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Francis plays in first half, lifts spirits

12/29/2001

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Steve Francis watched the second half in
street clothes, and still made a big difference for Houston.

Cuttino Mobley scored 31 points as the Rockets continued their
success on the road against Golden State, beating the Warriors
100-93 Friday night.

Francis, activated from the injured list earlier in the day,
played 15 minutes in the first half in his first game since
suffering a ruptured plantar fascia in his left foot on Nov. 26. He
scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting with two assists and two
rebounds.

"That really gave the guys a lift," teammate Moochie Norris
said. "He was excited. I was excited. Everybody was excited about
having him back."

The Rockets planned before the game to limit him to 15 minutes,
which is why he was not in uniform for the second half.

Kenny Thomas added 20 points and 13 rebounds as the Rockets won
their 12th straight on the Warriors' home court. Norris had 19
points and Eddie Griffin matched his career-high with 13 rebounds.

Antawn Jamison led Golden State, which had a two-game winning
streak stopped, with 18 points. Larry Hughes added 17 points, Danny
Fortson had 14 and Chris Mills 13.

The third-year guard was enjoying his best season, averaging a
career-high 21 points, 7.8 rebounds and a team-high 5.8 assists
before the injury. The Rockets went 1-15 without Francis.

"Francis gave them 15 good minutes," said Golden State coach
Brian Winters. "Their record is their record because they're hurt,
not because they're a bad team. Steve gave them a shot in the arm
and him playing was just as much a psychological lift as
anything."

The Rockets, who have won two of three since losing 15 straight,
never trailed after Kelvin Cato dunked early in the second half.
They eventually built a 12-point edge late in the fourth quarter.

"I just felt it tonight," said Mobley. "My shot kept falling
and my teammates kept getting me the ball."

The Warriors last beat Houston at home on March 7, 1996. The
Rockets are 16-1 in their last 17 road games against the Warriors.

The Warriors closed within four points in the final minute, but
Houston made its free throws down the stretch.

"They leave a lot of open spaces for themselves and their
teammates," said Warriors guard Jason Richardson. "They get
everybody involved and get people to the basket."

Thomas, who took an elbow in the hip from Warriors center Marc
Jackson while the pair were going for a rebound midway through the
fourth quarter, left the court with 5:27 remaining.

Mobley scored 11 of his points in the third quarter as Houston
shot 67 percent (12-of-18) in grabbing a 74-69 advantage entering
the final period.

"Cuttino Mobley is on a rampage lately," said Rockets coach
Rudy Tomjanovich, "and you can't ask for more from Steve Francis.
he came out under control and got us going."

The Rockets held the biggest lead of the first half at 26-19,
but the Warriors came back to take a four-point advantage late.
Mobley scored the final four points of the second quarter to tie
the game at 46 going into the locker room.

Game notes
Rockets forward Dan Langhi (left ankle tendinitis) was
placed on the injured list to make room for Francis. ... Walt
Williams, who missed Wednesday's loss to Phoenix, was back in the
starting lineup for the Rockets. ... Center Erick Dampier
(hyperextended left knee) missed his fourth straight game for the
Warriors. ... The Warriors attempted a season-high 104 shots. ...
The Michigan State basketball team, in town to play Stanford on
Saturday, was in attendance as guests of Richardson, a former
Spartan.