In three matchups against the Kings this season, the Rockets had lost by an average of nearly 14 points a game, giving up an average of 116 points per to Sacramento.
They finally were able to get some revenge, albeit barely.
After leading by as much as 19 points late in the second quarter of a ping-pong, turnover-prone game, the Rockets collapsed in the second half and saw Sacramento take a 4-point lead with 6 minutes to go.
The Rockets' backcourt however refused to lose.
Cuttino Mobley played like a superstar in the closing minutes, Shandon Anderson scored 14 of his 19 in the first half, Steve Francis scored 17 and 9 assists and surprise, surprise: Moochie Norris scored a career high 16 points.
It was the backcourt to the rescue.
Moochie played his second straight game of big minutes (25) and is establishing himself as the backup point guard. He nailed a "raise the roof" three-pointer with just over 3 minutes to go in the game that gave the Rockets the lead once again. Oh, I failed to mention his half court bomb at the end of the first quarter that was nothing but net.
No need to mooch ... Norris has game.
The odd guy out looks to be Bryce Drew (6 minutes, 3 points), though it's hard to make an assumption like that off just a few games. But Norris appears more suited for a backup role... Drew deserves a shot at starters minutes. Don't be surprised if he gets those minutes elsewhere next season.
Mobley just looked amazing down the stretch. He's a goat-one-night-hero-the-next type of player, and he was tough as nails down the stretch in this one, hitting a huge three or driving to the hoop for a tough runner. He led the Rockets with 22 points, and chimed in with 6 boards as well, in 33 minutes. Cat is on a tear lately.
Shandon was solid on both sides of the floor, scoring 19 points and picking 3 steals. He was robbed late of a slam dunk on a (pardon me) incredibly stupid foul by Steve Francis that nearly cost the Rockets the game.
With the Rockets up 100-96 and just over 5 seconds remaining, Shandon streaked in for a dunk and Francis grabbed Jon Barry (19 points, 8 assists, 6 boards) to keep him from blocking Shandon. They called an offensive foul, Chris Webber (29 points, 11 boards, 6 assists) nailed a three-pointer, and after two Francis free throws with just over 2 ticks left, Predrag Stojakovic barely missed a three that would have forced overtime.
Francis played well at times, scoring 17 points and dishing 9 handouts, but 8 turnovers, and the last one was just boneheaded for a floor leader.
Maybe it's the missing tooth ... got him off balance somewhat. Someone call EBAY.
The Rockets jumped out to a 14-7 lead thanks to Shandon, who scored 10 points, capping a 7-0 run with an emphatic slam off a Francis feed on the break.
Kenny Thomas nailed a three-pointer with just over 3 seconds to go to give the Rockets an 8-point edge, but then Shandon Anderson intercepted the full court inbounds pass from the Kings, found Moochie Norris who heaved a half-court bomb at the buzzer that was pure twine.
30-19 after one.
Moochie kept it going -- scoring another bucket, then found Cuttino underneath for two. The Rockets led 36-25. After a Bryce Drew bomb it was 40-27, and 42-29 after a Kelvin Cato slam off a Drew miss. When Steve Francis found Cuttino on the break for a slam, the Rockets led 48-32.
After Moochie picked Tony Delk and went the length of the court for a layup and foul, the Rockets led 53-34.
The third quarter was a nightmare for the Rockets however. 8 turnovers and outscored 26-16 by the Kings. Jon Barry was smoking and through three, the Rockets led by just 2 points, 75-73.
The Kings kept the pressure on in the fourth, and actually took the lead for the first time since 6-5. They led 82-78, but then Francis hit a "stop on a dime" three on a fast break to trim the Kings lead to 82-81. After a Mobley three it was 86-86.
Moochie than nailed a monster three-pointer from the top of the key with just over 3 minutes to go to make it 91-88 Rockets. Mobley then hit an amazing jumper to give him 19 points and up the lead to 5.
With just under a minute to go the Rockets led 96-91, but Nick Anderson nailed a three to make it a 2-point ballgame. The Rockets milked the clock but Cat missed a running jumper.
The Kings snared the board, took off on the break and Jon Barry was out ahead of the pack. Mobley sprinted back and flustered Barry enough where the layup rimmed out.
Francis grabbed the board and the Rockets appeared to have it in the bag, yet they still managed the big scare at he end.