With the Rockets down 15 midway through the fourth quarter, their guards took it upon themselves to make something happen.
Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis put on a strong display down the stretch, fueling an improbable Rocket comeback in Boston as the Rockets stunned the Celtics 101-95 in overtime.
The win, coupled with the Suns' loss in Chicago to the Bulls, puts the Rockets (30-26) back in the West playoff bracket at #8 - a half-game up on Phoenix and a half-game back of the Lakers for #7.
They can thank the offensive (and at times, defensive) fireworks display put on by their guards.
Mobley has slipped quite a bit this season at the three-point line (he came in to the game shooting 31.6% from beyond the arc - down from 39.5% last season), but not tonight. He hit 5-9 from long range and scored 9 quick points in a row to tie the game late (two triples and a three-point play). He not only hit a clutch three late in regulation, but did so in overtime also, turning a one-point deficit in to a 95-93 edge -- a lead the Rockets would not relinquish.
Very strong game tonight - he finished with 31 points and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds.
Francis was just as impressive. Steve, who has been blasted for his defense over his career (and quite frankly, rightfully so), picked the Celtics' pockets twice late, both times leading to 3 points from Mobley in fast break transition. He finished with 33 points, dished out 9 assists and grabbed 9 boards.
64 points, 19 boards, 12 assists and 12 collective asses saved by the guard duo. Can't say enough about how much they impacted the win.
With that said... how about some love for Yao Ming? You fellas know Yao - big Chinese man, about 7-foot-6, seen busting his tail in the post for 40 solid minutes trying to get open, and who got just 2 shots (making both) thanks to the likes of James Posey and Glen Rice having some semblance of mercy on the man getting pounded on by the Celtics.
Hey, great win, but most nights Francis and Mobley won't put up 38 shots combined at an over 55% clip. We can't rely on their shooting to win ballgames when you have a young force in the paint.
Still, if not for Francis and Mobley, watching tonight's game would have been a lot less entertaining. Except for Tommy Heinsohn, the Boston TV color man who has bled Celtic Pride since birth. I thought poor Tommy was going to have a heart attack ripping on the refs, particularly the refs "ignoring Yao Ming camping in the paint" for over 3 seconds.
Of course, Tommy conveniently missed Yao stepping out of the colored area in time and at one point, Tommy went ballistic on the refs the second Yao stepped in to the paint. I thought there was a delay in the audio/video feed.... like about 3 seconds.
To think CBS once hired the guy as an NBA announcer, and us Rockets fans had to sit and listen to his "impartial" rants during the Rockets-Celtics '86 NBA Finals.