What the hell was that?
If you saw this game, you were treated to a great game at times, but saw one of the worst pieces of "bad basketball" you'll ever see with 23.9 seconds left in the game. With the game tied at 99, Moochie Norris simply stood with the ball for 12 seconds, then dribbled out the clock trying to get a shot off (as Eric Snow defended), costing the Rockets a chance for the win in regulation.
The Rockets ultimately fell in overtime to the Sixers 112-106 in Philadelphia, falling to 12-25 on the year.
112 points for the Sixers. That's a lot. Over half were scored by Allen Iverson. Over half. Little man jacked 42 shots, scored a career high 58 points and broke Alex English's record of 54 points for most points in a game against the Rockets franchise.
No conscious. That's the best way to describe it. To think this guy used to be a point guard. Iverson just went nuts, and the Rockets could do nothing to stop him.
Even more frustrating was the fact the Rockets had a 9-point edge with 5:25 left when Cuttino Mobley nailed a triple (his fourth on the night) to give Houston a 94-85 lead. Philly went on a 12-2 run from there to take a one-point edge, but Eddie Griffin hit a huge 15-foot turnaround just off the baseline, and was fouled, putting the Rockets up 2.
Iverson was bailed out by the refs with 23.9 seconds left, making two at the line to tie the game and setting up Moochie's final dribble-dribble play.
The good sign is Mobley led the Rockets with 25 points and hit 8-15 shots (only his second 50% or better performance in the last 27 games, since November 15th), which hopefully is a sign he's snapping out of his slump. As Bill Worrell said, Mobley "brought his 'A' game"... he bullseyed 4 of 5 threes, though he struggled at the line (5-9).
Eddie Griffin also was magnificent, scoring 11 of his 17 in the second quarter and converting the huge three-point play in the final minute. Like Mobley, he too drained 4 triples (4-7), but also added 10 boards, 3 assists and 2 blocks. You just hope this is not a hot streak and that Griffin can really do this kind of damage consistently (in the last 11 games he's done just that).
Kenny Thomas also shot very well from the floor, hitting 9-13 shots for 20 points and 8 boards. You can tell Eddie's performance has pushed Kenny to step it up a notch, and he's responding.
Props also to Kelvin Cato, who quietly has been doing wel. Tonight he hit 5-6 for 13 and 6 boards as he seems to be getting to the rack for slams more often.
Bad games? Look no farther than Steve Francis. It's hard to complain about 13 points, 10 boards and 7 assists, but Francis was awful. He missed his first 8 shots (finished 5-20) and it probably affected him that Iverson, who many have compared him to and consider an exciting matchup for Steve, was off to the races for 20 by early second quarter. Steve also committed 7 of the Rockets 15 turnovers. Bad night for Steve.
Francis also was flustered late in the fourth quarter by Speedy Claxton as the two had to be seperated with about 2:30 to go. KT was putting up a shot (and was fouled), and Claxton slammed in to Stevie hard to box out for the board. Words were exchanged and the refs stepped in to stop the action.
Claxton was on fire too, hitting 7-9 for 16 points.
What a role reversal. This time Steve Francis struggled (bigtime) and Cuttino Mobley stepped up his game. Mobley hit 3-5 shots in the first period for 8 points while Francis missed all 7 shots he took in the first period.
But neither was as hot as Allen Iverson. The Philly guard put up 14 points in the quarter to help the Sixers take a 24-19 lead after one.
Iverson kept the gun smoking.... dude had put up 17 shots by the time there was over 7 minutes left. He was 8-17 for 20 points. The Sixers kept the heat on, and when Aaron McKie tipped in his own layup drive, Philly was up 40-30.
Eddie Griffin sparked a rally, and Kenny Thomas kept it going. Griff nailed a triple, then KT scored 3 straight buckets and the Rockets were within 42-39.
A Dikembe Mutombo bucket made it 46-39, but then the Rockets erupted. Griffin tipped in a KT miss folowed by a KT deuce and it was 46-43, then Eddie Griffin tied it with a triple from the far baseline corner, then hit another triple from the same sweet spot to make it 49-46 Rockets.
