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12/15/2000 - Houston Chronicle
Rockets left flat-footed
12/15/2000 - Houston Chronicle
Taylor, Thomas keep Rockets close
12/15/2000 - Denver Post
Van Exel, Denver do Texas two-step
12/15/2000 - Rocky Mountain News
Nuggets fuel Rockets' fizzle
Rocks Fall Just Short
Rockets can't nip Nuggets in final minutes, fall 102-100 at home
By Clutch
DECEMBER 16, 2000 10:46 PM  |  BOX SCORE  |  HISTORY VS. NUGGETS

The man was all over the place in the third and early parts of the fourth, showing Nick who's really Quick. Francis finished with 26 points on 11-19 shooting (pair of threes), 9 boards (6 offensive) and 4 assists.
I hope this was a smoke and mirrors job Matt because God Bless ya you've been tearing it up as of late. "Bull" missed 6 of his 7 shot attempts and all of them were from beyond the arc
Trailing by 15 early in the third quarter, the Rockets, behind Steve Francis, came storming back and actually led by 5 midway through the fourth quarter.

But it wasn't meant to be.

Francis went down with an ankle sprain and the Rockets momentum went with it as the Nuggets eeked out the 102-100 win in the Compaq Center.

Cuttino Mobley picked Nick Van Exel's pocket in the closing seconds but his 13-footer as time expired wouldn't go down.

The tough-to-swallow loss drops the Rockets record to 13-10 and puts them at 9th in the Western Conference.

It's a damn shame too, because it seemed Francis, who was smoking in the second half, was going to lead them to the Promised Land. Steve scored 21 points combined in the third and first half of the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-high 26 points on 11-19 shooting, 9 boards (6 offensive) and 4 assists.

Problem is Van Exel was just as good, scoring 26 points and dishing 8 dimes... Nick also did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 17 in the final two quarters.

As for Francis' ankle, he left the game after twisting it with over 5 minutes to go, and returned with around 3 minutes to go, but wasn't the same on the ankle.

"When I came back it didn't feel like it did at the beginning of the game," said Steve. "But I'm not going to miss a game because of a sprained ankle.

Still, we would have seen OT had Mobley (20 points, 6-16 shooting) nailed the final shot. The Nuggets inbounded with just over 5 seconds left and up 2. Mobley forced the Van Exel turnover and quickly fired... no dice.

The Rockets power forwards had good games. In 27 minutes Maurice Taylor scored 16 points and grabbed 5 boards -- Kenny Thomas logged one minute more, but scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting and corralled 9 rebounds.

Shandon Anderson scored 8 points while Hakeem Olajuwon finished with 6 and 7 boards, but managed to hit just 3-10 shots. Matt Bullard, after being so hot, turned ice cold... going 1-7 from the field -- ALL those shots being three-point attempts.

Antonio McDyess scored 17 points and 20 boards for the Nuggets while Voshon Lenard, inexcusably, was allowed to pop off for 19, 6 boards and 5 assists.


Clutch can be reached at clutch@clutchcity.net and also can be followed on Twitter



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