Stop the presses: The Rockets are growing up fast.
Going up against the Hornets, who were 24-20 and 14-6 at home, the Rockets showed the same energy and enthusiasm they did 24 hours earlier against the Grizzlies, and laid a whopper of a sting on Charlotte 110-97.
The win ups the Rockets' mark to .500 once again at 22-22.
The Rockets led by as much ass 22 in the fourth before a huge Hornets charge cut it to as close as 7... but Walt Williams (18 points) was strokin' it from long range, hitting 5 of 6, and 2 of his threes were huge in killing the Hornets rally.
The Rockets sizzled. They hit nearly 65% of their three-point shots (11-17) and shot a sizzling 59% from the floor for the game.
So impressive was the performance by the Rockets that Charlotte guard Hersey Hawkins was left dumbfounded. "I've never seen anything quite like that," said Hawkins. "They were quicker and faster than we were all night, and they got any shot they wanted."
Cuttino Mobley was huge in the third quarter. He scored 12 of his 23 points in the period and added 5 more early in the fourth to help the Rockets build a big lead (they would need it since almost all of it was squandered).
Cat isn't playing the one-dimensional game (scoring) anymore these days. He's been rebounding very well and tonight he passed it well to boot. 7 assists and 5 boards for Cuttino.
Not to be overlooked was Steve Francis, who dwarfed Baron Davis (selected #3 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft, right behind Francis). Davis did have 12 assists, but scored just 6 points, 8 below his average, on 2-8 from the floor.
Francis meanwhile put up 20 points and 10 assists. Big advantage Stevie.
The beauty of it was the connection Francis and Mobley seemed to have on the court. They worked beautifully together, particularly in the third quarter when the Rockets turned a good advantage in to a rout.
Plain and simle, their enthusiasm and energy drives this team.
Maurice Taylor was hot, hot, hot, hitting 9-12 from the floor for 18 points against the likes of PJ Brown and Derrick Coleman (17 points, 6 boards).
Kenny Thomas added 10 points, Shandon Anderson 8 and Carlos Rogers 6. Hakeem Olajuwon, starting at center, had 4 points in 17 minutes of play.
David Wesley led the Hornets with 25 points while Jamal Mashburn added 20.
Maurice Taylor scored 10 points in the first quarter, but that couldn't cool off the Hornets. They hit 8 of their first 9 shots en route to taking a 31-24 edge in to the second quarter.
From there, the Rockets exploded out on a 24-9 run to start the second quarter. They were shooting the lights out -- 66% shooting at this stage. Walt Williams hit his first 3 shots, including a pair of threes, for 8 points.
When Moochie fired off a pass from the hip to Walt, Williams put up his third triple and nailed it and the Rockets led 51-42.
Cuttino scored a deuce, then Kenny Thomas drained a triple and the Rockets had a tremendous 56-42 lead at the half. They outscored Charlotte 32-11 in the second period.
The third started with another triple, this one by Shandon Anderson, and the lead was 17 points for the Rockets.
The Hornets threatened, going on an 11-4 run cutting the lead to 10, but Francis found Mobley underneath for a 3-point play then made a pinpoint pass again to a cutting Mobley for a two to the rack -- just like that Paul Silas and company had to call timeout, down 15 again (68-53).
The Rockets didn't let up. After Kenny Thomas hit a runner, Mobley hit a three than Mo Taylor hit a jumper it was 85-65 Rockets.
Cuttino had 12 in the third period alone. He had 17 points and 7 assists through three while Francis had 15 and 9.
Mobley kept the heat on, banking in a jumper than draining a three -- the Rockets had built up a 22-point lead early in the fourth.
But Charlotte came flying back. Baron Davis started to score and when Eddie Robinson hit a deuce, the lead was down to 12, 93-81.
The Rockets committed 2 straight turnovers, and Baron Davis found Eddie Robinson on a fast break for a bucket and foul and the Hive was rocking. Robinson missed the free throw however.
Mobley committed a charge, and Derrick Coleman responded with a 10-foot bank shot... the lead was down to 8 and the run for the Hornets was now 14-0.
Walt made 1-2 free throws to mercifully end the scoreless streak, but Coleman hit 2 freebies on the other end to make it 94-87 with 4:14 left.
Wizard responded with a three, his fourth of the game, and the crowd was silenced.
The Hornets twice cut it back to 8, but Mo Taylor drove the lane for a bucket with 2:30 left to make it 101-91 Rockets.
Down 101-93, Charlotte had the ball... Coleman drove the lane but Francis intercepted his path and picked the ball from him, falling to the floor and wisely calling timeout with 1:43 left.
Walt put the nail in the coffin, hitting his 5th triple with 1:28 to go, increasing the Rockets' lead to 11.