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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- DENVER 34 27 24 21 106 HOUSTON 21 16 27 33 97 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: DEN - NICK VAN EXEL 23, GEORGE MCCLOUD 17, TARIQ ABDUL-WAHAD 14 HOU - CUTTINO MOBLEY 24, SHANDON ANDERSON 14, TWO PLAYERS WITH 10

HIGH REBOUND: DEN - KEON CLARK 11, CHRIS GATLING 8 HOU - CARLOS ROGERS 8, SHANDON ANDERSON 7

HIGH ASSISTS: DEN - NICK VAN EXEL 11, BRYANT STITH 5 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 4, BRYCE DREW 4

ATT: 14,560


Extended Box

DENVER (106) AT HOUSTON (97)

DENVER REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

MCDYESS F 25 4-10 1-2 2 3 5 0 4 1 0 9 POSEY F 18 1-4 1-2 0 3 3 0 3 1 2 3 LAFRENTZ C 9 1-5 0-0 2 2 4 0 3 1 0 2 ABDUL-WAHAD G 26 5-12 4-6 3 3 6 1 1 0 1 14 VAN EXEL G 42 9-22 4-4 0 1 1 11 0 2 5 23 CLARK 31 2-5 2-2 6 5 11 2 2 1 2 6 MCCLOUD 32 6-7 3-3 0 1 1 1 3 3 1 17 STITH 23 5-10 2-2 1 2 3 5 3 1 2 12 GATLING 23 5-10 3-3 2 6 8 2 1 3 0 13 JONES 5 2-3 1-1 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 5 ALEXANDER 3 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 ROGERS 3 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0

TOTALS 240 41-91 21-25 17 28 45 22 21 13 13 106 (.451) (.840) TEAM REBS: 9 TOTAL TO: 13(16 PTS)

HOUSTON REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

THOMAS F 28 4-13 1-2 2 1 3 3 4 1 3 9 WILLIAMS F 27 4-11 2-2 1 3 4 0 1 1 1 10 OLAJUWON C 23 3-7 4-5 3 3 6 1 2 0 1 10 ANDERSON G 33 7-11 0-1 1 6 7 2 1 2 2 14 FRANCIS G 24 0-6 0-0 2 2 4 4 3 1 6 0 DREW 24 2-9 2-2 0 2 2 4 2 0 1 6 ROGERS 25 4-4 1-1 3 5 8 2 2 0 1 9 MOBLEY 24 9-12 3-3 0 3 3 0 2 0 3 24 BULLARD 14 1-5 0-0 1 0 1 1 2 0 1 3 GRAY 6 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 NORRIS 6 3-4 1-2 1 1 2 1 0 1 0 8 MILLER 6 1-1 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 2

TOTALS 240 39-85 14-18 15 27 42 18 20 7 19 97 (.459) (.778) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 19(24 PTS)

DENVER 34 27 24 21 - 106 HOUSTON 21 16 27 33 - 97

BLOCKED SHOTS: DENVER - CLARK 2, ABDUL-WAHAD 2, POSEY. HOUSTON - ROGERS 2, THOMAS, OLAJUWON, BULLARD. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: DENVER 3-15 (.200), POSEY 0-2, LAFRENTZ 0-1, VAN EXEL 1-4, MCCLOUD 2-3, STITH 0-3, GATLING 0-2. HOUSTON 5-17 (.294), THOMAS 0-4, WILLIAMS 0-3, ANDERSON 0-1, FRANCIS 0-2, DREW 0-1, MOBLEY 3-3, BULLARD 1-2, NORRIS 1-1. TECHNICALS: DENVER - ILLEGAL DEFENSE, HOUSTON - DELAY OF GAME 2, THOMAS. OFFICIALS: LUIS GRILLO, JIM CLARK, MIKE SMITH. A - 14,560. T - 2:06.


Box Score

DENVER (106) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Mcdyess 25 4-10 1-2 2-5 0 4 9 Posey 18 1-4 1-2 0-3 0 3 3 Lafrentz 9 1-5 0-0 2-4 0 3 2 Abdul-wahad 26 5-12 4-6 3-6 1 1 14 Van Exel 42 9-22 4-4 0-1 11 0 23 Clark 31 2-5 2-2 6-11 2 2 6 Mccloud 32 6-7 3-3 0-1 1 3 17 Stith 23 5-10 2-2 1-3 5 3 12 Gatling 23 5-10 3-3 2-8 2 1 13 Jones 5 2-3 1-1 1-2 0 0 5 Alexander 3 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 Rogers 3 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 1 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 41-91 21-25 17-45 22 21 106 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.451, FT-.840. 3-Point Goals: 3-15, .200 (Posey 0-2, Lafrentz 0-1, Van Exel 1-4, Mccloud 2-3, Stith 0-3, Gatling 0-2). Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 5 (Clark 2, Abdul-wahad 2, Posey). Turnovers: 13 (Van Exel 5, Clark 2, Posey 2, Stith 2, Abdul-wahad, Mccloud). Steals: 13 (Gatling 3, Mccloud 3, Van Exel 2, Clark, Lafrentz, Mcdyess, Posey, Stith).

