The young Rockets are showing they can play with anybody.
They just can't beat anybody.
Vince Carter put on a show on the Compaq Center floor, scoring 35 points, as the Toronto Raptors just edged the Rockets 100-99 in Houston. The loss drops the Rockets record to 9-20.
Carter was a highlight film, going for 35 points (on 11-25 shooting) and grabbing 12 boards. He hit two late freebies that gave the Raptors a 4-point lead with 6 seconds left in the game.
The shame is the Rockets could have won this game. They led by 2 after two Kelvin Cato free throws with a minute left but Toronto scored 4 straight and Cuttino Mobley missed a jumper and the Rockets couldn't regain the lead from there.
Mobley may take some of the abuse, being that he took 24 shots (11 more than any Rocket), making just 9 of them to score 21 points, 4 boards and 5 turnovers. Particularly late, several isolation plays were ran for Mobley.
Steve Francis had a horrible shooting night, but is showing he could be a triple-double threat on any night. He hit just 2-9 shots for what has to be a career low 5 points, but dished off 12 assists and grabbed 7 boards in 33 minutes of play.
Quietly becoming a special player is Carlos Rogers, who scored 12 of the first 13 Rocket points. He left the game for several minutes after an eye injury, but finished with 19 points, 8 boards and a pair of steals in 32 minutes of play.
I also have to give props to Walt Williams, who admittedly has taken heaps of abuse from us (and might we add for his play for most of the year, rightfully so). Walt had his second straight solid offensive outing, this time going for 16 points on 7-11 shooting as well as 7 boards in 24 minutes off the bench.
Maybe Walt really has snapped out of it.
Someone who isn't snapping out of it though is Shandon Anderson. Anderson started instead of Matt Bullard (6 points), giving the Rockets the PG-SG-SF combo of Francis-Mobley-Anderson to start. Anderson hit just 1-7 from the floor for 4 points and 5 boards.
Cato was solid, scoring 14 points, grabbing 5 boards and blocking a pair in 24 minutes off the bench. Bryce Drew played as many minutes (33) as Francis surprisingly, going 3-9 from the field for 11 points and 5 boards. The odd part is Drew was 0-6 from inside the arc and 3-3 from three-point range -- in fact it was Drew's late three that cut the Raptors lead to 100-99.
No other Rocket hit a three-pointer. Drew was 3-3. The rest of the team was 0-10.