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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- UTAH 23 16 26 21 86 HOUSTON 27 39 26 17 109 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: UTH - DONYELL MARSHALL 17, KARL MALONE 15, TWO PLAYERS WITH 10 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 18, KENNY THOMAS 17, TWO PLAYERS WITH 15

HIGH REBOUND: UTH - DONYELL MARSHALL 8, GREG OSTERTAG 6 HOU - HAKEEM OLAJUWON 7, STEVE FRANCIS 6

HIGH ASSISTS: UTH - JOHN STOCKTON 6, JACQUE VAUGHN 5 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 9, MOOCHIE NORRIS 6

ATT: 13,095


Extended Box

UTAH (86) AT HOUSTON (109)

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

MALONE F 26 5-14 5-5 1 3 4 2 1 0 0 15 MARSHALL F 28 8-12 1-3 4 4 8 3 2 2 4 17 POLYNICE C 20 3-8 0-0 2 2 4 1 6 1 0 6 STARKS G 22 3-5 2-2 0 2 2 3 2 1 1 10 STOCKTON G 19 2-3 0-0 0 0 0 6 3 0 2 4 VAUGHN 26 4-13 0-2 1 2 3 5 1 2 1 10 OSTERTAG 25 0-4 0-0 3 3 6 1 5 1 1 0 RUSSELL 12 0-1 2-2 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 LEWIS 20 4-8 0-0 1 1 2 1 3 0 0 8 MANNING 13 3-6 2-2 0 1 1 0 3 0 3 8 CROTTY 12 1-5 0-0 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 2 PADGETT 17 1-3 2-2 1 2 3 2 2 0 0 4

TOTALS 240 34-82 14-18 13 23 36 25 30 7 12 86 (.415) (.778) TEAM REBS: 6 TOTAL TO: 12(10 PTS)

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

ANDERSON F 29 5-10 4-8 0 2 2 1 3 3 2 15 TAYLOR F 12 1-2 2-2 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 4 CATO C 25 3-4 4-5 0 3 3 0 0 0 1 10 FRANCIS G 35 8-14 2-2 1 5 6 9 2 2 0 18 MOBLEY G 29 3-9 3-3 0 4 4 4 3 1 3 11 NORRIS 24 1-1 0-0 0 2 2 6 3 1 2 2 THOMAS 30 7-9 1-1 1 2 3 2 0 0 1 17 OLAJUWON 21 3-8 5-6 1 6 7 1 2 0 1 11 WILLIAMS 20 4-7 4-6 0 5 5 1 0 0 0 15 BULLARD 8 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 LANGHI 7 0-1 3-4 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 ROGERS DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 36-67 28-37 3 32 35 25 16 8 10 109 (.537) (.757) TEAM REBS: 15 TOTAL TO: 11(8 PTS)

UTAH 23 16 26 21 - 86 HOUSTON 27 39 26 17 - 109

BLOCKED SHOTS: UTAH - POLYNICE. HOUSTON - CATO 2, WILLIAMS, FRANCIS. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: UTAH 4-8 (.500), STARKS 2-3, VAUGHN 2-4, CROTTY 0-1. HOUSTON 9-21 (.429), ANDERSON 1-3, FRANCIS 0-4, MOBLEY 2-5, THOMAS 2-2, WILLIAMS 3-6, BULLARD 1-1. TECHNICALS: UTAH - MALONE. OFFICIALS: ED F RUSH, GARY BENSON, RON OLESIAK. A - 13,095. T - 2:10.


Box Score

UTAH (86) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Malone 26 5-14 5-5 1-4 2 1 15 Marshall 28 8-12 1-3 4-8 3 2 17 Polynice 20 3-8 0-0 2-4 1 6 6 Starks 22 3-5 2-2 0-2 3 2 10 Stockton 19 2-3 0-0 0-0 6 3 4 Vaughn 26 4-13 0-2 1-3 5 1 10 Ostertag 25 0-4 0-0 3-6 1 5 0 Russell 12 0-1 2-2 0-1 0 1 2 Lewis 20 4-8 0-0 1-2 1 3 8 Manning 13 3-6 2-2 0-1 0 3 8 Crotty 12 1-5 0-0 0-2 1 1 2 Padgett 17 1-3 2-2 1-3 2 2 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 34-82 14-18 13-36 25 30 86 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.415, FT-.778. 3-Point Goals: 4-8, .500 (Starks 2-3, Vaughn 2-4, Crotty 0-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 1 (Polynice). Turnovers: 12 (Marshall 4, Manning 3, Stockton 2, Ostertag, Starks, Vaughn). Steals: 7 (Marshall 2, Vaughn 2, Ostertag, Polynice, Starks).

