Breaking even is nice.
Especially when you started last season 2-10.
The Rockets took their first lead in the fourth quarter and didn't let it go, beating the Vancouver Grizzlies 85-78 in the Compaq Center.
The team moved to .500 ball with a 3-3 record.
Maurice Taylor scored 21 points, all through 3 quarters, to go with 5 assists. Steve Francis added 19 points, 6 assists, 8 boards and 3 steals, though he did have 6 more turnovers. Cuttino Mobley added 15 thanks to 11-14 free throws.
Myself? I went to the first clutchcity.net "Austin Rocketball Association" meeting with a group from the BBS -- headed on over to a local pub called The Tavern here in Austin and watched the game.
Had a great time meeting and talking with everybody... that is until I found out what Jeff Balke was doing last night.
The Rockets gave him a pair of tickets to the game, but not just any tickets. Les Alexander's courtside tickets. A gift from Les himself for his work on SaveOurRockets.com.
I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.
Then they actually rubbed it in by saying Walt Williams gave them a high five after he nailed the three with 10:30 to go to put the Rockets up for good.
Go away, no ... don't talk to me.
Anyhow, back to the Austin group. Great bunch of guys... and a few gals I might add. A lot of fun was had. We actually busted in on a private party but got a table right next to a nice tube showing the game.
Early on it was nothing but groans about Jason Collier. By mid-second quarter I actually heard requests for more Collier post-ups. Many wondered why he wasn't in the game and I believe one person even dared to call him the franchise. It was learned on this night that everything must revolve around Collier.
Collier showed a nice touch from the outside and ran the floor extremely well -- on one fast break he outran his man and took a perfect feed from Francis for the layup. He scored all of his 8 points in the first half and finished with 4 boards.
What impressed the group the most? Walt Williams' mastery of the three-ball (4-5 from long range -- the place erupted when he hit the lead-taking three), Steve Francis' ability to crash the offensive glass (6 of his 8 boards were offensive) and Maurice Taylor's supposedly suspect defense -- Mo T played surprisingly well on Shareef Abdur-Rahim (17 points).
As we discussed after the game, Francis has an amazing ability to find the ball. Mo Taylor, if you watch him, also works hard on the glass, but he doesn't have anywhere near the rebounding instincts that the 6'3" guard does.
Another hot discussion that went on: Who would you rather have? Michael Dickerson or Cuttino Mobley? That got some good answers... most felt Mobley was perfect for the growing Rockets, but if they were still a top contending team, Dickerson would be the man.
I think that argument will rage on for a while.
Good game, good win and now the Rockets prep for a huge road trip with back to back games against arguably the strongest teams in the leage: in Portland Saturday and in LA Sunday to play the Lakers.
As for the Austin Rocketball fans, stay tuned... all of us will be hooking up more often to watch games this season so details will be posted on the site (and not just hours in advance which was the case this time). Also look for a group getting together in Houston.