Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 11/4

Game 1: Tuesday, November 4th
Game 2: Saturday, January 31st

Rockets 86


Nets 75

(2-2, 1-1 home)

    7:30 PM ET, November 4, 2003

    IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 22 15 20 2986
    NJ 21 23 18 1375

    Top Performers

    Houston: C. Mobley 20 Pts, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    New Jersey: R. Jefferson 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl

    Francis powers Houston down the stretch

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Steve Francis found a way to make up for missing every shot in the first half. He simply didn't miss with the game on the line.

    Francis ignited a game-ending 14-1 run with eight straight points and an assist to lead the Houston Rockets to an 86-75 victory Tuesday night over the New Jersey Nets.

    "I was frustrated," said Francis, who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists after going 0-for-8 in the first half.

    "When you're not making shots, you're going to be upset about it," Francis added. "Coach calmed down. He told me he wouldn't play me the rest of the game if I kept acting like a fool. He told me winners forget the first half and come back in the second half."

    The coach Francis was talking about was Jeff Van Gundy. The Rockets' new head man is 3-1 since taking over a talented team and teaching it how to play defense.

    The Rockets came into the game leading the NBA in scoring defense, and they were tenacious in the fourth quarter, limiting New Jersey to 4-for-18 shooting from the field.

    "The Nets are a tough team but I figured if we could at least try to stop their fast break, you've got a better chance," said Cuttino Mobley, who led Houston with 20 points. "We played solid. We made them take jump shots. Luckily they missed a few of them and we got to fast break."

    New Jersey, which played without forwards Kenyon Martin and Rodney Rogers and shooting guard Lucious Harris, shot 33.8 percent for the game.

    "I am really proud of our guys but I don't think you can minimize who is out for the Nets," Van Gundy said after coaching his first game in the New York area since resigning as coach of the Knicks in December 2001.

    Richard Jefferson had 21 points to lead the Nets, who looked a little listless. Jason Kidd added 16 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in a performance that was misleading because he had 13 points in the first quarter.

    Kidd had no points or rebounds in the fourth quarter, and three assists.

    "We never had a run in the second half, so we never had momentum," Kidd said.

    Maurice Taylor added eight of his 14 points in the final quarter, while Yao Ming added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

    Yao wasn't overly impressive in a game that only drew 11,784 fans, but his performance was highlighted by a baseline drive and dunk around Alonzo Mourning in the first half and a late baseline jumper set up by Francis.

    The Nets took their last lead at 74-72 on a 3-pointer by Brian Scalabrine with 4:24 to play.

    Francis then took over. He tied the game with a 20-foot jumper, and put the Rockets ahead with a layup after Kerry Kittles missed a jumper.

    A missed layup by Jefferson led to a fast break that ended with Francis hitting two free throws for a 78-74 lead with three minutes to play.

    Francis then stole the ball from Kidd in the frontcourt and hit a layup. He also set up Yao's basket from the baseline for an 82-74 lead

    Mobley and Francis added jumpers before the final buzzer.

    "It was game we had control, but we just couldn't get stops and we definitely couldn't get baskets in the fourth quarter," Kidd said.< ^Notes@: A videotape replay at the end of the third quarter showed that a 3-pointer by Houston's Maurice Taylor came after the buzzer. It was originally called good. ... Rogers had a lacerated thumb. Martin has a sprained ankle and Harris has a bad back. ...Mourning finished with eight points. ...The Rockets won despite 22 turnovers, 10 more than the Nets.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 75
    FGM-FGA 35-66 (.530) 27-80 (.338)
    3PM-3PA 5-10 (.500) 4-12 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 11-17 (.647) 17-22 (.773)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 5-44 12-35
    Assists 17 21
    Turnovers 22 12
    Steals 9 12
    Blocks 4 1
    Fast Break Points 4 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (1/0) 20 (2/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Cuttino Mobley Mobley
    Points: 20
    Reb: 0
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Richard Jefferson Jefferson
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0