2. March 23rd, 2003 vs. Sacramento Kings
By the time the 2002-03 season arrived, Steve Francis had already played three seasons with the Houston Rockets, which was longer than he needed to become a star in the league. Francis won Rookie of the Year during the 1999-00 season, and was voted to the All-Star team during the 2001-02 season, although the Rockets went 28-54 during that season.
The Rockets didn’t make the postseason in any of Francis’ first three years in the league, in spite of a 45-37 record during the 2000-01 season, which can be attributed to the dominance of the Western Conference. The Rockets would also miss it during the 2002-03 season, despite having a winning record of 43-39.
During Francis’ fourth season, he made the All-Star team for the second consecutive season, and he would also make another All-Star team during the 2003-04 season. Francis had many stellar performances throughout his career, and especially in 2002-03, but one of his best games that season happened to fall on March 23rd, 2003.
The Rockets squared off against the Sacramento Kings, who had a record of 50-21, and Francis helped the Rockets take Sacramento down to the wire, as the Kings simply couldn’t stop him. Francis finished with 38 points, which was a game high, and he was the only Rockets player to score at least 20 points that day.
Francis had an incredibly efficient night, as he only needed 22 shots to get 38 points, which gave him a true shooting percentage of 75.8 percent, which was a team-high. All in all, Francis went 14-of-22 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range.
To the latter point, Francis made the most 3-pointers in the game, which is saying alot considering how the Kings had Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, and Jim Jackson, who all made at least 38.2 percent of their triples that season.
Francis also added nine assists and five rebounds, and hit a clutch 3-pointer to trim the Rockets’ deficit to one point with six seconds left. With the Rockets down one point on their final possession, Francis had a chance to win the game, but ultimately missed a trey at the buzzer, as the Rockets were defeated 109-108 in Sacramento.
Next: No. 1