Kelvin Cato, come back soon.
Never this season has the Rockets weakness in the paint been so evident as the Rockets, playing without Cato (sprained right wrist), saw Alonzo Mourning hit 12-15 shots, score 28 points and block 9 shots through three quarters to lead the Heat past the Rockets 111-99 in Miami.
The loss is the second straight for the Rockets and drops their record to 10-22.
Though the game became a blowout in the third quarter, the Rockets really let it slip at the end of the half when a 4-point game became an 11-point deficit in a hurry. The Heat increased their lead to 89-67 after three and coasted from there.
Mourning, as expected, had his way in the paint. Even with Cato the Rockets lack size, but without him the Rockets have basically nil in the intimidation department down low.
Steve Francis led the Rockets, scoring 22 points on 7-15 from the floor and handing out 6 assists. He was blocked a couple of times by Zo on drive attempts, but Stevie wasn't givin' out any love Mourning's way.
"He fouled me every single time I was over the rim ... I'm going to lift weights tomorrow and get my legs stronger so next time I play him I'll put it on his head five times."
Man, I busted up when I read that. You got to love the kid's fire and determination... even if we were getting pasted by 20+ points. It's as if he's saying, "So, he blocked me... next time I'm going to poster his overpaid ass"
Francis led the team in scoring, but Shandon Anderson had a very good game starting in the SF slot. Shandon hit 6-9 for 17 points to go with 5 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Walt Williams played a lot of garbage minutes (i.e. the fourth quarter) and scored 15 of his 17 in the final frame. He also grabbed 4 boards. Cuttino Mobley scored 12 points while Carlos Rogers scored 7 points and grabbed 6 boards.
Kenny Thomas is an interesting one. He had an awful shooting night, hitting just 3-14 shots and finishing with 10 points, 7 boards and 4 assists in the most minutes he's played in any game this year (35). Thomas got some attention when Eric Karabell of the ESPN Rookie Report called him the 4th best rebounder of all the Rookies this season, behind Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and Adrian Griffin.
Karabell even said "if the Rockets would play this guy, he'd be getting eight or nine boards a night, guaranteed".
Hmm, Rudy must have listened and to Mr. Karabell: Kenny got 7.
Also noteworthy is that newly signed (to the dreaded 10-day contract) Pig Miller got in the box score, playing 8 minutes, grabbing 2 boards and missing the only shot he took.
Overall the Heat defense was just too much. The Rockets shot just under 42% (were shooting less than 39% before garbage time) while the Heat sizzled to the tune of nearly 54%.
Only two Rockets put up more than 10 shots -- Francis (15) and Kenny Thomas (14).
Both rookies. You know you're a team in transition then.