HOUSTON (97) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Thomas 28 4-13 1-2 2-3 3 4 9 Williams 27 4-11 2-2 1-4 0 1 10 Olajuwon 23 3-7 4-5 3-6 1 2 10 Anderson 33 7-11 0-1 1-7 2 1 14 Francis 24 0-6 0-0 2-4 4 3 0 Drew 24 2-9 2-2 0-2 4 2 6 Rogers 25 4-4 1-1 3-8 2 2 9 Mobley 24 9-12 3-3 0-3 0 2 24 Bullard 14 1-5 0-0 1-1 1 2 3 Gray 6 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 2 Norris 6 3-4 1-2 1-2 1 0 8 Miller 6 1-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 39-85 14-18 15-42 18 20 97 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.459, FT-.778. 3-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (Thomas 0-4, Williams 0-3, Anderson 0-1, Francis 0-2, Drew 0-1, Mobley 3-3, Bullard 1-2, Norris 1-1). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 5 (Rogers 2, Thomas, Olajuwon, Bullard). Turnovers: 19 (Francis 6, Mobley 3, Thomas 3, Anderson 2, Bullard, Drew, Olajuwon, Rogers, Williams). Steals: 7 (Anderson 2, Francis, Miller, Norris, Thomas, Williams). ____________________________________________ Denver 34 27 24 21 - 106 Houston 21 16 27 33 - 97 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Denver 1 (Illegal Defense, 4:52 2nd). Houston 3 (Delay Of Game 2, 0:09 1st, 3:29 3rd; Thomas, 3:29 3rd). Flagrant fouls: Houston 1 (Francis (ejected), 3:09 3rd). A: 14,560. T: 2:06. Officials: Luis Grillo, Jim Clark, Mike Smith.


Game Story

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Nick Van Exel scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half as the Denver Nuggets opened a huge halftime lead and coasted to a 106-97 triumph over the Houston Rockets.

Van Exel was 9-of-17 from the field with six assists in the opening 24 minutes as the Nuggets built a 61-37 halftime bulge. He thoroughly outplayed Rockets rookie guard Steve Francis, who was scoreless before being ejected in the third quarter.

"Nick was terrific tonight," Nuggets coach Dan Issel said. "He played well offensively and that helped get Francis into foul trouble. When Nick plays that well, we are a very good basketball team."

"Tonight, we got some defensive stops," Van Exel said. "That always helps us get the game up-tempo. We played good defense and we pushed the ball after their misses."

The win snapped Denver's six-game losing streak in Houston and was its third in four games overall. The Nuggets remained 5 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

George McCloud scored 17 points and Tariq Abdul-Wahad added 14 as the Nuggets won for just the sixth time in 25 road games.

Cuttino Mobley scored 24 points and Shandon Anderson added 14 for the Rockets, who saw Francis ejected for a flagrant foul with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

Houston had dropped four straight games and six of eight. Following the contest, the Rockets announced they have agreed to a four-year contract extension through the 2005 with coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

"It's not signed yet, but we have an agreement that I will be here for another four years," Tomjanovich said. "I love this team, even after tonight."

The Rockets led 13-12 with 5:49 left in the first quarter when Van Exel buried a running jumper to ignite a 13-2 spurt.

Abdul-Wahad had a tip-in and two free throws around a layup by rookie James Posey. A free throw by Posey with 3:53 to go pushed the lead to 21-13 before Shandon Anderson had a layup for Houston 31 seconds later.

Abdul-Wahad's driving layup with 3:14 to go extended the lead to 23-15 before Van Exel capped the burst with an 18-footer from the left wing.

Houston got back within 26-19 with 2:03 to go but the Nuggets scored eight of the final 10 points in the quarter to open a 13-point advantage.

The Rockets' last stand came just over two minutes into the second quarter. Mobley had a free throw to cut the deficit to 36-27 but Denver reeled off the next 17 points.

Bryant Stith scored six points, McCloud four and Van Exel three as the Nuggets opened a 53-27 lead with 5:05 left in the half.

"The problem was we couldn't stop those guys defensively," said Anderson. "They were able to get some easy baskets on breaks, and Van Exel shot the ball really well."

With the second half mostly garbage time, Francis was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul on Abdul-Wahad and ejected with 3:09 left in the third quarter. After the game, Francis revealed that he chipped a tooth during the play and needed stitches.

"It was a tough judgment call," Tomjanovich added. "It looked like he made an attempt to block the shot and his momentum carried him into the player. I'm glad Tariq wasn't hurt and it looked like Steve got the worst end of the play."

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