OK, so lets talk NBA Draft.
In a must-win game against the Phoenix Suns, the Rockets had no answer for Jason Kidd and were left holding the losing bag 90-85 Thursday night.
The loss drops the Rockets' record to 39-33, again 4 games back in the loss column to Minnesota. With 10 games remaining, the Rockets must make up 5 on the Timberwolves. In crunch time, in the middle of the playoff chase, the Rockets have lost 4 of their last 5.
The Rockets had a chance to tie, down just 3 with 40 seconds to go, but Francis drove, got in trouble and made a bad pass. The Suns recovered the loose ball and that was all she wrote.
Kidd scored a career-high 43, breaking his old career high of 38 against (guess who?) us back in 1995 when he was with Dallas. But that game was a double-OT thriller... this one just saw Kidd popping off from all over the court, including a banked three-pointer with 3:20 to go that was a killer.
Dude put up 34 shots... Jason Kidd. That's just sick.
No other player on the Suns scored more than 11 points. That's even worse.
Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets in nearly complete a comeback. Hakeem played 38 minutes, hit 9-17 shots for 20 points and 11 boards. He was truly inspirational and the Suns had no answer for him ... but in the final minute Jake Tsakalidis, the NBA's version of Lurch, blocked an Hakeem jumper.
Moochie Norris also was a lift to the Rockets -- he scored 15 points in just 21 minutes. 11 of those points came in the second period, helping the Rockets take a 10-point lead at halftime. Got to love this guy ... plays with a lot of fire and passion. Re-signing the Mooch this offseason is a must.
Starting in place of the injured Maurice Taylor, Kenny Thomas scored 10 and grabbed 12 boards in 45 minutes. KT was very aggressive on the glass, but no doubt the Rockets could have used Mo's scoring punch on this night.
Francis and Cuttino Mobley on the other hand weren't so hot. The Rockets' stars in the backcourt scored just 13 a piece and shot a combined 11-33 from the floor. Must-win game and they came up short.
Thanks to an 18-9 closing run at the end of one, the Rockets headed in to the second period up 26-21.
After Francis found KT for a driving layup, the Rockets led 28-21, but then Phoenix took over. The Suns went on a 10-0 run to take a 31-28 lead. The Rockets on the other hand were taking bad shots -- not just missing shots, but terrible shot selection.
Sweet play: Right after Hakeem came in to the game in the second, he defended Jason Kidd just inside the three-point line. Kidd couldn't go anywhere, and when he finally tried to go around him, Dream simply swiped the ball right out of his hands.
Still, the Rockets couldn't get going, until "Afro Thunder" happened.
Moochie Norris went on a tear... he scored, found Walt for a 20-footer, then got clobbered in the paint for a whistle and from practically the floor put in a 6-footer. After hitting that free throw, he followed that up with a triple, putting the Rockets up 41-37.
Timeout Phoenix. But the fans were back in to it.... and Moochie, dishing out salutes to the crowd and screaming at the top of his lungs, was to thank.
The Rockets kept going... after Hakeem and Kenny hit jumpers and Mobley a trifecta, the Rockets led 48-40.
And just before the half? Who else... Moochie Norris with an incredible drive just before the buzzer, putting the Rockets up 50-40.
The Rockets closed the second period on a 19-5 run, with 11 of those points coming from Moochie (3-4 from the floor, 4-5 from the line). Hakeem had 10 points and 6 boards. Jason Kidd led all scorers with 15 at intermission.
The Suns came back. They kept it around 9-10 early in the third, and when Kidd nailed a triple at the 6:16 mark, the Rockets led just 56-50.
But Mobley picked the ball from behind and found Shandon for a driving layup, then Francis and Cuttino each scored and the Rockets were back up 62-50 at the 4:33 mark.
It didn't last. Elie and Gugliotta nailed back-to-back triples, then Googs tipped in an offensive board, and Rudy T had to call timeout, up just 4 with 2:05 left in the third, after an 8-0 Suns run.
When Rodney Rogers tipped in his own miss (way too easily) over Matt Bullard, it was just 66-64 Rockets. At the end of the third, Kidd nailed a three-point bomb and disgracefully, the Rockets led by just one 68-67, heading in to the fourth. The Suns closed the period on a 15-4 run.
Kidd led the Suns with 25 points. Mobley led the Rockets with 13 while Francis had 11, 7 assists and 5 boards. Kenny Thomas had 10 points and 10 boards.
When Gugliotta hit a turnaround jumper over Bullard on the baseline, the Suns claimed the lead 71-70, then Googs again burned Bullard for a turnaround and the Rockets had to call timeout (again), trailing 73-70 with 10 minutes to go...
Kidd scored to make it 75-70 Suns, but Walt hit a technical for an illegal defense call, then Moochie nailed a jumper, and after Francis grabbed an offensive board and found Dream for a baseline jumper, it was all knotted up at 75 with 8:06 to go.
When Hakeem nailed another jumper, the crowd was in a frenzy and the Suns had to stop the action with a timeout -- Houston 77, Phoenix 75.... 7-0 Rockets run
Kidd scored on a long, tough jumper, but Moochie, with the shot clock running down, drained a 20-footer. Kidd again nailed a tough jumper to tie it. With 5:30 left Francis tipped in a Kenny missed three, but Kidd nailed an insane turnaround from 18-feet out, giving him 35 points, and it was tied again.
When Kidd nailed another long jumper, it was 83-81 Phoenix with 4:00 to go.
How bad was it? Kidd tossed up a triple with 3:21 to go and banked it in. Rudy T immediately called timeout, down 86-81. Kidd had an insane 40 points.
Hakeem responded with a jumper, then after an exchange of misses, Mobley played terrific defense on Kidd, forcing a miss, and Hakeem grabbed an offensive board after a Francis miss and put in a tough putback, bringing the Rockets to within one with less than 2 minutes to go.
But Kidd nailed a jumper with 1:26 to go, and Tsakalidis blocked an Hakeem turnaround and after a Kidd miss, Francis brought the ball up with 40 seconds left.
But he made a boneheaded pass, the Suns recovered the loose ball, and Phoenix had the game.
And the Rockets are left on the outside looking in.