We've said it before, but this is the best the Rockets have looked all season.
With a rejuvenated Hakeem Olajuwon, a hot-shooting Matt Bullard and an unstoppable guard duo of Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis, the Rockets absolutely humiliated the league's best team in their own building.
Rockets 112, Sixers 87.
That's correct... a 25-point ass-whooping of Allen Iverson and the once 36-13 Philadelphia 76ers.
The Rockets, who improved to 24-25, are absolutely dominating Eastern Conference teams, winning 13 of 16 against the East this season.
What a game to be stuck elsewhere. Had a late night at work that kept me from witnessing the trouncing on the tube and got updates while at the office from the Clutch Chat crazies. Place was going berzerk... just an amazing performance from the Rocks.
They did it with defense too, picking 14 steals from Philly, forcing 20 turnovers, and turning it over just 10 times themselves.
It starts with Olajuwon, who has gone from aging malcontent to hap-hap-happily kicking some serious tail in the paint. The Dream posted 18 points, a season-high 14 boards (including 8 offensive -- a sign of how active he's becoming), 3 steals and a block in just 25 minutes. He put up 9 of his 18 in the third quarter.
How ironic is it that there are only 3 teams with better records than the Miami Heat in the East, and in the past 48 hours Olajuwon just took 2 of them to the woodshed.
Welcome to Pat Riley's personal hell.
Francis as well was brilliant, hitting 9-17 shots for 23 points, 6 assists, 3 boards and a pair of steals. Rockets kept pouring it on that reportedly Francis and Sixers coach Larry Brown were having some heated words at the end of the game.
The coach was apparently hacked because Shandon Anderson threw an alleyoop to Dan Langhi in the final second, and the Francis-Brown shouting match ensued.
Brown's only comment on it was, "They played great until the last five-tenths of a second."
Responded Francis in kind, "I love Larry Brown. I'd be mad, too, if I was just spanked at home."
And as good as he was, Bullard was shooting even better. Matt hasn't played much lately, but he responded in grand fashion, draining 3 triples in the second quarter, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the first half.
While Francis and Bullard hit the shots, Mobley did not, going just 5-16 from the floor -- but he more than made up for that. Cat was 12-12 from the FT line, grabbed 9 boards and picked 5 steals to go with his 23 points.
Cuttino Mobley putting up something other than points? Say it is so.
Iverson led the Sixers with 26, but hit just 10-28 from the field. Theo Ratliff added 14 points.