HOUSTON, Feb. 22 (Ticker) -- With Steve Francis nursing a sore back, Cuttino Mobley carried the Houston Rockets.

NBA TV highlights from
Grizzlies-Rockets:
56k | 300k
Mobley scored 29 points to help make up for the absence of Francis, and rookie Yao Ming had his way in the paint as the Houston Rockets posted a 93-82 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Rockets' leading scorer at 22.6 points per game, Francis missed the contest with a sore lower back. But Mobley helped pick up the slack for his missing backcourt mate.

Mobley did all his scoring in the first three quarters as the Rockets build a commanding 83-59 advantage entering the final period.

"I knew I had to pick it up tonight," said Mobley, who went 11-of-17 from the field. "There are roles you've got to take on and I had to take on that role tonight."

"Cuttino had a big game," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He loves these situations. He did it all last year (when Francis missed numerous games with migraine headaches). Cuttino carried us tonight."

Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown feared Mobley coming into the contest.

"I had a bad feeling that Mobley was going to have a monster game," he said. "It was very tough for our guys to stop him."

The 7-5 Yao dominated down low, making 8-of-14 shots while also grabbing seven rebounds. Yao helped the Rockets outscore the Grizzlies by a lopsided 60-38 in the paint.

Tomjanovich thought getting the ball in good position in the low post was key.

"That was important. It helped us shoot a high percentage," he said. "We're establishing a bit of a style. We're building our own foundation, starting with that."

"Yao was great. His presence is really big," Brown said. "He did a terrific job in not rushing things, he took the hard double team and still made the passes."

Matched against Yao, Lorenzen Wright finished with 24 points for the Grizzlies, who were coming off Friday's tough 125-123 overtime loss at New Orleans.

"When Steve (Francis) is not playing, I think the other Houston players play better because everyone else has a chance to step up and play their game and move the ball around easily," Wright said.

Mobley scored 11 points in the opening 12 minutes had six in a 13-4 run to start the second quarter, providing the Rockets with a 38-25 advantage.

Moochie Norris, who started in the backcourt in Francis' place, fed Yao for a dunk with 3:38 left in the half, extending the lead to 49-34.

Activated from the injured list earlier in the week, Glen Rice scored all 12 of his points during the decisive second quarter for the Rockets.

Norris effectively ran the point, handing out six of his nine assists in the first half, when the Rockets shot 50 percent (24-of-48). They finished at 45 percent (39-of-86) and had 26 assists.

"I just tried to make plays," Norris said. "I'm more of a playmaker than a scorer. I think I did my job. We got the win and my coaches were happy."

A pair of free throws by Wesley Person with 7 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter pulled the Grizzlies within 62-54. But the Rockets responded with their best stretch of the game.

Norris drilled a 3-pointer to trigger a 21-4 surge that featured nine points from Mobley, giving the Rockets an 83-57 advantage with 21 seconds left.

Recently acquired Mike Miller, Jason Williams and Stromile Swift scored 11 points apiece for the Grizzlies, who used a 19-5 run in the fourth quarter to make the final score respectable.

Memphis shot 37 percent (31-of-83) and was outrebounded, 51-41.