Just when I thought "The Wheel" was the ugliest product the NBA could turn out.
Playing without Steve Francis (another migraine), the Rockets put on a dismal shooting display, shooting around 30% most of the night (finishing at 36%), but somehow managed to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 85-78 Tuesday night in the Compaq Center.
The win ups the Rockets mark to 17-33.
We're getting awfully close to Lottery Race time, and in that event, you could say the Grizzlies just wanted it a little bit less. It's tough to lose to a team hitting at a 36% clip, but where there's no will, there's a way.
Cuttino Mobley started out having hit 4-20 shots on the night, but finished the night at 10-29 to lead all scorers with 26 points. He sealed the game with a steal of a Grizzlies inbounds pass (intended for Shane Battier) and three-point play conversion on the other end with 28.1 ticks left, putting the Rockets up 6.
Moochie Norris, playing in Francis' stead, also did not shoot very well (6-16), but overall played well, finishing with 21 points and 7 assists. He hit all 8 freebies attempted and of his 4 boards, 3 were on the offensive glass.
Pau Gasol (25 points, 11 boards, 6 assists) got the better of his rookie matchup against Eddie Griffin (10 points, 6 boards, 1 block). Eddie gave up a few inches and it showed... despite the leaping ability and shot block timing of Griffin, Gasol was able to get in the lane and hit hooks over Eddie a few times.
Kenny Thomas snared 14 boards to go along with 12 points while Kelvin Cato continues his inspired play, grabbing 13 boards and hit all 3 of his field goal attempts for 8 points.
The poor shooting would have done the Rockets in had it not been for a very nice advantage at the free throw line. The Rockets hit 21-27 at the stripe while Memphis was just 7-12.
Right off the bat, the Rockets got bad news: Steve Francis was not playing due to yet another migraine. Just a frustrating and now severe problem for the team... hopefully Steve gets better.
Pau Gasol showed early why he is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, scoring 11 points in the first to go with 3 boards and a block, but when Moochie Norris hit a three at the first quarter buzzer, the Rockets led 24-22 after one.
Cuttino Mobley led the Rockets with 8 points (3-9 shooting) in the first while Kenny Thomas added 5.
Cuttino really struggled in the second quarter, going just 1-6 from the floor for a total of 4-15 from the field by halftime. But Moochie stepped up his game, having scored 12 points and dished 5 assists by half, but the Rockets trailed 46-44 going in to the break.
Shane Battier teamed with Gasol in the second quarter and by half the two Memphis rookies had 28 points combined. Mobley had 11 and Kenny Thomas had 7 and 8 boards.
The third quarter.... oh man, you had to laugh just to keep from crying. The Rockets shot so poorly... they dipped under 30% shooting for the game. Mobley brick. Moochie clank. Griffin shank. KT misfire. It was ridiculous....
When Moochie hit a three-pointer with 2:17 left in the third, it ended what seemed like a 10-minute drought without a field goal (the Rockets had just 5 points for the period at that point). But it opened the floodgates... .the Rockets finished on a 10-3 run from there, and unbelievably trailed by just 2 going in to the fourth, 61-59.
The Rockets were shooting just 33.3% for the game through three. Mobley had 16 points, but was 6-21 from the floor and Moochie had 15 (5-14 shooting).
Picking it up late in the fourth, Mobley drove the lane and put in a tough left-handed finger roll with just over 3 minutes to go, but Rodney Buford hit a long jumper to cut it to 75-69 Rockets.
After Kenny Thomas snared an offensive board, Mobley went to the rack and scored.
The Rockets seemed to have it in hand, up by 8 with just over a minute to go, but Gasol scored, Battier hit a free throw and Tony Massenburg got a deuce. When Mobley committed an offensive foul with just over 30 seconds to go, the Grizz had a chance to tie.
But Mobley stole an inbounds pass to Battier, went the length of the court, made the bucket and was fouled by Battier with 28.1 ticks left. He made the freebie and the Rockets led 80-74 and had the game.