Full Recap coming...
Game Notes found below
Word was Steve Francis had yet another migraine today, but he toughed it out and played. That's just bad news... they need to get this identified.
The Rockets jumped out early thanks to Kelvin Cato's 4 quick points, but the Nets were not impressed. Kenyon Martin hit 6-7 shots in the first quarter for 13 points, while Todd MacCullough added 7 and the Nets led 33-27 after one.
Cato led the Rockets with 10 points (Yes. Cato. 10. One Period), and hit all 4 shots he took while Cuttino Mobley added 8. The Steve Francis-Cato-alleyoop connection was working.
Then the Rockets went in the tank to start the second.
New Jersey exploded on a 16-4 run, sparked by rookie Richard Jefferson (part of the Eddie Griffin deal), over the first 7 minutes of the second quarter -- that's right, the Rockets managed just 4 points. New Jersey took a 19-point edge...
But then, the Rockets got back in to it. Moochie Norris and Dan Langhi scored, then Mobley erupted. He hit a pair of free throws, a deuce, then back-to-back triples, and the Rockets were within 7 points.
At halftime: Nets 55, Rockets 46. Mobley led all scorers with 20 points, having hit 8-12 shots and both his three-point attempts. Griffin on the other hand struggled, hitting just 2-7 shots for 4 points. Kenyon Martin had 17 for the Nets while Kerry Kittles added 13.
Mobley continued to be a zone in the third. He was 4-6 in the period for 12 more points, giving him 32 through three. Cato also played well, putting down two more nasty slams, giving him 15 points, 7 boards and 3 blocks on 6-6 shooting.
But no matter how much the Rockets put up, New Jersey was always one step better. When Aaron Williams tipped in a miss at the third quarter buzzer, the Nets led 83-72 heading in to the fourth.
But it got interesting. Mobley hit another triple, his third (giving him 35 on the night). A little later, Francis snared a board and went coast to coast for a tough layin, then after Terence Morris swatted a Net shot, Francis popped an 18-footer and the Rockets were within 87-81. Timeout New Jersey with 8:40 left.
New Jersey built the lead back up to 7 when Mobley hit a pair of free throws, Morris found Cato for a slam, Francis hit a pair of freebies, then Mobley did again as well and just like that, with 4:26 to go, the Rockets had their first lead since the first quarter at 91-90 with 4:26 to go.
Todd MacCullough put in a layin after getting his first two attempts blocked, then they scored again on a fast break to make it 95-91 Nets.
Francis went to the line, making the first and missing the second. But Cato knocked the ball out and the Rockets got the board. Mobley was then fouled, and he made both at the stripe (tying his career high of 41).
Cuttino then picked a Nets pass and found a streaking Mooch, but Moochie went for the fast break layin and at the last second, under heavy D, threw it away. But the Nets gave the gift back, throwing the ball out of bounds.
Moochie was then fouled on a drive and made both FTs. Houston now up 96-95 ... timeout New Jersey with 1:07 left.
But Kerry Kittles banked in a deuce. The Rockets found Terence Morris wide open for three on the baseline and he missed. Kenyon Martin then threw in a hook in the paint and the Rockets, in an instant, were down 3 and had to call timeout with 26.6 seconds left.
Mobley missed, but Terence Morris tipped it back in with 19.9 seconds left. The Rockets immediately fouled Kittles. He made both.