It is truly the "Year of the Ex-Rocket".
Sam Cassell burned us. Mario Elie did some big damage. Even Chucky Brown has had his way in the paint.
However, one of the deadliest (and streakiest) ex-Rockets of them all, Vernon Maxwell, was in typical Mad Max form Saturday night, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the final quarter to lead the Sonics past the Rockets 110-107 in Seattle.
The loss is the Rockets' 4th straight and drops their record to 2-9.
Steve Francis led the Rockets with 27 points, and played well against Sonic point guard Gary Payton (26 points, 10 assists, 5 boards, 5 turnovers). Francis added 5 assists, 7 rebounds and 7 turnovers.
The Rockets were in the game and led late at 97-95 thanks to 8 three-pointers in the final frame, but couldn't stop Vernon down the stretch.
Cuttino Mobley broke out of his slump and hit two big three-pointers late, finishing with 19 points on 7-13 shooting, including 4-5 from the cheap seats, 5 assists and 3 boards. Shandon Anderson also played well, scoring 14 points, 5 boards and 4 assists in 28 minutes of action.
Charles Barkley on the other hand was awful, finishing with 10 points and 11 boards but hit just 3-13 shots.
Carlos Rogers though was terrific off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 boards in 22 minutes of play. This guy is screaming to see solid PT.
Matt Bullard came off the IR (Thomas Hamilton took his place) and hit 3-4 from long range for 9 points.
The important sidenote was all Dream though. Hakeem Olajuwon scored 16 points on 8-13 shooting, and picked 2 steals to put him at the 2000 steals mark for his career. Hakeem becomes the first player ever in NBA history to record 2000 steals and 2000 blocks for a career. Props to Olajuwon for such a brilliant career -- just thankful we've been there to watch it.
As for the current Rocket squad, there were bright spots, but the Sonics were without Vin Baker and the Rockets couldn't take advantage. It seems they just don't know how to win down the stretch.