And it's a good thing he put up huge numbers in the final quarter of Tuesday night's game also.
The Rockets point guard scored 16 of the Rockets final 18 points Tuesday night, while Eddie Griffin swatted an Arvydas Sabonis layup attempt in the late seconds as the Rockets came from behind and held on to beat Portland 86-83, improving to 4-2 on the year.
What makes Francis' performance so amazing is he elevated his game tremendously after getting slammed to the floor brutally hard by Rasheed Wallace in the third quarter.
Franchise went up for a slam, Wallace went viciously hard for the block, caught Steve's elbow and flipped him backwards and parallel to the ground. Steve landed hard on the floor, with most of his weight towards his head. You could hear a frickin' pin drop in the arena.
Badly I wanted to give the game ball to Juaquin Hawkins, but you can't give enough credit to Steve Francis. He made the gutsy plays down the stretch and put up big numbers. Yet another big night for Franchise.
The Rockets know Cuttino Mobley can be unstoppable offensively, but are still waiting for him to develop the basketball IQ and team-oriented passing skills.
Fortunately the new Rockets arena deal is a 30-year pact.
Wallace got a flagrant-1 foul, and Francis got back up ... and ended up scorching the Blazers. 30 points on 11-22 shooting, 6 boards, 5 assists and a huge drive with 20 seconds left that put the Rockets up 85-83.
Steve is now averaging 30.3 points, 8 boards and 5.5 assists while hitting 51.6% of his shots. These are All-Star numbers. These are All-World numbers. These are Yao Ming-in-China numbers.
Another hero - Eddie. After Francis' shot, the Blazers worked it in to Sabonis, who had the size advantage and good low post position. He turned in for the layup and Eddie flat out stamped return to sender on it. The kind of play you love to see the 20-year old make - a gutsy play in a big game. Got to help his confidence. That and shutting down Rasheed to 2-14 shooting, which was huge. 14 points, 9 boards and 2 blocks for Eddie.
My player of the game though is Juaquin Hawkins. It is so refreshing to see a player busting his ass on the defensive side of the ball, willing to do the little things, and Hawkins did that every second he was in the game. He had 4 steals, a couple of big offensive boards and nailed the only three-ball he took. Hawkins was a huge boost.
Give props also to Yao Ming. He played just 15 minutes, but hit both shots he took from the floor and all 3 free throws. He got a feed from Francis early in the game, pump faked his man and threw down a slam, then in the second half had a sweet move where he went by his guy to the right, cut to the hoop and hit a bank shot over a defender and got fouled. Fans went gonzo to boot. 7 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and a block in the limited action.
This was Maurice Taylor's first game back from the drug suspension and he was clearly rusty, missing 5 of his 6 shots in 13 minutes. I did like the one he made though, a throw-down hammer jam in transition.
Cuttino Mobley was not sharp either, going just 3-12 from the floor and putting up some incredibly stupid shots. While this is nothing new for him, the one where he airballed the triple-pump layup after driving on 4 defenders just left you scratching your head. Just 7 points for Mobley -- the fewest points he's scored since he put up just 5 last season against the Bulls.