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12/12/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Rockets' scoring woes continue
12/12/2003 - San Antonio Express-News
Strong defense leads Spurs to retro night win
Spurs Pound Rockets
Offense ineptitude continues for Rockets as Spurs roll, 86-73
By Clutch
Make that 1001 Reasons to Love This Game:

I love this game because these guys make me feel better about my own game.

The Rockets' offense continued to shoot "lights back on" Saturday night as the Spurs rolled the Rockets 83-76 in the SBC Center in San Antonio.

The loss drops the Rockets to 13-9. Funny enough, that record is just one game ahead of last place in the division.

Note to Rockets: Avoid back-to-back games against the Spurs like the plague. Hope this scheduling snafu never occurs again as the Spurs' defense made an already bad Rocket offense look like the worst in NBA history.

Steve Francis is currently in a world of hurt with the ball in his hands. He just can't put the Spalding through the hoop right now. He missed 12 of his 17 shot attempts, and only finished with 17 points and 5 dimes thanks to some serious help from garbage minutes.

He had some success against Yao Ming last season, and has now shut him down in back to back games, leaving many questioning Yao's toughness and strength in the post.
Again, 5-17 shooting. Steve is now shooting 31.3% from the floor in his last 5 games and is under 40% for the season. Yes, he's learning a new system and he's the one running it, but right now the numbers show his offensive role remains the same, but his production is seriously down.

Francis is now shooting 39.5% from the floor this season ... he came in to the season with a career field goal percentage of 44%.

Like last game, his star mate also was bad... very bad. Yao Ming only put up 9 shots, and only made 3 of them, finishing with 11 points, 9 boards and 3 blocks. Rasho Nesterovic (14 points on 6-8 shooting) again got the better of him. It's hard to believe this is the same Yao Ming who once put up 27 points, 18 boards and 3 blocks against Tim Duncan and David Robinson last season.

The Rockets held Duncan to 8 points tonight on 2-10 shooting ... an impressive feat. But he still had 12 boards and 6 assists. Tony Parker had 10 points and 12 assists while Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 16.

Make no mistake, the Rockets were lucky to put 60 points on the scoreboard tonight. They had only 8 points by early second quarter and shot under 30% in the first half. They finished the game shooting at a 33% clip.

So what's wrong with this offense? Good question. For starters, the starters. Three of the Rockets five starters are shooting under 40% from the field -- Francis, Jim Jackson and Kelvin Cato.

Yes, the same Cato who is a career 53-54% shooter. While his defense and board work are terrific, Cato is no offensive threat at all, and it puts extra pressure on the other guys when he's on the floor.

While Jeff Van Gundy can not be complimented enough for the Rocket transformation on defense, he has turned an average offensive team in to a mediocre one... and it's making this team painful to watch.

Clutch can be reached at and also can be followed on Twitter