And the pain continues.
Jim Jackson hit a wide open three-pointer with 1.0 seconds left on the clock to give the Miami Heat (just 4-17 coming in to the game) the 76-73 win in the Compaq Center Saturday night.
It represents new lows for the Rockets franchise. It was their 13th straight loss, and yet another that came against one of the worst teams in the league.
The Rockets, with all their injuries, have to be considered the very worst the NBA has to offer right now. The lone bright spot is the Rockets are without several key players. The Heat are simply bad while playing the best they have to offer.
But that's not much of a bright spot. The next four games, all at home, are against the Blazers, Lakers, Bucks and Suns. The Rockets could finish the homestand on an unreal 17-game skid, tying the franchise worst set back in the franchise's first year of existence in San Diego in 1967.
Kenny Thomas scored a career-high 26 points, hitting 12-24 from the field, and grabbed 11 boards. He also scored 9 of his 26 in the fourth period. It was a great night for KT, but it wasn't enough. Cuttino Mobley (17 points, 5 assists, 7 boards) had tied the game with a brilliant and tough drive with 6.3 seconds left, but frankly he played with his patented tunnel vision at times, hitting 7-18 shots.
Rocket guards Oscar Torres, starting at the three, and Moochie Norris struggled. The rookie managed just 4-12 from the floor, including 1-5 from long range, while the Mooch missed 8 of his 11 shots. The Rockets as a team hit just 40% from the floor, and finished just 1-9 from downtown.
It's just bad basketball this team is producing, and it's extremely difficult to watch. The only problem they have is everything. Defense is killing them (they give up the highest opponent field goal percentage at 47% a night), they're dead last in the league in assists, they can't put shoot the rock from the outside and they have no strength/bulk inside.
Kelvin Cato returned to action, playing just a few minutes off the bench. Eddie Griffin and Terence Morris both were bright spots in limited time off the pine. Griffin had 4 points, 3 boards and 3 blocks in 20 minutes while Morris, who played heavy minutes in the second period, had 4 and 4 boards in 12 minutes.
Eddie Jones led the Heat with 19 and had the game-winning assist, burning the Rocket double team by dishing it out to the wide-open Jackson. Jackson hit big buckets in the fourth and ended up with 15.... great free agent pickup for the Heat so far. He came to Miami 7 games ago and has put up double-digits in 6 of those 7 contests.
The Miami telecast for this game was simply horrid. They were having technical difficulties, which gave watching the game a Blair Witch Project meets 60's acid flashback feel. I had to actually change the channel at times. Awful.
As for the game, it's a sure thing that the Rockets will start off ice cold, and sure enough ... Miami ran off to an 8-0 start and Rudy T was simply disgusted, calling timeout and staring at his team shaking his head in disbelief.
Kenny Thomas scored two buckets and Mobley hit a 17-footer, but after Eddie Jones swooped in for a deuce and Brian Grant scored, it was 14-6 Miami.
But KT and Oscar Torres sparked a Rocket comeback as Houston went on an 11-2 run to take a 17-16 edge. Eddie Griffin gave the Rockets the 23-22 lead just before the first quarter buzzer with a deuce.
KT led Houston with 10 on 5-9 shooting while Torres added 5.
After a decent first quarter, in which the Rockets shot 50% from the floor, the second quarter was like having your teeth pulled. KT missed all 3 of his shots, Mobley struggled and Kevin Willis was 0-3. The only good news was Terence Morris saw significant time, hitting 2-3 from the floor, and Eddie Griffin was 2-4 from the floor and had a very nice straight-up block of 7-footer Vladimir Stepania.
Miami outscored the Rockets 15-12 in the period and by halftime, the Rockets were shooting just 36.4%. Heat 37, Rockets 35. KT still led the Rockets with the 10 he had in the first while he and Willis each grabbed 7 boards. Eddie Jones scored 7 in the second period to lead the Heat with 11.
The uninspired basketball continued. Miami upped their lead to 5 and it stayed that way for the first half of the third.
After Mobley threw up a brick, he accidentally undercut KT going for the loose ball, and Thomas was on the floor in pain. It looked like another Rocket injury.
But KT came back in to the game a minute later, and immediately threw down a monster jam. Then he grabbed an offensive board and put it back in over Laphonso Ellis to bring Houston to within 51-48. Brian Grant tried to take it strong to the hole, but Griffin threw it back at him out of bounds.
After Mobley nailed a 15-foot fadeaway, then found Moochie streaking on a fast break for a bucket and foul (he missed the FT), the Rockets led 52-51.
After three, Miami 55, Houston 53. Kenny Thomas led the Rockets with 17 and 10 boards. Cuttino Mobley had 11, 5 boards and 4 assists, but he connected on just 5-15 from the floor. Eddie Jones led Miami with 17 while point guards Rod Strickland and Anthony Carter each dropped in 10.
The fourth started out ugly, and you realized how bad these two teams are right now. In the first three minutes of the period, each team had scored 2 points. But with 8:45 to go, Kenny Thomas put in a one-handed bank shot over an outstretched Alonzo Mourning, and the game was tied at 57.
KT then hit a 9-foot hook in the paint, and after a Kendall Gill jumper, KT drained an 18-footer off the wing to give Houston a 61-59 edge. But Carter and Gill each scored to reclaim the lead for Miami.
Torres made a nice runner in the lane, then Mobley made a gorgeous drive (with two guys all over him) and Houston took back the lead. But Jim Jackson scored on two drives sandwiched around a Gill jumper, and Miami led 69-65 with just over 4 minutes left.
Willis took a feed from Moochie underneath for a slam, then blocked Brian Grant on the other end. But the Rockets couldn't tie the game when KT forced a very bad drive, throwing the ball against the backboard with Shek-like grace, and Miami called timeout.
After wasting the 24-second clock, Strickland hit a jumper and Miami led 71-67 with 2:30 to go.
Mobley made two free throws, but after an Eddie Jones missed three, Torres missed a three of his own. Then Eddie Jones drove and made a wild, double-pump shot that somehow miraculously went in. Timeout Rockets with 1:06 left. 73-69 Miami.
KT then hit a jumper with 48 seconds left, and Eddie Jones missed a long jumper with Willis getting the board. But Moochie drove the lane and got tied up by Strickland. Refs called jumpball.
Both players missed the jumpball, and Moochie got it, tried to pass around Zo and pinned the ball to Zo's back as he landed. They called new jumpball -- a huge break for the Rockets.
Again they both missed the ball, with Moochie maybe getting a small piece of the ball. But Willis jumped in to knock it to Mobley. Timeout Rockets with 14.9 ticks left.
Mobley got the inbounds top of the key, dribbled to his right then drove. He put up a layin, looked like he got fouled... the ball bounced up and got a friendly roll. Huge shot. 73-73 with 6.3 seconds left. Pat Riley calls timeout for Miami.
Cuttino went for the steal of the inbounds and just missed getting it. Eddie Jones got the ball and Torres fouled him, since Houston had one to give. 3.9 ticks left.
Miami inbounded and found a wide open Jim Jackson. He put up a killer three..... bingo. 1.0 seconds left and Miami is in celebration. Heat players run on the court... but the Rockets don't have any timeouts left so they inbound, as Miami has more than 5 players on the floor. The refs don't call anything.... instead they re-run the inbound.