Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 11/14

Game 1: Friday, November 14th
Game 2: Saturday, December 20th
Game 3: Monday, February 2nd
Game 4: Monday, March 15th

Suns 85

(3-5, 1-3 away)

Rockets 90


    7:30 PM ET, November 14, 2003

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 21 27 17 2085
    HOU 24 18 22 2690

    Top Performers

    PHX: S. Marbury 33 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

    Hou: Y. Ming 21 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 90
    FGM-FGA 30-79 (.380) 33-85 (.388)
    3PM-3PA 4-17 (.235) 7-20 (.350)
    FTM-FTA 21-23 (.913) 17-26 (.654)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-48 15-42
    Assists 19 17
    Turnovers 20 14
    Steals 8 6
    Blocks 12 7
    Fast Break Points 7 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (2/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Stephon Marbury Marbury
    Points: 33
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Yao Ming Ming
    Points: 21
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2