Cuttino Mobley returned to action, and ironically the Rockets haven't looked this sharp since the first game he missed.
Houston welcomed back their starting two-guard and dished out 27 assists as a team, fueling the Rockets to a rout of the Sixers 97-72.
Houston improves their mark to 11-8, currently half a game behind the Spurs and Jazz. As for the Sixers, keep in mind they are no slouches. They were tops in the Eastern Conference coming in to this one at 15-5, thanks to 29.3 points per game by Allen Iverson.
That was before he came to Houston.
The Rockets shut down "The Answer", holding him to 11 points, forcing 14 misses in his 19 shots and getting him to cough it up 9 times. Shut down Iverson and you shut down Philly.
Consider not only did the Rockets put the clamps down on AI, but:
... and you got yourselves a rout.
- They hit almost 50% of their shots from the floor.
- They nailed well over 50% from long range.
- They dished out a season-high 27 dimes.
There are two very big reasons to watch the Rockets these days: Yao and Ming. When Yao Ming is in the game, the Rockets are just flat out interesting and entertaining. When the dude's on the pine, you're desperately seeking to be enlightened with intelligent play.
He didn't disappoint tonight. He scored 18 points on 8-11 shooting and grabbed 12 boards. Man he brought down the house when he got the ball in the post, dished it nonchalantly to a cutting/driving Francis who went up for a slam. When Francis was contested and ended up missing the shot, Yao came flying in, grabbed it mid-air and threw it down.
In his last 3 games, Yao is averaging 14.3 boards a night, with 5.7 of those being offensive.
Mobley meanwhile played great ball tonight in his return. He hit 7-13 shots, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the first half, and dishing out 4 assists. His energy seemed to help the team.
Steve Francis meanwhile led all scorers with 20, and also handed out 7 assists and grabbed 5 boards. Kenny Thomas was impressive also -- 14 points, 6 boards and 6 assists ... 6 assists for Kenny! I wasn't aware Kenny was capable of even passing the ball 6 times.
Glen Rice also added 10 points, pushing all 5 starters in double figures. In fact Rocket starters outscored Philly's starters 78-48.