Francis scores 31; Mobley adds 21

HOUSTON (AP) -- Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley gave the
depleted Houston Rockets a huge lift.

Francis scored 31 points, Mobley added 21 and Houston sent the
Orlando Magic to their sixth straight loss with a 96-86 victory
Saturday night.

The Rockets were without forward Maurice Taylor, who sat out the
first game of his 10-game suspension for violating the NBA's
substance abuse policy. Also, Houston forward Eddie Griffin is
suspended indefinitely for missing practices and a team flight.

"We were getting the ball in the open," Francis said. "Coach
was calling our number a lot. We were able to get good looks and
knock them down."

Mobley also helped extend Tracy McGrady's offensive slump. The
defending scoring champion had 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting for
the Magic.

"I had a lot of help from the team," Mobley said. "I
definitely enjoy it. I want to show people I can play."

McGrady managed only four points on 2-for-10 shooting in Friday
night's 100-71 loss to Minnesota, his lowest total in a Magic
uniform and the first time in 116 games he didn't reach double

"It started with our defense on McGrady," Francis said. "They
scored 51 points in the first half. That was one of the big issues
(at halftime). We did a good job shutting them down the second

"Cuttino did a good job having a hand in his face every single

Yao Ming had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who
never trailed after the opening minutes and won their third
straight game.

Orlando coach Doc Rivers credited the Rockets guards.

"I feel between the two of them, they really hurt us, with
their penetration and shooting," Rivers said. "A lot of that came
from Yao with his passing."

Juwan Howard led the Magic with 22 points, and Tyronn Lue added

Leading 57-51 at halftime, the Rockets couldn't pull away in the
third period, and Orlando pulled to 81-78 early in the fourth on a
3-pointer by Keith Bogans.

Kelvin Cato scored four points in a 6-0 spurt that kept the
Rockets in charge. He finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Houston edged ahead 29-26 after the first quarter, then made the
first run of the game with a 12-1 spurt for a 41-27 lead as the
Magic went scoreless for the first 3:16 of the second quarter.

Orlando responded with a 13-1 run, cutting Houston's lead to
42-40 with 4:58 left in the period before three consecutive
3-pointers, two by Mobley and one by Francis, helped the Rockets
hold on for their six-point halftime lead.

Recently signed Scott Padgett played 15 solid minutes as a
replacement for Taylor.

"I thought Padgett did a tremendous job," Houston coach Jeff
Van Gundy said. "What we're trying to get on our team the more we
move along is the hardest-playing, toughest, best-shooting players
we can. And Scott fills the bill."

Game notes
The Magic are 19-12 in the regular season against the
Rockets. ... Rivers (171-163) needs 21 wins to pass Brian Hill and
become the winningest coach in Magic history. ... Houston's Moochie
Norris played in his 280th consecutive game, the second-longest
active streak in the NBA.