Where to begin: The rock-bottom first half, or the valiant comeback in the fourth?
The Rockets scored an abysmal 24 points in the first half, an all-time low in a half for the franchise, and trailed by as many as 25 points in the third quarter. Yet somehow they had the ball, down just 3, with 30 seconds to go. To no avail... the Rockets missed their chance and ultimately fell to the Spurs 90-86 in San Antonio.
The loss drops the Rockets record to 5-3 and ups San Antonio to 6-2 in the Midwest.
Frustration. The Rockets have been bricklayers all season so far, but nothing as bad as what they displayed in the first half. Playing without the injured Cuttino Mobley, they shot under 26% (9-35) and had one assist total in the first 24 minutes.
It was literally comical watching them try to score.
In fact it was almost as funny as listening to San Antonio Spurs announcers Joel Meyers and the now-retired Sean Elliot talk about Spurs rookie point guard Tony Parker during the game. No matter what Parker did, these clowns dished it up as if he destroyed Francis. Never mind that Parker hit just 4-11 shots (14 points) and 4 assists and that Steve Francis led all scorers with 32 points, grabbed 9 boards and picked 4 steals. Never mind all that. Because Parker destroyed Francis. Boy, he's something.
Parker, just 19 years old, is actually a good prospect and showed some skills, but the Spurs TV parrots must be pretty hard up for some strong guard play to deliver such bloated praise.
As bad as the first half was, the second half gave the Rockets (hopefully) something to build on.
After the Spurs built the lead up to 25 points early in the third, Glen Rice (5-7 from the field, 15 points) got going. The team beat their entire first half output with 27 in the period, and that was in large part thanks to Rice, who popped in 11 with 16-18 foot jumpers over Steve Smith.
After Rice did his work in the third, the Rockets came out smoking in the fourth, thanks to 14 points in the frame from 'Franchise. They outscored the Spurs 35-20 in the fourth and when Moochie Norris hit a clutch triple, the Rockets miraculously were within 3 points with under a minute to go.
They put on the defensive stop too, and after a timeout, Francis drove and put up a shot trying to draw a foul. He missed, the refs didn't bite and that was the game.
Kevin Willis also came up very big (as usual), scoring 17 points and snaring 10 boards, helping to make up for the pansy ass work of Kelvin Cato (18 minutes, 0-1, 2 boards), who has apparently retreated back in to his shell after a strong opening night.
Kenny Thomas also played well, taking Tim Duncan strong to the hole on more than one occasion, and finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds.