HOUSTON, Dec. 31 (Ticker) --
scored 14 of his 26 points
in the second quarter as the Houston Rockets closed out the 2002
portion of the NBA season with a 103-80 victory over the
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Francis took control in the second period, when the Rockets
broke open a tie game and grabbed a 50-36 halftime lead. After
shooting just 7-of-21 from the field in the opening quarter,
Houston made 12-of-16 shots in the second period.
"We distributed the ball well," said Francis, who also had nine
assists. "Everybody got looks."
"He had some mismatches when they respected the drive and he got
some open shots," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "That's
a long night trying to guard him. Steve is growing on the
mental side of basketball very much."
The Rockets pulled away in the third quarter and cruised to
their 12th victory in 16 home games. They improved to 2-2 on a
scored 19 points and rookie sensation
added 16 and eight rebounds for Houston, which shot 50 percent
scored 22 points for the Bucks, who
were coming off Monday's surprising win at Dallas but fell to
5-12 on the road.
"The back-to-back games are no excuse," said Bucks reserve
, who scored 12 points. "We didn't play as
hard as we can and got beat.
Milwaukee also was without leading scorer
, who sat out
with two sore ankles.
started in his place but
scored just two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
"That slowed them up a lot," Mobley said. "That's a big plus
for us. They played four games in five days. They were tired.
Playing on New Year's Eve at 9 p.m. local time did not sit well
with either team, who were meeting the media and showering when
"(It) was something different," Bucks coach George Karl said.
"I'm very disappointed in the effort we put forth. We never met
the level of intensity that Houston brought to the game."
"Terrible," Cassell added. "It would have been OK playing New
Year's Eve at 7 p.m., but 9 p.m. is too late."
Caffey's baseline jumper pulled Milwaukee into a 32-32 tie with
3:45 left in the second quarter before Francis accounted for
every point in an 11-0 burst. He scored nine and fed
for a fast-break layup.
A layup by
cut the deficit to 58-46 with 7:50 left
in the third quarter before Houston ran off 10 straight points.
A 3-pointer by Mobley capped the surge and made it 68-46 with
5:31 to go.
The Rockets held an 83-58 lead entering the final period and
rested all their regulars. Bucks rookie
last basket of 2002, a 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go.
"That was the first I've rested in the fourth quarter," Francis