This ... is a tough loss to take.
Houston's offense was yet again hideous, hitting just 37% of their shots from the field, and no adjustments were really ever made as Golden State led almost the entire way, halting a Rocket comeback late to beat the Rockets 86-84 in the Compaq Center.
The Rockets fall to 17-14 and help a Western Conference opponent improve to 13-19.
These are games the Rockets simply can't afford to lose.
Golden State, led by Troy Murphy (career high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds), seemed ready to put the nail in the coffin, leading by 9 with about 4 minutes to go. But Houston came back. A Steve Francis triple and two very big offensive boards/hoops by Yao Ming brought the score to a tie.
But one key play gave back the momentum to Golden State.
Tied at 82, Bobby Sura picked Francis cleanly from the blind side, and raced in past Cuttino Mobley for a layin, staking the Warriors to an 84-82 edge. Yao again tied it, but Earl Boykins (who at just 5'5" looks like Steve Francis' "Mini Me", but managed to kill the Rockets just about every second he was in there) hit a monster shot in the lane that proved to be the game-winner.
Both Mobley and Francis missed shots that could have tied it.
Mobley led the Rockets with 27 points and was the only player having a good shooting night. He was simply amazing in the third quarter when he poured in 12 points to jumpstart the offense. He also grabbed 8 boards in the game.
But as good as he was in the third, he was about that bad in the fourth. He was held scoreless, going 0-3 from the field, including an airball on a forced three and a bad shot for the tie in the final minute.
But Mobley shot well for the game -- the bad shooting nights belonged to everyone else, primarily Francis, Eddie Griffin and Yao Ming.
The Franchise was a frigid 5-19 from the field, yet the Rockets still elected to give him the ball with 5.7 seconds left for the tie. Shouldn't be too much of a surprise that it wasn't really even close and even less of a surprise either that no offensive adjustments were made by Rudy T either.
Griffin played just 19 minutes and was just 3-10 from the floor. Yao started out ice cold, hitting just 1 of his first 8 shots, but he turned it on late (unfortunately too late). He did come up with 17 boards (6 offensive) and a pair of blocks, but he was physically beat on most of the night by Erick Dampier and Adonal Foyle.
Speaking of Dampier, anyone know what the deal is that he's got going on there behind his neck? Looks like someone used it for dart practice. Scary thought. I digress.
In summary, I liked the Rockets hustle most of the night and their defense (though after a while you would think someone would get out on Troy Murphy for those 18-feet baseline jumpers), but this offense is not just a one-night crapfest. It's the same offense that shot 29% against the Knicks -- it's really this bad. And it's even scarier to think that a team with Yao Ming is still going to rely solely on the outside jumper to win ballgames.
Close on that thought reminding you that the Warriors made three 3-pointers and the Rockets made four. The Warriors took five threes all night. Houston took seventeen.
The Rockets started out ice cold, going scoreless for the first 4 minutes of play.... and Golden State was happy to capitalize. Behind Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, they got up 8-0 and the Rockets just looked flat.
But second chances helped the Rockets.
Despite missing 9 of their first 10 shots, the Rocks crashed the offensive glass and took advantage of multiple opportunities. After Yao Ming tip-slammed in a Cuttino Mobley miss and then Mobley drained a triple just shy of the baseline, Houston was within 12-11.
After one: Warriors 26, Rockets 22. Mobley led the Rockets with 5 while Francis, Griffin and Rice each had 4. Yao was just 1-5 from the floor for 3 points. Richardson and Troy Murphy had 8 to pace the Warriors.
The Rockets couldn't do much for most of the second half. The lead remained at 4 before the Warriors busted it out to 9 midway through. Golden State went for the final shot of the half also, trying to go up by 8 or 9, but James Posey picked a Bobby Sura pass, threw it to a streaking Francis threw up a 20-foot jumper at the buzzer... good! At half, Warriors 50, Rockets 46.
Mobley led the Rockets with 15 while Francis had 10 and 5 assists.
The third quarter was exciting hoops, and Mobley led the charge.
On three or four straight possessions, Mobley busted in to the lane for a left-handed scoop shot or layin. It was unreal. After Mobley made his fourth straight, giving him 27 points on the night, the Rockets had their first lead at 64-63.
Golden State had to call timeout about 15 seconds later as Yao Ming grabbed a Warriors miss, threw it to Francis and he in turn made a beautiful bounce pass to a streaking Maurice Taylor for a slam.
But from there the Rockets scoring stopped in the third, and Golden State ran off 6 straight of their own, taking a 69-66 edge in to the fourth.
After Moochie Norris scored and Mo Taylor tipped in a Rocket miss, the Rockets had the lead 70-69, but their offense went even more south from there. Golden State, led by Murphy, roared out on a 12-2 run, holding a 9-point edge.
But they came back.
Francis hit a huge triple with just over 3 minutes left and with just over a minute and a half left, Yao got a tough board on a Francis missed drive and put it back in under heavy traffic, getting the hoop and the foul. His free throw tied the game at 82 and the fans were going nuts.
The Warriors then missed a shot, but Francis on the other end was dribbling in traffic a little out of control, dribbled back out and from the blind side Bobby Sura picked him clean and went the other way for a layin.
Yao then came up huge again -- snaring another offensive board and putting it back in on a 5-foot jumper dead center in the lane, but Earl Boykins hit a huge running shot from about 16 feet out.
It then was up to Cuttino Mobley, but his shot was ugly, ugly, ugly ... a broken play where he was rejected soundly off the baseline. The Rockets held the Warriors on the other end, getting the ball back down 86-84 with 5.7 seconds left, but Francis shot was way off and a jump ball with 1.1 seconds left played no role in the outcome.
A tough loss to take.