Griffin then blocked Rasheed Wallace and the place was rocking... but the Rockets committed a costly 24-second violation.
That set up Bonzi Wells, who drove from the left wing, went up over two defenders baseline and put in a tough layup that bounced around before going in.
No timeouts -- the Rockets immediately went the other way. Somehow, the ball ended up in Jason Collier's hands with 5 seconds left and 19 feet away from the basket. The biggun' put up the open jumper but it was long... the Rockets got the loose ball, and Moochie threw it out to Cuttino on the far wing just off baseline for a tough triple at the buzzer...
No dice. And the Blazers had escaped.
Mobley laid on the floor crushed and it was obvious Moochie desperately wanted the win .... but cheer up fellas. With 3 games left in the season, it's all about the Balls.
Cuttino led the Rockets with 24 points, putting up nearly twice as many shots as any other Rocket 99-22 from the field). Steve Francis scored 14 and had 8 assists. Blazers guard Bonzi Wells led all scorers with 29 (with the biggest two being the game-winning shot).
Eddie Griffin did a good job off the bench, though he connected on just 4-12 shots. He finished with 10 points, 6 boards and 3 big blocks. Moochie Norris also provided some help off the bench, putting up 9 points, 6 boards and 5 assists.
It was an ugly affair though, and I'm not just talking about Quitten. Both teams shot under 40% from the floor, with the Rockets putting up some 25 three-pointers, but making just 7.
Also interesting to note that Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter of Maryland (recent NCAA champs) were in attendance courtesy of Maryland alum Francis. Now if only they could get their sophomore buddy Chris Wilcox to come (and get in the damn draft) as well.