Again with a near triple double. Against the Knicks he was one assist and two boards shy... this time just one assist away. Problem is, despite Francis' huge numbers, the team lost and two key missed free throws in the fourth by Francis could have helped
The NBA Gods are cruel.
Not only did we have to once again sit through that piss poor offense we thought only a Knicks game could produce, but we had to do it at home and take the loss.
The Rockets, who could get nothing going for almost 3 quarters, made a huge comeback and great defensive stand in the fourth quarter, but Chris Webber and the Kings were too strong in the final minute as Sacramento pulled out the 84-81 win in the Compaq Center.
The win drops the Rockets to .500 (18-18) and is their 7th loss in their last 8 home games.
"... on the road again.... I just can't wait to get on the road again .... "
Webber put up monster numbers (31 points, 14 rebounds), but the Rockets held him to 8-27 shooting (less than 30%). Problem is the Rockets couldn't contain Vlade Divac (8010 from the field, 18 points... 11 in the first quarter) nor Predrag Stojakovic, who added 18.
The rest of the Kings were non-factors.
Same could be said for the Rockets with the exception of a few.
Steve Francis played well... and led the Rockets in a furious fourth quarter comeback. The Rockets trailed by as much as 15 points in the third quarter before bursting on to the scene. Though Stevie didn't shoot well (9-23, 1-5 from 3-pt range), he finished with 23 points, grabbed 10 boards, handed out 9 assists (1 dish shy of a triple-double) and blocked 4 shots.
The Kings got hot early behind Predrag Stojakovic and Vlade Divac and led 10-4. It became a shootout however and when Shandon nailed a three the Rockets trailed 22-20.
The Kings ran off 5 unconsecutive points before a Kenny Thomas three made it 27-23 Kings. Webber and Divac scored before the quarter was out, making it 31-23 Kings after one.
Divac scored 11 points in the period and didn't miss a shot (5-5). Webber and Stojakovic each had 8. Kenny Thomas led the Rockets with 7.
KT opened the second with another bucket, but the Kings, sparked by Stojakovic, tore off on on an 11-2 run from there, making it 42-27.
But the Rockets responded. Behind Mo Taylor they went on a 10-2 run of their own, making it 44-37 Sacramento. A Webber three-point play bumped it back up to 10 for the Kings.
After Francis made a careless pass right to Stojakovic (for a dunk, giving him 16 points), the Rockets trailed 50-39. The Kings led 52-41 at intermission.
Kenny Thomas led the Rockets with 13 while Steve Francis had 9, though he shot just 3-9. The frontline combo of Divac, Webber and Stojakovic however combined for 41 of the Kings 52 points. The Rockets' bench did not score a single point in the first half.
The third began and the Rockets continued to get torched inside... after Doug Christie scored on an easy layup the Rockets were forced to call timeout with the Kings holding a 60-45 lead.
Shandon Anderson scored a deuce then led a fast break and converted a three-point play, making it 60-50 Kings, but Webber responded almost immediately with his own three-point play, bumping the edge back to 13.
The Kings built it up to 68-54, but when Shandon Anderson tipped in an offensive rebound with 0.4 seconds left in the third, the Rockets closed in to 69-61 with one period to go.
The Rockets were lucky to be that close... they shot less than 36% through three. Francis and Mo Taylor shot a combined 7-25 from the floor.
The Rockets scored early and after a steal and Francis slam the crowd erupted: The Rockets were within 4. A minute later Shandon nailed a fadeaway 15-footer and unbelievably it was 69-67 Kings.
A horrible call saw Chris Webber bowl over Kelvin Cato for a charge, but they called the foul on Cato. Webber made both free throws, making it 71-67 with 9:15 left.
Mobley was fouled on a shot but they didn't call it in the process of shooting -- so they inbounded and Cuttino missed an 18-footer. Divac on the other end converted a three-point play, boosting the Kings' lead back to 7.
When Kenny Thomas tipped in a Francis miss, the Rockets were within 74-71. When the Rockets forced a Webber miss, Francis got out on the break and found Shandon for a slam, making it 74-73 Sacramento with 5:30 to go. Houston crowd going berzerk.
Webber made a pair of free throws -- Francis got to the line but made just 1-2 from the charity stripe.
After a miss by the Rockets and two by Sacramento, Francis broke free for two and the game was all knotted up at 76 with just under 4 minutes to go.
Webber made 1-2 free throws. After Mobley missed a short drive, the Rockets forced the Kings in to a 24-second violation. Shandon Anderson miss a three that would have been huge.
Again the Kings missed, with Mo Taylor grabbing the defensive board. This time, Steve Francis made a gorgeous move, laying it in with the left hand and the Rockets took their first lead of the game, 78-77.
They forced another Kings miss and Francis grabbed his 10th board. Rocket ball with 1:33 left. Francis however missed an 18-footer and the Kings got the board and called timeout with 1:18 left.
Webber missed a shot, but grabbed his own board and got fouled. He went to the line and made both. 79-78 Kings, 1:01 left.
Mo Taylor posted and turned from 10-feet out and Houston led 80-79, but the Kings found Chris Webber who slammed and got fouled. He missed the free throw, but the Kings got the offensive board with 30 seconds left.
They found Webber underneath and he slammed again with 16 seconds left. Kings 83-80.
Francis was fouled with 11.5 ticks left, but he missed the first free throw, making the second. The Rockets fouled Doug Christie (85% foul shooter) immediately.
He missed the first free throw. The second he made. Kings 84, Rockets 81. 10.5 seconds left.
The Rockets couldn't get a shot off, ultimately finding Mo Taylor of all people when they needed a three. They turned it over and that was it.