Despite the fact the Lakers were without Kobe Bryant (injured) and Shaquille O'Neal (suspended), the Rockets, without Charles Barkley in their own right, didn't appear like they could beat anyone the way they had been playing.
The Rockets didn't just beat the Lakers, they crushed them 97-81 in LA's new home The Staples Center.
It was the Rockets first win of the season, moving their record to 1-5, while the Lakers fell to 5-2.
Without Barkley (and some would say without another player to clog the lanes), the Rockets ran successfully thanks to rookie point guard Steve Francis. Francis led all scorers with 22 points and handed out 7 assists. He hit 3-6 from long range, grabbed 4 boards but also turned the ball over 6 times. Despite that, a very good game for Francis, who clearly needs to be the focus of this team.
He got help from all sides. Hakeem Olajuwon scored 12 points, grabbed 11 boards, blocked 6 shots and picked 4 steals (Hakeem currently tied for 4th in the league with 2.6 steals/game).
Carlos Rogers was fantastic off the bench, going 6-6 for 16 points, 6 boards, a block and a steal in 26 minutes of play. This guy's energy impressed me so much in the Laker game in Houston and hopefully he's showing Rudy he deserves solid minutes every night.
Bryce Drew as well was great on the marksmanship, hitting 5-6 for 12 points. Shandon Anderson (9 points, 7 boards) and Tony Massenburg (8 points, 5 boards) also made solid contributions.
No Laker scored more than 11 points as Glen Rice was held to 2-12 shooting from the floor. The Rockets shut down the Lakers to the tune of 33.7% shooting, while the Rocks (amazingly) hit 49.3%.
Is beating the Lakers without Shaq and Kobe something to put up on your mantle? No, not really. But the Rockets couldn't do it Wednesday at home, and this time they did it on the road convincingly and they'll take their first win any way they can get it. No rest as the Rockets take on the Warriors tonight on the West coast.