The Rockets are winning, and having fun while doing it.
Houston used a 12-0 burst late in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Pacers for a 101-89 win in Indiana, their first road win of the season.
The Rockets upped their record to 7-5.
5 players scored in double figures and the Rockets as a team shot nearly 60% (58.8%) from three-point range.
Steve Francis had just two points at halftime... but finished with 20. He added 9 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals.... he was brilliant in the second half.
And damn if the kid does not have a nose for the ball -- the nose that Maurice Taylor lacks. Francis skied for a rebound over Jermaine O'Neal in the fourth period then ripped it out of his hands. Guts. Got to love it.
Matt Bullard came off the bench and tore it up, draining 7 of 10 shots for 18 points in just 24 minutes, and none of the 18 had more cajones than the 3-ball he nailed late in the fourth, sparking a run and putting the team up 5.
Also en fuego was Walt Williams, who hit 4-5 from beyond the arc (6-8 from the field) for 16 points. Ditto Hakeem Olajuwon, who nailed 6-9 shots (and is now hitting over 55% of his shots - see Season Stats) for 13 points.
This keeps up and Kelvin Cato is going to have to fight for some quality minutes when he gets back... Hakeem is really having fun again and playing much better.
Mo Taylor also played strong in limited time, scoring 14 points and 5 boards in 28 minutes.
Cuttino Mobley, who HoopsTV called "not only the 6th man of the year, but also a hilarious quote machine who dresses like Clyde Frazier", was just short of being the 6th Rocket to score in double figures... he was 0-5 from the floor heading in to the fourth quarter, but from there nailed 4 of his last 5 in the fourth and was a huge reason the Rockets pulled this out. He finished with 9 points and 4 dimes.
The Rockets hit 63% of their shots (12-19) in the critical 4th quarter. Reggie Miller led the Pacers (and all scorers) with 28 points -- Jalen Rose did not play.
The Rocks trailed 44-37 at the half -- Francis had just two points through the first two quarters.
It all changed in the third. The Rockets scored just 37 points on 39% shooting in the first half.... they scored 35 in the third period alone.
The Rockets trailed by as many as 11 points a few minutes in to the period, but Francis took over, scoring 12 points in the period. After a Francis drive and a Mo Taylor bucket in the paint, it was all knotted up at 64.
After an 18-footer by Mo the Rockets took the lead, then Francis sweetened it with two free throws, making it 68-65. Through three, Rockets 72, Pacers 69.
Bullard and Mobley each scored to start the fourth and the Rockets opened up a 7-point lead, 76-69.
The Rockets got to 78-70 before the wind went out of their sails. After an Austin Croshere jumper, Zan Tabak (believe it or not) came flying down on a fast break for a thunderous dunk over Walt Williams, and the Pacers were within 2.
Beautiful timeout call by Rudy T, because the Rockets responded beautifully with perfect offensive execution coming out of the huddle.
Francis took a gorgeous alleyoop feed for a slam, Bullard nailed a three then Mobley knocked down two jumpers and Hakeem nailed a jumper and before you could freakin' blink it was 91-80 Rockets.
Timeout Pacers. 3:12 left in the 4th...
Francis came flying down the court and hopped in to Olajuwon's arms, who laughed, smiled and gave Steve a big hug.