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Francis scores 26, Ming 21

HOUSTON (AP) -- Although Cuttino Mobley had another poor shooting
game, the other things he did made a big difference.

Mobley had a season-high eight assists and two steals Friday
night to help the Houston Rockets defeat the Phoenix Suns for the
fourth consecutive time, 90-85.

Steve Francis had 26 points and Yao Ming had 21 points and 14
rebounds.

After shooting only 2-of-10 against Dallas on Thursday, Mobley
was 3-of-13.

"It's the same as last night," coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
"Anybody can take you out of any play in the NBA the way the rules
are set. But they shouldn't be able to stop us when they overcommit
to one player on one side of the floor. Sometimes you've just got
to be a playmaker.

"I thought we were flat (in the second half) and Cuttino made a
couple of great plays, particularly his skip pass to Jim (Jackson)
when they took away his isolation with some zone principles.

"We did some good things against a very good team and that
makes it a real good win."

Mobley, who came in averaging 17.7 points, isn't worried about
his points.

"(Van Gundy) talked to me before the game today and said not to
let that bother me. He said even if you're not hitting your shot,
then be a playmaker. I did a lot of things, diving to the floor and
trying to help anyway I could. I felt good about it."

Stephon Marbury had 33 points, 22 in the first half, but didn't
like the way the Suns played the second half when they hit only 35
percent of their shots.

"We didn't make the shots and we lost and everything else is
irrelevant," Marbury said. "Our guys were really wide open and we
got so excited because we haven't been that wide open that much all
year.

"But we didn't make the shots. On the road, you have to
maintain and not let them change the momentum. They started really
doubling me hard (in the second half) but we didn't take advantage
of that by making our shots."

Yao missed two free throws with 43 seconds left, but then hit
two with 30 seconds to play. Francis added two foul shots with 22
seconds remaining and two more with 10 seconds left to clinch it.

The Rockets are in first place in the Midwest Division, the
first time they've been there after five or more games since Dec.
21, 1997.

Joe Johnson's 3-pointer gave the Suns a 65-64 lead after three
quarters. Bostjan Nachbar had five quick points to lift the Rockets
into a 69-69 tie, and a 6-0 run gave Houston a lead it would not
relinquish.

Marbury scored nine of the Suns' first 11 points of the second
quarter as Phoenix took a 32-31 lead. Behind eight points from
Stoudamire the rest of the quarter, Phoenix led by as many as
eight.

A 10-2 run by Houston made it a one-point game, 54-53 with 5:01
to play in the period, and the Rockets took their first lead of the
second half, 62-60, on a three-point play by Yao that completed a
7-0 run with 1:11 to play in the third.

Game notes
Marbury's 24 points through three quarters were the most
anyone had scored against the Rockets in a game this season. Dirk
Nowitzki's 23 was the previous high ... The Rockets have four of
the NBA's top 25 defensive efforts of the season, limiting Chicago
to 66, Miami to 70, New Jersey to 75 and Memphis to 79 points ...
It's the first time the Suns have been in last place in the Pacific
Division after five or more games since March 1, 1997 ... It was
the third sellout in five games at the new Toyota Center.