Take two steps back and proceed to the nearest exit, because Walt Williams is on fire.
Heading back to Portland to play his former team the Blazers, the Wizard dished out some Harry Potter-esque tricks, nailing 6 three-pointers, to help the Rockets stun Portland 94-87 Tuesday night.
The win ups Houston's mark to 7-5 on the year.
Walt was simply in a zone. He hit his first 6 shots, scoring 15 points in the second period, added 10 more in the third and 6 critical points in the pivotal fourth for 31 on the night. He hit 6 of his 10 long distance call attempts and finished 12-20 from the floor.
"When I shot my first, it felt so good," said Walt. "I knew I was going to be on tonight. I just wanted to keep getting open and keep shooting."
Added Steve Francis, "He was unstoppable."
Hey Portland, how's Scottie?
Walt was amazing, and Glen Rice also had one of his better games as a Houston Rocket, scoring 14 points, including 2 threes. His stroke is still not there, but it's getting better.
And let us thank our lucky stars we were able to pick up Kevin Willis (I don't want to think where we would be without him and having to rely on Kelvin Cato). When Cato dives for a loose ball once and it's considered a "good game" as a result, you know you have problems. Willis hit 5-7 shots for 11 points and 5 boards off the pine.
The dyanamic guard duo of the Rockets, Francis and Cuttino Mobley, did not have exceptional nights. Though Francis finished with 12 points, 9 boards and 6 assists, he committed 5 turnovers and overall did a poor job running the offense. The Rockets in fact didn't take off until Moochie Norris (7 points, 8 assists) came off the bench in the second quarter and got the team passing the ball more.
Mobley shot just 4-11 for 9 points, 5 boards and 5 assists.
Still, the partners in crime combined for game-saving back to back plays late in the fourth. The Rockets saw a 13-point lead wilt to 5 in the last few minutes, and Derek Anderson ran the fast break for a layup to cut it to 3... but Mobley flew in from behind for the block, and Francis took it the other way for the score with 1:24 left.
The Rockets were falling apart at the seams, and that series of events saved the day.
Kenny Thomas was 0-5 from the field and did not return to the game after halftime due to plantar fascitis, which seems to be going around lately with the Rockets (which started with Rice).
This was a big win for the Rockets, but they still have a lot of work to do with their offense. It took a monster night from Walt to even be in this one. When the offense is fluid, with less one-on-one play, and the team is passing the ball effectively, it's a beautiful thing to watch -- but those times are rare. Francis and Moochie have got to run this team much better than they have.
But no doubt this win was a very good step in the right direction.
Portland got off to an 8-4 lead, but we were all knotted up at 8 after Rice hit a three-pointer and Cato hit 1-2 from the line. Shooting was horrendous for both teams, and the woes just continued for the Rockets. After one quarter, it was just 15 all.
The Rockets shot a terrible 29% in the first quarter, but fortunately Portland could muster just 35%.
After Glen Rice found Walt Williams underneath for two, the Rockets showed a rare display of passing, and found Walt wide open for a triple off the wing. When Walt drove and was goaltended by Shawn Kemp, the Rockets led 24-19.
Walt followed up a Willis 9-foot turnaround with a sweet bomb and the Wizard was 4-4 from the field for 10 points in his first 5 minutes of action, and the Rockets led 31-23. When Moochie Norris penetrated and found Rice just off baseline for a triple, Portland had to call timeout as the Rockets were up 34-25.
Walt scored again out of the break, Oscar Torres hit a foot-on-the-three-point-line deuce and when Moochie Norris stole the ball and went coast to coast for a layin, Portland again had to call timeout -- Houston was up 40-25.
The Blazers got going from there... after a few miscues on both ends, Steve Kerr sparked 5 straight Blazer points by converting a three-point play. Oscar Torres miraculously banked in a three-pointer, but the Blazers scored the next 4 to close within 9.
Walt nailed another three-pointer off the baseline, giving him 15 points for the game and 6-6 shooting from the field, but Bonzi Wells immediately countered with a three of his own. Derek Anderson had a drive goaltended by Walt with 4.2 seconds left and the half ended that way at 46-39 Rockets.
The Rockets hit their first 11 shots in the second quarter, and that upped their overall shooting to 50% by half. The Blazers shot 40.5% at intermission. Bonzi Wells led the Blazers with 8 while Walt led Houston with 15 and Glen Rice added 8.
After a ncie defensive stop and score by the Rockets, the Blazers ran off 6 straight points to get within 48-43. After a Derek Anderson jumper, the run was 10-2 for Portland and the Rocket lead was down to just 50-49.
When Walt Williams nailed his fourth trifecta, the Rockets were up 55-51. Bonzi Wells responded with a jumper, but Walt put up a 16-footer as the shot clock expired and drained it. Cato then took a Bonzi charge, which upset Wells -- he got a technical for arguing about it. The Rockets made the free throw, then before play continued, Rasheed Wallace picked up a technical. Rice made that freebie and the Rockets were up 59-53.
That lit a fire under Wallace. After a Rocket miss, he muscled up a deuce on an aggressive drive, then after Francis foolishly travelled on a forced drive, Ruben Patterson converted a three-point play driving on Rice.
With 4:50 left, Dale Davis burned Cato underneath for a tough bucket, and Portland regained the lead 60-59, but Walt Williams then hit another triple, then a foot-on-the-line bomb and it was 64-60 Houston. Francis hit a three, then found Willis for a deuce. After Willis scored three the hard way, the Rockets were up 72-64.
Francis missed a pair of free throws with 29 seconds left, but with 12 ticks left, Mobley stole a pass and Willis hit a 10-footer with 1.4 seconds remaining in the third. Heading in to the fourth: Rockets 74, Blazers 65. Walt Williams had 10 in the third, giving him 25 for the game on 10-14 from the field (including 5-8 from long range). Rice had 14 while Willis had 11 on 5-6 shooting.
Walt scored (again) to start the fourth, putting the Rockets up 11, but after a Bonzi slam on a fast break, it was 78-71. Oscar Torres hit a sweet, off-balance driving jumper. After a loose ball that the refs gave to Houston, Portland coach Mo Cheeks picked up a technical. Houston hit it and Mobley followed with a deuce.
Kemp and Wells each scored and Rudy T was livid, calling timeout up 83-75 with 7:05 left.
After misses exchanged on both sides, Walt Williams hit a monster three, putting the Rockets up 86-75 with 6:00 left. Portland lost the ball out of bounds, and Moochie put in a deuce to up Houston's lead to 13 with 5:25 to go.
After Rasheed dished out a slam and Bonzi Wells made 2 free throws, the lead was 90-81 with 4:24 to go.
The Rockets simply could not buy a bucket.... Rice missed two wide open threes and Mobley airballed a short drive, but the Blazers weren't any better -- Derek Anderson and Wallace missed back-to-back threes.
The Rockets turned it over, then Wells made a pair of freebies. After Mobley missed a three, Wells scored on a drive with 1:58 to go, making it 90-85, and the crowd was on fire. Walt Williams was blocked from behind and the Blazers were off to the races...
... but Cuttino blocked Anderson's fast break layin attempt, and Francis converted on the other end for a driving score and the Rockets were back up 92-85 with 1:24 remaining. It was a game-saving play by Mobley.
Wells made a pair of free throws with 1:09 left, and after the Rocks milked the shot clock, Mobley lost the ball on a drive. The Blazers ran but made a bad pass that was too long. Costly turnover.
With 36.7 seconds left, Moochie made 1-2 free throws, making it 93-87, and Portland called timeout.