Bad news for Rockets fans: The guards are struggling.
Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley each missed 8 of the 11 shots they took as the Lakers held off the Rockets late, winning 105-99 behind Kobe Bryant's 37 points and 10 boards.
On a night the Rockets held Shaquille O'Neal to 14 points and 5 boards before fouling out in the fourth, they couldn't capitalize with a win.
The loss drops the Rockets to 3-5.
Meanwhile, Mobley and Francis have some 'splaining to do.
Francis scored just 10 points on 3-11 shooting to go with just 2 assists and 3 turnovers (primarily on palming violations, which the Rockets are being hawked on by the refs). Mobley didn't score a single point in the first half, though he finished with 13 thanks to 7 freebies. He too bricked 8 of his 11 shots.
And Shandon Anderson also has disappeared. Shan finished with just 3 points, coming off a trifecta he nailed early on.
Guys, we need you... because the rest of the team didn't do too bad.
Moochie Norris connected on 6-7 from the field to finish with 15 big points, 4 boards and 3 assists in just 20 minutes of action off the bench. Mooch had it going on... using the glass to score a few to boot.
Kenny Thomas, subbing for the incredibly foul-prone Maurice Taylor (8 points, 5 fouls in 12 minutes), did hit just 5-15 shots, but he looked aggressive all night, finishing with 14 points and 8 boards. Walt Williams added 13, connecting on both of his threes, and Hakeem Olajuwon also scored 13 to go with 7 boards -- not to mention a bigtime block in the first quarter of Kobe.
And Jason Collier.... how about that major league swat he had in the first quarter of that weak attempt by Isaiah Rider? Damn that was nice. Collier finished with 10 points.
But in the end, Kobe was too much .... and lets face it, he should be considering he put up 30 shots from the field and 15 from the line. My goodness... the guy thinks he is the second coming.
On a side note, I wish NBA League Pass would get off their ass and show some Worrell-Murphy announced games. That's two Rockets-Lakers games, both home and away, we had to listen to the Lakers crew. Question: Is Lakers announcer Chick Hearn senile? The man's losing it... at one point tonight he referred to Shaq as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
I wish I was joking. I'm not.
Maurice Taylor picked up 2 fouls in the first 2 minutes so seeing extended time was Kenny Thomas, and he put it to good use. Kenny scored 9 points on 3-6 shooting and grabbed 3 boards in the first quarter as the Rockets led 27-25 after one.
The game was tied 31-31 before Kobe Bryant sparked a 12-0 Lakers run that ignited the crowd and busted open a close game, 43-31 Lakers.
However, after Moochie Norris scored 3 straight buckets the Rockets were within 45-40. Moochie then nailed another jumper and it was 47-44 Lakers.
But the Rockets couldn't keep the momentum and couldn't stop Kobe -- after "Jordan In His Own Mind" hit a driving layup and a three-pointer, the Lakers capped a 7-0 flurry to finish the half leading 54-44.
The Rockets were in trouble: Francis had just 5 points at half while Mobley had zip. Zero. Nada.
Mo Taylor continued to get himself in hot water with fouls, picking up his 4th and 5th fouls early in the third period, relegating himself to the pine.
The Rockets let up big time too as the Lakers upped their lead to 15, 67-52. The Rockets, behind Olajuwon, came back though and after and Anderson three and a three-point play by the Dream it was 74-68 Lakers.
The Rockets trailed by just 7 just before the third quarter before Isaiah Rider nailed a three before the buzzer, giving the Lakers an 82-72 lead.
After a Moochie three-point play the lead was 82-78 and when Kenny Thomas hit a short turnaround bank shot, the lead for the Lakers was whittled down to 3.
But Rider responded with a turnaround bucket and Robert Horry nailed a wide open three and just like that the Lakers opened the lead back up to 8, 89-81.
After a Rider three-point play it was 97-87 Lakers, but the Rockets came roaring back, and after a pair of Moochie free throws it was 99-95.
But the Rockets didn't play smart. Down 4 and with the ball Francis drove the ane with no options, and on the other end the Rockets played good D until Mobley unwisely fouled Kobe with 4 seconds left on the shot clock, putting him at the line and giving the Lakers a 101-95 edge.
The Rockets had one last chance, down 104-99 with under a minute left, but Mobley bricked a three and that in essence ended the ballgame.