The league must now take notice.
The Rockets, facing a Florida jinx that has spanned since 1995 and has seen the Rockets drop 17 straight to the Heat and Magic, showed this isn't the same "old" Houston club.
The Rocks spanked the Atlantic Division-leading Heat 101-88 in the Compaq Center, their 6th straight win to up their record to 16-24.
The Rockets hit a season-high 15 three-pointers and were led by none other than Matt Bullard.
Believe it. Bullard stroked the nets from threeball-land 6 of the 10 time he shot from back there. He led the team in scoring with 24 points and even grabbed 6 rebounds, which is probably higher than some of his season totals in past years.
He got some help from Cuttino Mobley, who hit 6 of his first 7 shots, including his first 4 three-pointers to score 18 points in just 25 minutes. Walt Williams also hit 3-5 from beyond the arc, scoring 13 points in all.
Rookie sensation Steve Francis and surprising power forward Kenny Thomas, both of which took on lead roles in the past few games, were content taking the supporting roles to Big Bad Bullard. Francis scored 10 points and handed out 9 assists while Thomas scored 9 points, grabbed 4 boards and dished 3 assists (how 'bout that nice feed down low to Dream for the three-point play?)
Rocket announcer Bill Worrell obviously is a big fan of Thomas', as he jokingly called him "one of the most sensational rookies of All-Time" and stuck to that tune most of the night. Thomas is far from that, but he's still surprising people with his solid play.
He didn't shoot near as hot as he did against Denver, but Shandon Anderson got things done in other areas. Anderson made just 3-11 from the field, but did grab 12 rebounds and hand out 4 assists to go with his 7 points.
Hakeem Olajuwon still is not quite in game shape, but he had a few moments against Alonzo Mourning (23 points, 11 boards). Dream scored 9 points, 4 boards and swatted 4 shots in 24 minutes.
Kelvin Cato also returned, but saw just 6 minutes, scoring 3 points.
As it happened against Denver, the scoring opened up with a Bullard three... but Bullard didn't stop there. He nailed another three right after and scored 8 of the team's first 10 points. After Hakeem faked out Zo, grabbed his own miss and hooked it back in, the Rockets led 12-10.
Too much Zo and Jamal Mashburn (17 points) though as the Rockets' running game was grounded in the first and the Heat led 22-16. The Rockets shot just 29% from the field in the quarter and threw up 10 three-pointers, missing 8 of them.
Kenny Thomas scored the first 4 Rocket points in the second quarter - the first a long jumper and the next a Dream-like spin and fadeaway from 15 feet that hit nothing but net.
The rook has skills.
Kelvin Cato, sporting the new headband look, came in for the first time with 6:22 left in the second quarter and the Rockets down 29-22.
Cuttino Mobley hit consecutive threes to trim the Heat lead to 29-28, and after a Kenny Thomas three, the Rockets had tied the game at 31. A 5-point play put the Rockets up 42-34 -- PJ Brown tried to kill Francis on a fast break (Francis laid on the floor in pain, which for Rocket fans is about as scary as Bill Curley taking a 20-foot jump shot), and was called for a flagrant for it. Steve made both free throws, then found Cato underneath for a layup and foul.
Mobley, who saw his first action at the start of the second period, had a fantastic quarter, scoring 13 points on 5-6 shooting, plus 3-3 from long range. The Rockets led 46-40 at the break.
The third quarter is where the Rockets busted the game open.
The Rockets started out the third with a nasty backdoor alleyoop from Walt to Francis in transition. After another Matt Bullard three, the Rockets led 53-42, then Walt found the ball in his hands after some sweet passing and drained the three-pointer to put the Rockets up 56-42. The fans were on their feet and a frustrated Pat Riley was forced to call a timeout.
The Heat got a rally going and cut the lead to 9. A horrible call put Jamal Mashburn at the line, but he bricked both FT attempts (poetic justice). Bullard then hit a long two, Francis got a fast break layup and Cuttino nailed a three and the Rockets led 73-57. When Bullard nailed another three, the Rockets had hit 11 of their last 12 three-point attempts and led 78-61.
After an Hakeem long jumper over Zo and yet another Bullard three (his 24th point), the Rockets led 83-64. When Shandon nailed a three giving the Rockets an 86-68 lead, the Rockets had their 15th three-pointer.
After an Hakeem three-point play, the Rockets led 93-74.
The fans and the Rockets were rolling, and soon also would be heads in Pat Riley's locker room.