But Chris Webber came through in the clutch, and that’s what mattered most.
Trailing 103-100 with 1.3 seconds left in regulation, Webber came out way beyond the arc for the inbounds pass and hit an awkward 3-pointer over McGrady to tie it.
McGrady was supposed to foul Webber as soon as he got the ball, forcing him to go to the free-throw line. But Webber deftly faked a handoff to Bibby, causing McGrady to hesitate for a brief moment, and then he rose up for the biggest shot of this high-scoring thriller.
“I went straight up for the shot,” Webber said. “It felt good.”
And it was.
“I was just praying,” McGrady said. “But when I turned around, I knew it was going in.”
McGrady missed a desperation jumper at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
From there, the Kings relied on a cast of characters to wear down the Rockets—including a familiar one to Houston fans.
Cuttino Mobley, playing in Houston for the first time since being traded to Orlando last summer, hit back-to-back 3s for the Kings to put them ahead to stay in the extra period. Webber then hit a jumper with 1:26 left, extending Sacramento’s lead to 111-108.
Mobley came up with a big offensive rebound on the next possession, and Bibby knocked down another shot to put the Kings up by five. Bibby and Mobley each hit two free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Mobley finished with 24 points in his triumphant homecoming and Brad Miller had 19 points and 14 rebounds, helping the Kings overcome the absence of Stojakovic. The All-Star forward sat out because of back spasms—he also missed a 90-80 loss at San Antonio the night before.
“My teammates are unbelievable,” said Mobley, wearing a satisfied smile after beating the team that drafted him in the second round in 1998. “We have a lot of guys that can score. It’s a win and that is what I wanted.”
McGrady had 30 points and 12 assists, and Scott Padgett scored a career-high 22 on 8-of-9 shooting for the Rockets, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Padgett nearly came up with a little more late magic for Houston, just one game after his 3 clinched a win over New Orleans on Wednesday. The backup forward also hit the game-winning shot at New York last week.
He hit a 3 to break a 98-all tie with just more than two minutes left and nailed another jumper from the corner with 44.5 seconds to go, pushing the Rockets’ lead back to three points.
“I’m going to be honest with you—I’m not going to create too many shots on my own,” Padgett said. “Tracy’s greatness was the big reason because of it. If I’m on the other team, I would rather have me shoot it than Tracy.”
Webber said, “I asked him, ‘Would you please stop it!”’
But Webber answered with a 27-foot jumper just before the buzzer, silencing the sellout crowd of 18,191. He wagged his finger at McGrady, then took an exaggerated backpedal down the floor for a few chest bumps with his teammates.
He continued to come up big in the extra session.
Padgett hit a 3-pointer to open overtime—his eighth basket in eight attempts—but Webber found Mobley wide open for another 3 to tie the game.
Mobley made another 3, Padgett finally missed and Webber hit a 20-foot jumper to put the Kings up by three. Webber later stole the ball from the Rockets in the closing seconds to close out the victory.
Meanwhile, the Rockets got little help from their All-Star big man.
Yao Ming made Houston’s first two baskets, then went scoreless for nearly 32 minutes until a putback dunk with 2:08 left in the third. He finished with 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting, nine rebounds and four turnovers.
Mobley, who played in Houston for six seasons before being traded, got a hearty greeting from Rockets fans during pregame introductions. He responded with his highest point total since joining the Kings eight games ago on Jan. 15. “Cat is on cloud nine. He is so happy,” Webber said. … Webber closed the third quarter by driving at Yao, then somehow flipped the ball up under the 7-foot-6 center’s arm seconds before the end of the period. … The Rockets allowed a season-high 117 points. … Bibby got his fifth double-double of the season. … McGrady set a season high for assists.