The Clippers loss was a killer, but this one may be the nail in the coffin.
Steve Francis missed a layup that would have put the Rockets up 3 with 30 seconds left, then missed a jumper in the final seconds that was partially blocked as the Rockets fell to the Sonics 93-90 in Seattle.
The loss completes an 0-3 road trip for the Rockets... a road trip they really needed.
Reality check: The Rockets record falls to 38-32 and they are now 4 back of Minnesota in the loss column. Keep in mind making up 4 games in their last 12 is not good enough -- Minnesota will own any tiebreaker. The Rockets must make up 5 games in their final 12 ballgames.
That's if they don't fall down to #10 first... Seattle is now 38-34... 2 back in the loss column to the Rockets.
The Rockets had no answer for Ruben Patterson. The Energizer Bunny-like small forward, standing just 6'5", had his way in the paint against the Rockets, and scored the winning bucket with 12.3 seconds left when he drove right on and over Maurice Taylor.
Patterson finished with 23 points on 8-14 shooting... and remember: Patterson torched the Rockets for 23 and 9 back in December. The Rocks are doing a damn good job of letting this guy double his averages.
It wastes a terrific outing from Walt Williams. Once a month or every six weeks or so the Wizard shows up and earns a paycheck, and tonight he did so in grand fashion. He hit his first 5 shots, including 4 three-pointers, to score 14 of his 23 in the first half.
Francis, no doubt, would like to forget this game. The Sonics' defensive plan was to double Steve every chance they got, and when they didn't late, Francis was a factor: He got to the line and made two key free throws and made a gorgeous alleyoop pass to Cuttino Mobley, but in the final 30 seconds he missed the layup and late jumper.
He hit just 3-12 from the floor.
Also on the guilty list -- Moochie Norris (7 points, 5 assists) and Mobley for each missing a key free throw in the final minutes.
Mobley however scored well, hitting 7-14 shots for 20 points.
Mo Taylor added 14 points and 5 boards while Shandon Anderson had another bad outing (0-4 from the floor) and left the game to have his foot checked out. Apparently it has been bothering him for a while...
Kelvin Cato has been nothing short of waste of space out on the floor. On one particular play he grabbed the rebound half-heartedly, a Seattle player swiped it right out of his hands to another Sonic who scored a layup.
Final minute and a half of the game:
With 1:27 left and the Rockets trailing by one, Francis found Mobley for an alleyoop layup to give the Rockets the 88-87 lead, but Vin Baker responded with a 12-footer with 1:12 to go to give Seattle back the edge.
Francis was fouled on a drive and made both free throws with 1:02 left, and after Baker missed a jumper, Francis grabbed the board and was thrown out of bounds. Refs made the right call: Rockets ball.
Rudy called timeout, and when they finally inbounded the ball, Francis got it and blew by his man for a pretty wide open layup -- too hard. Seattle got the ball and called timeout with just over 23 ticks left.
Ruben Patterson got it down low, drove and scored over Mo Taylor with 12.3 seconds left. 91-90 Seattle. Timeout Rockets.
Francis got the inbounds and immediately drove.. he stopped from about 16 feet out and put up a jumper. It was partially blocked and nowhere near the goal...
... Seattle got the rebound and found Ruben Patterson (who else) for a game-ending slam.