Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/13

Game 1: Friday, December 13th
Game 2: Monday, January 27th
Game 3: Saturday, February 22nd
Game 4: Tuesday, April 15th

    7:30 PM ET, February 22, 2003

    1 2 3 4 T
    MEM 21 24 14 2382
    HOU 25 31 27 1093

    Top Performers

    Memphis: L. Wright 24 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    Houston: C. Mobley 29 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Grizzlies' Wright says Rockets better minus Francis

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Playing without star guard Steve Francis didn't seem to bother the Houston Rockets.

    Cuttino Mobley scored 29 points and the Rockets held off a late Memphis Grizzlies rally for a 93-82 victory Saturday night, despite Francis being sidelined with a strained lower back.

    "I knew I had to pick up the slack without Steve,'' Mobley said. "There are roles that you've got to take on and I had to take on that role tonight. Moochie (Norris) was great. He got the ball around to everybody and he ran the team well.

    "He was the general out there.''

    Mobley had 20 points in the first half as the Rockets snapped a three-game home losing streak. Yao Ming had 18 points and seven rebounds while Norris, starting in place of Francis, had nine points and nine assists.

    "I just wanted to come in and make plays,'' Norris said. "I'm not going to shoot the ball and try to score 20-plus points like Steve. I'm more of a playmaker. I think I did my job tonight. I did my job, we got the win and the coaches were happy.''

    Francis will be reevaluated on Monday prior to a game at Boston but Grizzlies forward Lorenzen Wright thought the Rockets might have even been better off with Francis nursing his injuries.

    "They play better when he's not out there,'' Wright said. "That lets the other guys show what they can do. The other guys pick up their game. He carries so much of the scoring, when he's not out there, everybody else can play and divide it evenly.''

    The Rockets held a 25-point lead at 84-59 early in the fourth but the Grizzlies outscored Houston 23-10 in the final quarter to make the game close.

    Wright led Memphis with 24 points and tried to slow Yao.

    "I'm normally not that aggressive, but tonight I wanted to come out aggressive, because he's so big, I can't shoot over him, I had to go around him,'' Wright said.

    Leading 56-45 at the half, Houston used a 21-5 run over the final 6:52 of the third quarter to take an 83-59 lead. Memphis was playing its second game in as many nights, after losing to New Orleans 125-123 in overtime Friday night.

    Mobley scored 11 first-quarter points and Glen Rice scored 12 in the second as the Rockets used a 13-3 run to take a 56-45 halftime lead.

    "Cat (Mobley) had a big game,'' Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He loves these situations. He did it all the time last year. Cat carried us tonight.''

    The Rockets used a 15-4 run to take a 23-12 lead in the first quarter. The Grizzlies scored the next four baskets before Maurice Taylor's basket ended a 3:50 scoreless run for the Rockets and gave them a 25-21 lead heading into the second quarter.

    "It was one of the poorest efforts we've had in a long time and, despite that, we were able to get close in the second half,'' Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get it done.''

    Tomjanovich watched Yao closely in the closing minutes of the game.

    "He's tired,'' Tomjanovich said. "He's mentally tired more so than physically. I've told him through his interpreter some techniques I used when I played to try to rest your mind.''

    Game notes

    Prior to the game, the Grizzlies activated guard Brevin Knight and placed forward Ryan Humphrey on the injured list with a sprained left ankle. Knight had been on the injury list since Feb. 12 with a sprained right wrist. ... Rockets starting forward James Posey strained his left knee in the third quarter and did not return.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 82 93
    FGM-FGA 31-83 (.373) 39-86 (.453)
    3PM-3PA 2-8 (.250) 4-12 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 18-25 (.720) 11-14 (.786)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-41 15-51
    Assists 17 26
    Turnovers 10 13
    Steals 8 4
    Blocks 3 6
    Fast Break Points 4 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 22 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Lorenzen Wright Wright
    Points: 24
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Cuttino Mobley Mobley
    Points: 29
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1