Sun, 19 Jan 2003

Spotlight on Francis as Rockets edge Lakers

Reuters, Houston, Texas

Steve Francis amassed a career-high 44 points to guide the Houston Rockets to a 108-104 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Friday.

The Houston guard dominated a game that was billed as a showdown between huge centers Shaquille O'Neal and Yao Ming of China.

Francis, who also had 11 assists and six rebounds, turned in a sizzling performance for the Rockets while Cuttino Mobley added 28 points.

Yao had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets and blocked O'Neal's first three shots.

The five-game winning streak of the Lakers was snapped despite 31 points and 12 rebounds from O'Neal and a near triple-double from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant had 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists while Derek Fisher and Rick Fox both added 13 points.

In Seattle, Gary Payton had 27 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists as the SuperSonics defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 103-97 in overtime.

Rashard Lewis scored 24 points as Seattle ended a six-game losing streak. Desmond Mason added 20 points.

Pau Gasol led Memphis with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

In Oakland, California, Earl Boykins picked up 28 points as the Golden State Warriors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-98.

Antawn Jamieson had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Warriors while Gilbert Arenas had 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Kevin Garnett collected 22 points for the Timberwolves.

In Phoenix, Stephon Marbury had 41 points and 11 assists as the Suns handed the Dallas Mavericks their second successive loss, 111-106.

Joe Johnson added 20 points and nine rebounds as the Suns ended a two-game losing streak. Shawn Marion had 16 points and nine rebounds.

Steve Nash recorded a season-high 32 points for the Mavericks, who lost two consecutive games for the first time this season. Dirk Nowitzki had 20 points and 14 rebounds while Raef LaFrentz added 11 points and 12 rebounds.

In Detroit, Cliff Robinson scored 22 points in just three quarters as the Pistons rolled to a 99-82 victory over the New York Knicks.

Detroit, which has won six out of eight games, had a 25-point lead going into the fourth quarter and most of the team's starters stayed on the bench for the final session.

Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton both scored 16 points for Detroit while Corliss Williamson added 15. Kurt Thomas and Shandon Anderson scored 16 points apiece for the Knicks, who have lost six out of eight.

In Boston, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker both scored 31 points as the Celtics edged the Indiana Pacers 98-93.

Pierce had two key baskets in the fourth quarter after Boston blew a 14-point lead. Walker had 10 rebounds as the Celtics won their second game in a row.

Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Pacers, whose five-game winning streak was snapped. Al Harrington added 18 points and 14 rebounds.

In Philadelphia, Ray Allen scored 21 points, 17 in the second half, as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the 76ers 99-95.

Sam Cassell had 12 points for the Bucks, who have won five in a row to move within one game of .500 at 19-20. Tim Thomas and Toni Kukoc both added 11 points.

Keith Van Horn scored 22 points for the 76ers, who have lost seven of their last eight games. Eric Snow had 18 points while Allen Iverson and Brian Skinner both collected 17.

In East Rutherford, New Jersey, Jason Kidd scored 18 points to lead the Nets to an 88-77 win over the Toronto Raptors.

In New Orleans, David Wesley scored 34 points as the Hornets handed the Chicago Bulls their 18th consecutive road loss, 90-83.

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 27 points as the Spurs downed the Atlanta Hawks 106-93.

In Denver, Juwan Howard had 25 points and eight rebounds as the Nuggets blasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-80.