And with that, the hellish nightmare of a season is over.
The Rockets needed a loss to secure the 5th spot in Lottery Race 2002, and they delivered in "without a doubt" fashion. They scored just 9 points in the first quarter, and never threatened throughout as the Blazers went on to the 92-79 victory in Portland.
The Rockets finished the season at 28-54.
Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley were again long gone for this one. Nowehere to be found. The Rockets weren't about to let a win cost them, and they didn't. The bench started and couldn't produce much.
Tierre Brown was a bright spot though. The rookie, who hardly played all season, scored a career-high 16 points, dished 7 assists and grabbed 5 boards in 44 minutes of play. Oscar Torres also added 16, hitting 6-13 from the field.
Kenny Thomas led all scorers with 19 points.
Zach randolph was pretty impressive for Portland. The Blazers rookie really never played this season, but he was really sharp in the Rocky Mountain Revue this past offseason, and had 14 points and 9 boards in 28 minutes Wednesday.
So where do the Rockets go from here?
Honestly, they have a lot of thinking and soul-searching to do. Both Mobley and Francis have to think this season about now just how to improve their play, but what they're going to do to make this a better ballclub. A lesson in unselfish play could be helpful here.
What will happen with Maurice Taylor and Kenny Thomas? That also will be an interesting scenario. KT played terrific at times this season. Taylor was out all year, got busted by the league for marijuana use and signed a fat contract. He may be unmoveable... KT on the other hand is not. If the Rockets can package KT along with one of their draft picks for a solid player that fits a need, many think that route will be taken.
Dan Langhi? He's gone. Didn't do much in his strong PT down the stretch. You would have to call the Eduardo Najera and a second-round draft pick for Dan Langhi deal a bust for the Rockets. The Rockets will probably go Terence Morris from here for the spot duty at small forward.
But overall, the Rockets as an organization know they have to put a much better product than this on the floor. This team lost fan interest on many levels and was tough to watch - very tough. Very little team basketball. That's Rudy's job, and as much as it could be tough to believe, you may have some calling for his head if the Rockets endure another season like this.
But most likely, only Francis and Eddie Griffin are safe.