HOUSTON (109) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Anderson 29 5-10 4-8 0-2 1 3 15 Taylor 12 1-2 2-2 0-2 1 1 4 Cato 25 3-4 4-5 0-3 0 0 10 Francis 35 8-14 2-2 1-6 9 2 18 Mobley 29 3-9 3-3 0-4 4 3 11 Norris 24 1-1 0-0 0-2 6 3 2 Thomas 30 7-9 1-1 1-3 2 0 17 Olajuwon 21 3-8 5-6 1-7 1 2 11 Williams 20 4-7 4-6 0-5 1 0 15 Bullard 8 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 3 Langhi 7 0-1 3-4 0-1 0 0 3 Rogers DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 36-67 28-37 3-35 25 16 109 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.537, FT-.757. 3-Point Goals: 9-21, .429 (Anderson 1-3, Francis 0-4, Mobley 2-5, Thomas 2-2, Williams 3-6, Bullard 1-1). Team rebounds: 15. Blocked shots: 4 (Cato 2, Williams, Francis). Turnovers: 11 (Mobley 3, Anderson 2, Norris 2, Cato, Olajuwon, Thomas). Steals: 8 (Anderson 3, Francis 2, Langhi, Mobley, Norris). ____________________________________________ Utah 23 16 26 21 - 86 Houston 27 39 26 17 - 109 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Utah 1 (Malone, 9:02 1st). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 13,095. T: 2:10. Officials: Ed F Rush, Gary Benson, Ron Olesiak.


Game Story

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets knew they would get an emotional lift from Hakeem Olajuwon's return. But this was beyond their wildest expectations.

Playing like the team that won consecutive NBA titles during Olajuwon's prime in the mid-1990s, the inspired Rockets raced to a 27-point halftime lead and coasted to a 109-86 victory over the shellshocked Utah Jazz.

Just two weeks ago, Olajuwon's career appeared to be in jeopardy when doctors determined the discomfort in his left leg was due to a blood condition. He began taking a blood thinner and was expected to be sidelined three to six months.

But the future Hall of Famer returned Tuesday after missing only nine games and had 11 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench. The Rockets hope having Olajuwon back will boost their slim playoff hopes.

"I felt I was comfortable," Olajuwon said. "My conditioning was much better than I thought and conditioning is the key. Physically, I felt very strong. This was a good first game back -- to beat a quality team like Utah."

Olajuwon was 3-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line. He also had an assist.

"It was good to see him back healthy," Utah guard John Stockton said. "It certainly gave them a boost to have him out on the floor."

Tuesday's win snapped a three-game losing streak and pulled Houston within 3 1/2 games of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the battle for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

"It was great to have `Dream' back and sharp," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He's an amazing player and an amazing person."

"To me, it's comical the way they've tried to push him out here," said Utah forward Karl Malone, who scored 15 points. "He's won two championships and he's the all-time leading shot blocker. He still wants to play this game and I hope he keeps playing."

With Houston leading, 27-23, Olajuwon got a prolonged standing ovation when he started the second quarter, his first appearance of the game.

"The ovation was a pleasant surprise," Olajuwon said. "There's no question as to why I love Houston. I'm so grateful the fans received me so well."

"It gave me goose bumps and I'm sure it made him feel great," Tomjanovich said. "It was particularly amazing. He was so sharp after missing nine games. He's a pillar of strength and means so much to us."

The Rockets responded to the standing ovation by outscoring the Jazz, 39-16, to open a 66-39 halftime cushion. Houston could do no wrong in the period, making 15-of-19 shots.

Steve Francis scored 18 points and Kenny Thomas added 17 for the Rockets, who shot 61 percent (25-of-41) in the first half before finishing at 54 percent (36-of-87).

"I thought we were hitting on all cylinders tonight," Francis said. "Everybody played with a lot of intensity."

Donyell Marshall scored 27 points for the Jazz, who have dropped three of their last four. The 66 points allowed in the first half was a season high for Utah. The Rockets led by as many as 30 late in the third quarter.

"We wanted to win tonight but it looked to me like we packed it in," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "I was totally shocked there was not more energy. Houston played well and did everything they wanted to do."

The Jazz stayed close in the first quarter, taking their last lead, 18-17, on Marshall's layup with 4:12 to go. But the second quarter turned into a nightmare for Utah.

"Like coach told us today, until we're mathamatically eliminated, there's no fold in this team," Francis said.

Houston started the second quarter with a 13-2 spurt to go up 40-25 on Thomas' jumper with 8:53 remaining. After Marshall hit a jumper to made it 43-29, the Rockets reeled off 10 straight points to build 53-29 lead on Olajuwon's jumper with 5:22 left and effectively put away the game.

"Our offense was non-existent," Sloan said. "We're playing very selfish basketball right now. Everybody wants their own shot. We played 1-on-1 the whole second half and I hope we got it out of our system."

Utah dropped 2 1/2 games behind first-place San Antonio in the Midwest Division.

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