Somebody stop Walt Williams.
The Rocket forward, who is averaging over 19 points in the last 14 games (Walt clutchcity.net game by game profile), scored 23 points and grabbed 12 boards to lead 7 total Rockets in double figures in the 103-93 win over the Nuggets in the Pepsi Center.
It's the Rockets' fourth straight win.
Wizard was just en fuego. He shook off a collision late in the first quarter to have a big second period, hitting three threes, and by halftime had 20 points. His final three points, a trifecta from the top of the key with under 2 minutes to go, put the Nuggets to bed.
6 other Rockets scored in double figures.
"Our young guys' confidence is soaring," said Rudy T. "After the past week, they feel like they can beat anybody."
Props have to go out to Kenny Thomas, scoring 15 points on 6-13 shooting, including two big shots late in the game, and also snared 9 caroms off the glass. What was amazing was Thomas wasn't afraid to drive or pull up right on Antonio McDyess (just 8 points).
Speaking of McDyess, remember when he passed on the Rockets because he didn't think the future was bright for the backcourt?
Ahh 'Tony, you lack vision.
Steve Francis finished 2 boards shy of a triple double with 13 points, 11 assists and 8 boards. Nick Van Exel (27 points, 11 assists) may have gotten the better of the matchup once again, but Francis will be happy winning the war.
Cuttino Mobley came off the bench, hit 6-14, including several nice drives to the hoop, for 15 points, 5 boards and 3 blocks ("Cat swats the ball of yarn"). Shandon Anderson hit just 4-11 shots, but scored 13 points and grabbed 9 boards.
Kelvin Cato and Matt Bullard each knocked down 10 points as well.
If the Rockets could have taken care of business at the freebie line (24-38, 63%) this might have been a blowout. The Rocks dominated the glass though, holding a 52-37 edge.
Rehashing the game
Francis got going early, scoring 4 quick points with an assist. A Kenny Thomas bucket followed by a Shandon Anderson short jumper got the Rockets off to a 17-7 early lead.
With 3:08 to go in the first period, Chris Gatling drove and scored, but bowled over Walt in the process. Wizard was on the floor in pain... but he would be fine and return to action.
Francis capped the first quarter scoring and it was 22-16 Rockets. 'Chise had 9 after one to lead all scorers.
After a Walt three the Rockets led 34-28. Another Walt three a few minutes later made it 38-30, but the Nuggets ran off 5 quick points before Cato hit 2 free throws. Moochie then blew by his man, drew Raef LaFrentz and put up a tough runner over his outstretched arm which bounced out, but with LaFrentz gone Cato came flying in and tomahawked it down with one hand in mid-air off the rim. 42-35 Rockets.
Another Walt three, with just 20 seconds left in the half, gave the Rockets a 51-43 edge and Walt had 20 points. It was 51-45 Rockets at intermission.
The Nuggets got going in the third though behind Van Exel, who hit 5 of his first 6 shots in the period, and the energy of reserve Ryan Bowen. After a George McCloud dunk on a fast break the Nuggets regained the lead 62-61. A three-point play by LaFrentz then a way too easy penetration and layup by Van Exel made it 67-61 Denver and the Rockets were forced to call a TO.
Denver kept pouring it on ... after a Mobley running layin, LaFrentz dunked, then Van Exel hit a three than Nick hit a running drive and the Nuggets, just like that, had an 11-point edge, 74-63.
Two Shandon free throws, a Cato slam then an Anderson fast break layup off a Francis feed made it 74-69. A pair of free throws at the line by Mobley capped an 8-0 Rocket run. Denver led 78-74 through three.
Francis opened the scoring in the fourth, his first points since the first quarter. After a Bullard three the Rockets retook the lead 81-80. After Bull hit two freebies than a wing on a prayer hook, the Rockets trailed 88-87.
Two McDyess free throws and a tech FT (called on Francis for complaining about a no-call on Cat) made it 91-87, but Mobley responded with a drive then Francis nailed a foot on the line two with Francis in his face and the game was tied. Kenny then scored a hoop and the Rockets took the lead 93-91 with 5:19 to go.
Kenny Thomas then nailed another jumper, this one from 16-feet out, and the lead was 95-91 with 4:07 left.