Right about now, Mark Cuban is wondering where he could buy a Steve Francis.
The Rockets franchise point guard scored 33 points in the same amount of minutes as Houston obliviated Dallas in the third quarter, 41-18, and cruised to a 37-point rout, 124-87.
The win ups Houston to 6-4 overall, and drops the Mavs to the same record.
Francis was simply awesome. A point a minute, 13-18 shooting and 9 boards -- he scored 17 points alone in the first quarter, taking Sheepdog Nash to the woodshed. The Mavs weren't on their game, and Stevie made them pay.
Having Cuttino Mobley by his side can't hurt. Cat hit 7-9 shots from the floor, including a pair of triples, in scoring 20 points, 7 boards and 5 dimes. That means the Rockets' starting guard duo combined to score 53 points on 20-27 shooting and grab 16 boards.
Said Mavs coach Don Nelson, "They're a good shooting team and when they get hot they can have games like this. Their guard play really hurt us tonight."
No kidding, Nellie.
But the biggest surprise was Rudy T actually changing his lineup, and playing Walt Williams at center in favor of Kelvin Cato (and rumor has it Cato was extremely upset over it, fueled even more by the fact that he played just 6 minutes of garbage time). Walt made Rudy look like a genius by going Glen Rice-circa-'95 on the Mavs, scoring 21 points and knocking down 4 big bombs from downtown.
As for the real Rice, he managed just 6 points on 1-5 shooting (0-3 from long range) in substantial minutes (37). It's clear that, even in a rout like this, Rudy wants to get Glen as much PT as possible to better integrate his skills with Francis, Mobley and the rest of the squad.
With Cato benched and a practical no-show, Kevin Willis did what he usually does: step up big off the bench. Another 13 points and 12 boards for the T-Rex.
Aside from the fact that it was a big win of an interdivision (and interstate) rival, the best news was the play of Eddie Griffin. Though it was garbage time, Griffin scored 8 points in 8 minutes off the bench, including 2 mid-long range jumpers and a sweet finger roll just in front of Shawn Bradley on a fast break. Looks to me like Rudy is trying to get the kid to be a lot less shy putting the ball up.
The Rockets had their best shooting performance of the season, hitting over 57% from the floor, and crushed Dallas on the glass 50-29.