Francis then got his first field goal, a tip-in of a Moochie miss, and the Rockets had closed the half on a 12-0 run, taking a 51-46 edge in to the locker room at half.
Kenny led the Rockets with 14 points, hitting 7-9 shots, while Mobley added 12 (3-3 from long range). Meanwhile, Griffin, who came in to the game to start the second, scored all 11 in the second period, including 3 triples, on 4-5 shooting. Iverson led all scorers with 20.
Dikembe Mutombo goaltended a KT shot and after Mobley made a pair of free throws, then 1-2 at the line, the Rockets led 60-50 and the Sixers had to call timeout.
The Sixers got back within 5, but the Rockets fought right back. Francis started to heat up a little, making two straight buckets, and when Oscar Torres drained a triple, the Rockets were up 11 at 76-65.
But Iverson (now 32 points) and Speedy Claxton (6-7, 12 points) each scored to get it within 7. After Mobley scored on a drive, Iverson drove, got fouled by Mobley and scored. His three-point play, followed by two Sixer free throws got them within 5 again.
But Torres nailed another triple, making it 81-73. Heading in to the fourth: 83-75 Rockets.
Through three, Mobley led the Rocks with 19 while KT had 18. Kelvin Cato played well, scoring 11 points and 5 boards. Torres added 8, including a pair of threes in the third. Iverson led the Sixers with 37 points.
The Rockets quickly upped the lead to 10, but the Sixers started to come back. When Iverson found Claxton for a 17-footer, the Rockets lead was just 87-83 with 7:26 to go.
Francis was fouled, making 1-2 at the line, but Iverson quickly scored on the other end and the lead was just a scary 3 points.
But "Ice" Griffin hit his fourth three-pointer, making it 91-85 Rockets. Timeout Sixers with just under 6 minutes left.
After an Iverson miss, Mobley nailed a cold-blooded triple with 5:25 to go, and the Rockets were up 94-85 once again. Huge shot.
That woke up the Sixers, and the Rockets went ice cold. Iverson went nuts. Philly scored 7 straight while Moochie and Francis missed key shots. KT was finally fouled getting to the line (and Claxton was pushing on Francis and they nearly erupted in to blows) with roughly 2:30 to go. He made both, but Iverson responded with a three, and just like that the Rockets were only up one, 96-95.
Iverson then stole the ball, went coast to coast for a layin, and Philly had the lead, 97-96, with 2:03 left. Iverson had 49 points at this stage.
Philly got the ball back, missed, got their own board and milked clock. They committed a 24-second shot clock violation though, and the Rockets got the ball back with 1:03 left.
Then Griffin. Eddie hit a turnaround and was fouled with 48.5 seconds left. Awesome. When he made the freebie, the Rockets led 99-97 with 48.5 ticks left.
Cuttino played terrific 'D' on Iverson, but the refs bailed him out with a call with 23.9 seconds left. Iverson made both (51 points now). Timeout Rockets with the score tied up at 99 all.
That set up the play of the game. Moochie Norris took the inbounds from Eddie Griffin, and he just sat there with the ball. He milked 12 seconds off the clock standing there, with Eric Snow draped on him. Eddie Griffin tried to free him with a pick but Moochie didn't go for it. He dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled, dribbled ....
Philly got right to the FT line, and it helped them take control. Snow and Harpring each made a pair of freebies, and when Iverson hit a jumper Philly was up 105-99.
But with 2:36 to go, Mobley hit a nice fadeaway jumper to make it 105-102 Sixers. Griffin then rejected Iverson, and Francis stopped-and-popped on a break, bringing Houston to within one.
But Iverson responded with a dagger of a three, giving him a career high 56 points (and the most an opponent has ever scored against the Rockets, breaking Alex English's record of 54 against Houston) and putting the Sixers up 108-104.
With a minute left, Mobley went one-on-one and lost the ball between his legs. Philly recovered, and Griffin was called for goaltending, putting Philly up 6.