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