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12/10/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Spurs sputter past Rockets
12/10/2003 - San Antonio Express-News
Elie might have been Houston assistant
12/10/2003 - San Antonio Express-News
Spurs and Rockets tie scoring mark
12/10/2003 - Houston Chronicle
Horry sounds off with rim shots
12/10/2003 - San Antonio Express-News
Houston fans boo point scarcity
Rockets Uglier Than Spurs
Francis, Yao shoot blanks as Rockets fall to Spurs in terribly low scoring affair
By Clutch

No Go Inside: Yao did not play strong Thursday night against the Spurs, finishing with just 8 points (AP photo)
Very rarely did you hear the "swish" sound tonight, but when you did it was usually when Cuttino was shooting. Outside of Jim Jackson (4-6 shooting), Mobley was the only Rocket to hit 50% or better from the field. 19 points on 8-14 shooting for Cuttino
Give it to both of them, because both deserve the dishonor. Yao looked like someone hit him with a sledgehammer every time he got the ball while Francis didn't look like a point guard and couldn't hit a shot for that matter either.
New Rocket promotion: If both teams combine to score 100 points, free burgers!

Given their latest offensive output, it's no shoe-in.

Houston and San Antonio set an NBA record for futility in a half by combining for just 55 points by halftime (30-25 Spurs), and though the Rockets led by 4 late, Tim Duncan and the Spurs seized control when it counted, beating the Rockets 71-67 in Houston Thursday night.

The loss drops the Rockets to 13-8 on the season.

Defense may win championships, but the Spurs and Rockets showed that it sure as hell isn't going to win any fans. Watching this abomination, the evil spawn of a drowning NBA, was physically painful. I actually checked the TV guide to see if there was perhaps a local junior high game, a televised church league contest or "Alf" reruns on the tube. You know, something with some entertainment value, because this Rockets game had little to none.

At one point in the fourth quarter the score was 46-45. Simply unreal.

The Spurs were shooting between 25-27% from the floor until mid fourth quarter and finished at just 32%. They also were 28% from long range and just over 50% from the free throw line. Yet there they were, winning. You know Duncan and the Spurs had to be sitting there in the huddle, staring at each other, wondering how in the world they were still in this contest.

The Rockets coughed up 20 turnovers and shot just 6 free throws for the game, compared to San Antonio's 21 freebies.

The Rockets' stars were a big part of the problem. Both Yao Ming and Steve Francis were the worst performers that Jeff Van Gundy put out on the floor tonight.

There's no need to mince words really, you just got to get it out there: Yao was terrible. His shot was way off and he was softer than Charmin inside against Duncan and Rasho Nesterovic. He was a strip or block waiting to happen. 4-13 shooting for 8 points was the final damage, but it doesn't really say how bad he was. Whenever a tough body was on him, he was pretty much shut down.

But you must keep in mind that, without Yao, the Rockets' defense (which kept Houston in the game) just doesn't really exist.

As for Francis, there is legitimate reason to be concerned. He had just 3 assists and 5 turnovers tonight, missing 15 of his 22 shots.

I can't for the life of me figure out what Van Gundy is making Francis out to be on this team. Right now it looks like he is an $80 million carrier of the ball between defense and offense where he either comes off a screen to shoot or hands it to someone who can run the offense (which right now is Jim Jackson). However, even that looks to be a great challenge to him. Francis also hasn't show the ability to take it to the rack like he has in the past.

At one point in the second quarter the Rockets picked a Spurs pass and Francis got the loose ball and ran down the court on a fast break attempt. Only Steve just looked silly doing it. He dribbled the ball off his knee out of bounds and with the Rockets already having missed several shots and made some big turnovers, there were more than your usual amount of boos coming down from the Toyota Center rafters. You could visibly see the frustration on Steve's face and I think he's starting to take this very personally.

He should, because facts are facts: This is the worst season so far of Steve's 5-year career. His points, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists (now less than 5 a game) are significantly down while his minutes, shot attempts and turnovers have remained pretty much the same from last season. You can't really call this a slump any more.

Props to Cuttino Mobley tonight as without him the Rockets would have been lucky to crack 50 on the scoreboard. Cat hit 8-14 shots to lead the Rockets with 19 points. Maurice Taylor also came off the bench to score 10 and grab 7 boards.

The Rockets can redeem themselves very quickly when they get the chance to play the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday. The hope continues to be that the Rockets' offense will come alive, but against the same opponent, it could be Part II of the NBA's worst nightmare.

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