Another tight game, but unfortunately another one that goes in the loss column.
With the game winding down to the final second, Steve Francis hit a shot fading to his right just outside the free throw line, but it was waived off for coming after the clock had expired as the Cavaliers beat the Rockets in Cleveland 111-109 Wednesday night.
The loss drops the Rockets record to 16-33 on the season.
Replays showed waiving Francis' shot off was the correct call. He let it go a tenth or two too late. Rudy T, assistant coaches and some of the players ran to press row to check out a replay, and nodded that it was the right call after seeing it.
It was down to the wire in the final minutes.
Oscar Torres, who had his best game in some time with 13 points, hit a huge three with 1:11 left to tie the game at 106. After Andre Miller (31 points, 13 assists, 7 boards) hit a turnaround with 54 seconds left, Francis drove, was fouled and nailed the layin with the left hand with 46.5 seconds left.
When he made the free throw, Cleveland called timeout and the Rockets had a 109-108 edge.
Lamond Murray missed two shot opportunities, but the Cavs got the offensive board both times. The third time Murray scored and was fouled. It was a complete BS phantom foul call, but it didn't matter since Murray missed the freebie.
Francis then drove the left baseline but missed a tough drive. Eddie Griffin got the offensive board, but was rejected soundly by Murray on the putback. Andre Miller got the rebound and was fouled on the fast break. After he made just 1-2 with just over 6 seconds left, it set up Francis for the final shot.
Francis scored 25 points, handed out 10 assists and grabbed 6 caroms off the glass while turning it over just twice. He also scored 9 of the Rockets final 11 in the first period. Cuttino Mobley shot lights out in the second half. 27 of his 29 points came in the final two quarters.
It's a shame though the Rockets couldn't play much defense, and they're starting to get a reputation for bad defense around the league. Matt Guokas, Cavs' color man, just tore the Rockets apart for they're poor play on the defensive end and belittled them as a "bad defensive team" that even the Cavs could score easily on. Miller, who does not have much range on his jumpshot, was nailing open jumpers most of the night (12-21 from the field) while Wesley Person feasted on open looks, hitting 10-12 shots (I would venture to guess all his shots were jumpers)
Griffin scored 11 points, hit a could threes and blocked a pair of shots, but could connect on just 4-12 shooting. Moochie Norris added 9 points while Dan Langhi saw 19 minutes of playing time, scoring 6 points and grabbing 4 boards.
Kenny Thomas did not play due to the calf injury he suffered in the Rockets win over Utah.
Now? The All Star break. Hopefully this team can lick their wounds and come back strong in the second half of the season... or cement a better position for a top lottery pick.