The Rockets were just awful to start the game. They went right to Yao and he looked pretty bad, picking up two fouls fairly early and earning a seat on the bench. The Rocks were completely scoreless until the 7:51 mark of the first quarter and had just 4 points through the first nearly 8 minutes of the game. In the quiet Toyota Center it was a morgue and you could clearly hear some boos starting.
Francis, despite going 0-3 from the floor in the period, would later save some Rocket face with some nifty passing. He had three quick assists to get the Rockets going, including a nice full-court pass to a streaking Mobley for two. He had six assists in the period.
Despite Yao, Francis and Cuttino Mobley going a combined 2-11 from the floor, the Rockets still led 16-14 after one.
The offense came around in the second quarter, thanks to Maurice Taylor. Mo hit 4-5 shots in the period and dished a couple of assists, including one at the second quarter buzzer to Jim Jackson, who nailed a 19-foot shot as the horn sounded. At half, the Rockets led 42-32.
For a change, the power forwards were leading the way: Taylor had 12 points and 6 boards while Kelvin Cato, playing heavier minutes than usual in Yao's stead, had 9 points, 5 boards and a block. The Rockets defense was the real story as they held the Warriors to 33% shooting.
Mobley and Jim Jackson both came alive in the third and the Rockets kept the Warriors at bay, leading 66-53 after three. Strangely Francis was completely scoreless, going 0-7 from the floor, yet he had 11 assists (season high).
Francis missed his first three shots of the fourth and it was unbelievable -- 0-10 shooting.
The Warriors were threatening and every Rocket was struggling, except one: Maurice Taylor. Through the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, Mo was 5-7 from the floor while the rest of the Rockets were 0-9. His hot shooting was enough to keep the lead in double digits.
And with just under 2 minutes left in the game, Francis hit a runner in the lane that brought out huge cheers from the crowd. Stevie laughed and threw his arms up in the air. He was off the hook of a goose egg.