Full Recap coming...
Game Notes found below
Eddie Griffin hit a three with just under a minute left in the first, closing the Rockets portion of the scoring, and after one, the Rockets lead was just 19-18.
Kenny Thomas led the Rockets with 6 in the period while Raef LaFrentz led the Nuggets with 8 and James Posey added 7.
Then came the second quarter -- the "Eddie Griffin" quarter. Eddie exploded in the second, going off for 15 points on 6-7 shooting and swatting 2 Nugget shots.
It boosted the Rockets. Mobley hit a triple, and after an Avery Johnson bucket, Moochie found Griffin for a slam, then an alleyoop layin to Griffin on a fast break and at half, the Rockets led 47-36.
Griffin had 18 points, 5 boards and 3 blocks, on 7-8 shooting, in the first half. WOW. The Rockets shot 47.5% (excluding Griffin, the rest of the team shot roughly 37%) to the Nuggets 34.1% in the half. The big difference was the Rockets shut down Nick Van Exel. Though he had 5 dimes, he missed all 7 shots he took and had a goose egg in the scoring column.
KT added 11 points while LaFrentz led the Nuggets with 10. Steve Francis had just 3 points at half, having only taken 3 shots, and word was he was having another migraine (as was Kevin Willis). Cuttino Mobley (2-8 shooting) also complained of dizziness in the locker room at half.
Kelvin Cato got the Rockets started off right in the third with a slam, and KT followed with a muscle shot over Ryan Bowen, and the Rockets were up 51-36.
Van Exel continued to struggle, missing shots, and a little later Mobley pulled up in transition for three, nailing it, and the Nuggets had to call timeout. The Rockets were up 18 at 58-40.
Van Exel made his first bucket of the game out of the timeout, making him 1-10 from the floor.
When Mobley made a sweet pass to Cato underneath for a slam, Cato had a near double-double (10 points, 9 boards at this point) and the Rockets led 69-51 with 3:40 to go.
But from there it went south. Voshon Lenard hit a triple, then two free throws after being fouled on a drive. After an awful offensive foul call on KT, Posey hit a three and Rudy called timeout with the lead down to 9, 72-63, with 1:22 left in the third.
Rudy finally put Griffin back in the game (after the brilliant play in the second, he played none of the third up to this point), and he immediately paid dividends, scoring on the next play. After a Nuggets miss, Francis was fouled, capping the scoring by making 1-2 at the line. Through three, Rockets 75, Nuggets 63.
Griffin led the team with 20, KT added 13 and Cato had 10 and 9 boards.
LaFrentz converted a three-point play right off the bat, and though Mobley scored on the other end, Avery Johnson drove right through the heart of the defense for a layin to make the difference 9 points again. After misses on both ends, Avery hit a 16-footer and the lead was down to 7.
But Moochie hit a jumper and with 7:28 to go, Francis converted a three-point play, making it 84-72 Rockets, and did so with a circus shot... he jumped, was stripped and hacked by Posey in midair, then caught the ball and flipped in it over his head. Just awesome...
When Griffin hit another three, he had 23 and the Rockets led 87-74.
The Nuggets cut it back down to 9 before Moochie banked in a jumper. AJ scored again, but Francis put in a floater to make it 93-82 Rockets and Denver called timeout with just over 3 minutes left.