When will the Mario Elie hell ever end? ("Never, Clutch")
The Retro Rock hit two game-clinching free throws with 10.9 seconds left in overtime and nailed 5 of 5 three-pointers in regulation as the Spurs just edged out the Rockets 113-111 in the Compaq Center.
The loss drops the Rockets record to 21-32 and keeps them where they have been most of the season:
As close to the playoffs (8 games) as they are to the worst record in the league (10 games).
Tim Duncan turned on the jets late, scoring like 17 of his 25 in the fourth and overtime period combined, to lead the Spurs, with Elie (who has been a Rocket nightmare since he left) playing a hell of a second fiddle with 19 points.
The Chronicle pointed out (and this is sick) that Mario is now 18-of-23 on three-poiners in 8 games with the Spurs against the Rockets. As a Spur in the Compaq Center, Mario is 13 of 15 from three-point territory.
It's a shame too, because the Rockets got some big performances, namely from their legendary man in the middle Hakeem Olajuwon.
Dream replaced Kelvin Cato (injury) in the starting lineup and played the most minutes he has since returning from injury (34). He connected on 10-16 shots for 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. It undoubtedly is Hakeem's best game since the hernia issue.
Cuttino Mobley also could have been the star -- it was his free-throw line jumper with a shade over 6 seconds to go in regulation that tied it at 103 and forced overtime in the first place.
He finished with 20 points on 8-17 from the field.
Playing the lion's share of the minutes (and then some) was Steve Francis, who logged 51 (what ... Moochie can't handle it?). Francis finished with 19 points (7-17), 12 assists, 5 boards and a pair of steals.
The other rookie played solid as well, handling himself quite well in the post against the likes of Duncan and David Robinson (7-11 shooting, 15 points). Kenny Thomas got the start in place of Matt Bullard and hit 4-10 and 7-8 from the charity stripe for 16 points and 9 boards -- 6 offensive -- in 43 minutes.
Shandon Anderson scored 12 points while Bullard scored 11 points (3-5 from long range) and grabbed 7 boards in 18 minutes. Matt Bullard?!
Noteworthy story is the return of Carlos Rogers. 'Los hit 2-5 shots for 4 points in 11 minutes.
It's amazing the Rockets got this game to overtime. The Spurs shot a sizzling 52% (again) while the Rockets came in just under 45%. The Spurs also hit 80% on threes (8-10, while the Rockets hit 9-26.
The Spurs jumped out on the Rockets early as they did last game, leading 24-14 mid to late first quarter, but Houston used a 10-5 closing run to make it 29-25 San Antonio though one.
Then the Rockets exploded.
Threes rained down -- a pair each by Francis and Bullard -- and the Rockets jumped out to an 18-2 run to start the second period, and led 43-31.
The Rockets led by 9 at half (56-47) and by 5 heading into the final frame (81-76) where overtime was forced.