Any doubts? After two poor performances, Mo has busted out in the past three games for averages of 26 points and 7 boards while hitting 60% of his shots. Go Mo, Go!
Not because he went 0-4 from the field, which would warrant the award by itself, but because he dared to drive on Hakeem Olajuwon. Dream simply blocked the shot and took it out of his hands in one motion, drawing huge cheers from the crowd and making Amaechi look more than a little foolish.
Big Mo scored a career-high 34 points to lead the Rockets over the Orlando Magic 105-95 Saturday night in the Compaq Center. It was the first time since 1994 the Rockets had beaten the Magic in the regular season (of course there was that little 4-0 record in the 1995 Finals).
The Rockets, 30-26, have now won 4 straight and 8 of their last 9 games.
In a word it was "Mo", and then some mo Mo. Mo's previous career high was 31, ironically enough against us last season (in the Rockets' 122-100 win over the Clippers on December 30, 1999), but he broke that high after playing Ironman minutes Friday night (all 48). Taylor got to the line a staggering 15 times, making 11 freebies and hit 11-20 shots from the floor. He also grabbed 6 boards, blocked a pair of shots and -- get this -- dished 5 assists.
Dude just exploded.
"Maurice is on a roll right now," said Magic coach Doc Rivers. "We had to leave someone open to try and stop their guards so we left him and he hit big shots. He was the key for them to win tonight."
Bad move. Mo made them pay all night, hitting jumpers and showing the aggressive moves to the basket that he's been unleashing the past few games.
With Hakeem Olajuwon and Mo Taylor showing a resurgence in the paint, the Rockets may very well have the playoffs in their future.
Speaking of Olajuwon, he too stepped up huge. Dream scored 16, snared 12 boards and blocked 3 shots.
While Taylor was awesome, it was Steve Francis who was finishing the Magic off late. With the Rockets up just one midway through the fourth quarter, Stevie nailed a baseline trey, a runner and a long jumper to put the Rockets up 99-93... a lead from there they would not relinquish. Francis finished with 17 points, 11 boards and 8 assists -- just 2 dimes shy of a triple double.
Tracy McGrady (32 points) says the way he is improving that some day he may average a triple double. Stevie may beat him to it.
Can't say enough also about Cuttino Mobley in this game. Cat played 48 minutes and scored 11 of his 23 in the third period, including 8 straight at one point. He hit 9-14 shots, grabbed 5 boards and picked 3 steals and didn't have much in the "Dump Play" department.
The Rockets shot 50% for the game and held Orlando to just under 43% shooting. They destroyed the Magic on the boards 49-32 and it wouldn't have been this close if Orlando hadn't gone gonzo from three-point territory (9-23)... Mike Miller seemed to hit every bomb he threw up. Damn I wish we had gotten that guy in the draft.
No offense, Collier.
Maurice Taylor scored 4 quick points and the Rockets got out to an 8-4 lead, but the Magic quickly ran off 5 straight and from there it was back and forth, leads changing hands often.
After Shandon Anderson picked a steal he found Steve Francis for a jaw-dropping, one-handed alleyoop -- just sick -- and the game was tied at 22.
Shadon tipped in a miss to give the Rockets a 1-point edge, but Mike Miller nailed his third three-pointer of the period with 4 seconds left, giving the Magic a 28-26 edge after one. Mo Taylor led all scorers with 12 points in the period. Tracy McGrady had 10 and Miller 9 for the Magic.
The Rockets got going early in the second. Mo Taylor nailed 4 straight free throws, the last 2 at the 8:34 mark putting Houston up 38-33. At that point Mo had already gone to the free throw line 9 times (making 8) and had 16 total points.
The limit seemed to be 5 points for our lead.... every time the Rockets got up 5 the Magic came storming back. Houston led 48-43 and the Magic scored 4 quick points, then back-to-back horrendous calls by the refs cost the Rockets:
Mo Taylor scored and got fouled by Doleac with the Orlando center right under the basket, but the ref called charging. So bad was the call that Rudy T got called for a technical for bitching about it. Then Mobley was mugged on an alleyoop attempt and the refs swallowed their whistles.
When Tracy McGrady hit a three, the Magic led 51-50.
But after Hakeem hit a turnaround, Mobley a three-pointer, then Hakeem took an inbounds with 1.1 seconds left in the half and nailed a 15-foot baseline jumper at the buzzer -- the Rockets led 57-54 at half.
Mo Taylor led all scorers with 19 points and shot an astounding 13 free throws in the half, making 11. Mobley and Hakeem each had 11 in the first half. McGrady led the Magic with 17.
Mo Taylor nailed back to back jumpers early in the third, giving the Rockets a 61-57 lead, but the three-happy Magic hit two consecutive triples (by McGrady and Miller) to take a 63-61 edge.
Darrell Armstrong then nailed a triple (the Magic were 9-18 from beyond the arc at this point) and it was 70-66 Orlando.
Mobley got the Rockets going... he scored 6 points during that span, then another bucket... and after he found Mo Taylor for a slam on a drive the Rockets were back in it. Mo Taylor then nailed a 16-footer giving him 27 points and bringing the Rockets to within one at 75-74.
When Francis hit Mobley for an alleyoop, the Rockets reclaimed the lead 77-76.
After Mobley slammed in an Hakeem miss, giving him 22 points, the Rockets led 84-80 and that closed the scoring of the third period.
The Rockets led 86-82, but after three straight baskets by McGrady, the Magic regained the lead 88-87.
When Walt Williams nailed a three, the Rockets took a 92-91 lead with 6:48 to go. With 5:28 left, Francis nailed a huge three from the baseline making it 95-91. McGrady went up for a dunk but Walt blocked it, getting a huge response from the fans.
After Doleac nailed a jumper, Francis broke a double team for a sweet runner from 7-feet out putting Houston up 97-93 with 4:04 left.
With 2:14 left, Francis drained an 18-footer making it 99-93, but Armstrong immediately responded with a jumper. Then Mo Taylor hit a 19-footer, giving him a new career high of 32 points, and putting the Rockets up 101-95.
Shandon Anderson then forced a loose ball, picked it up and found a streaking Mobley who was fouled by Mike Miller. Mobley made 1 of 2, putting the Rockets up 102-95.
Taylor then nailed another 20-footer with 54.5 seconds left, putting the Rockets up 104-95... he ran down the court screaming. The place was ROCKING and the Rockets had a big win.