There was a duel at the point guard position Saturday night.
Baron Davis and Steve Francis put up monster numbers, but it was Francis' Rockets winning out in the end as the Rocks beat the Hornets 111-104 in overtime in Charlotte.
The win improves the Rockets record to 14-30, snapping a 4-game slide.
Francis put up 30 points, 8 boards and 8 assists. Davis meanwhile put down 34 points, dished out 11 assists and hit 6 triples... and also had one massive, highlight-reel-for-months dunk over Eddie Griffin late that had the Charlotte crowd in a frenzy. Nasty I must admit.... nasty.
While that's nasty, the end of regulation was just torture.
Davis hit a driving layup with 5.4 seconds left in the game to put the Hornets up 96-94, and after Charlotte used their foul to give, Cuttino Mobley put up a clutch 15-foot fadeaway at the buzzer that bounced around the rim 4 times (well after the horn sounded) before going in. Cat sprinted up the court and we were going to OT.
Mobley had another strong outing, scoring 27 points on 8-19 shooting and hitting all 9 of his free throw attempts. After making the big shot to force OT, he hit two key shots early in overtime, then made a gorgeous pass down low to Kelvin Cato for a slam.
Speaking of strong outings, the scowl is back.
Cato is starting to display some of that hustle and energy that got him that now infmaous $42 million contract back in late 1999. He grabbed a season high 15 rebounds, including 8 offensive, scored 13 points on 6-10 shooting, picked 2 steals, blocked a pair of shots (including a straight flush rejection of a Jamaal Magloire dunk attempt) and seemed to be everywhere.
When the Rockets needed a dirty job done, Cato willingly did it and came up big. Just seemed to be everywhere. Where has this energy been? Did his agent tell him he's in a contract year? What's the deal? This is a completely different player we're seeing, which has got to mean Cato's big problem is motivation.
Tonight he was motivated.
Early on the Rockets looked just horrid... one of the worst flowing offense games of the year. But that changed late in the second quarter.
Over a 3-minute span just before half, the Rockets played some of their best basketball all season. Trailing 41-33, the Rockets exploded out on a 17-1 run. Oscar Torres (12 points, 6-7 shooting) scored 8 of those points, coming on a triple, a three-point play and a layup from an amazing half-court, Magic Johnson-style, overhand bounce pass that Francis threw him that seemed to come in at 100mph. Awesome play by Francis...
Eddie Griffin nailed back to back bombs early in the third to put the Rockets up 57-51, and had a strong night, scoring 16 points, grabbing 9 boards (3 offensive) and blocking a pair.