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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- HOUSTON 16 19 28 33 96 WASHINGTON 25 18 22 21 86 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 25, CUTTINO MOBLEY 17, HAKEEM OLAJUWON 15 WAS - LARON PROFIT 18, CHRISTIAN LAETTNER 16, COURTNEY ALEXANDER 16

HIGH REBOUND: HOU - HAKEEM OLAJUWON 11, MOOCHIE NORRIS 7 WAS - COURTNEY ALEXANDER 9, JAHIDI WHITE 9

HIGH ASSISTS: HOU - MOOCHIE NORRIS 9, STEVE FRANCIS 5 WAS - DAVID VANTERPOL 5, LARON PROFIT 4

ATT: 20,674


Extended Box

HOUSTON (96) AT WASHINGTON (86)

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

ANDERSON F 20 1-4 0-0 0 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 THOMAS F 28 3-8 4-5 3 2 5 0 3 1 5 10 OLAJUWON C 25 7-12 1-2 4 7 11 1 3 0 1 15 FRANCIS G 38 9-12 4-6 0 3 3 5 5 1 4 25 MOBLEY G 32 3-10 10-11 3 2 5 1 4 1 0 17 NORRIS 33 3-11 2-2 0 7 7 9 0 2 0 8 WILLIAMS 26 3-8 2-3 1 5 6 1 3 0 0 9 CATO 19 1-1 0-0 1 2 3 0 2 0 1 2 BULLARD 19 3-8 1-1 0 3 3 1 3 0 0 8 LANGHI DNP - COACH'S DECISION ROGERS DNP - COACH'S DECISION TAYLOR DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 33-74 24-30 12 32 44 19 25 7 13 96 (.446) (.800) TEAM REBS: 7 TOTAL TO: 13(16 PTS)

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

ALEXANDER F 43 5-20 6-7 2 7 9 2 1 1 0 16 LAETTNER F 35 5-11 6-6 2 4 6 1 4 1 1 16 J WHITE C 31 3-6 4-12 3 6 9 0 1 0 3 10 HAMILTON G 33 4-13 2-2 2 2 4 2 6 0 1 10 PROFIT G 45 8-17 0-0 4 4 8 4 4 7 2 18 P JONES 8 2-4 0-0 3 2 5 0 0 1 0 4 MICHAEL SMITH 15 0-0 2-4 2 3 5 1 3 0 0 2 VANTERPOL 28 3-9 2-6 2 1 3 5 2 0 4 8 MIKE SMITH 2 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 DAVIS DNP - SPRAINED RIGHT HAMSTRING RICHMOND DNP - STRAINED RIGHT KNEE VAUGHT DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 31-81 22-37 20 29 49 15 21 10 11 86 (.383) (.595) TEAM REBS: 12 TOTAL TO: 13(12 PTS)

HOUSTON 16 19 28 33 - 96 WASHINGTON 25 18 22 21 - 86

BLOCKED SHOTS: HOUSTON - CATO 5, OLAJUWON 3, WILLIAMS, MOBLEY, THOMAS. WASHINGTON - LAETTNER 4. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: HOUSTON 6-22 (.273), ANDERSON 0-2, THOMAS 0-2, FRANCIS 3-6, MOBLEY 1-3, NORRIS 0-1, WILLIAMS 1-4, BULLARD 1-4. WASHINGTON 2-7 (.286), ALEXANDER 0-2, PROFIT 2-5. TECHNICALS: WASHINGTON - ILLEGAL DEFENSE 2. OFFICIALS: RONNIE NUNN, SEAN CORBIN, DEE KANTNER. A - 20,674. T - 2:12.


Box Score

HOUSTON (96) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Anderson 20 1-4 0-0 0-1 1 2 2 Thomas 28 3-8 4-5 3-5 0 3 10 Olajuwon 25 7-12 1-2 4-11 1 3 15 Francis 38 9-12 4-6 0-3 5 5 25 Mobley 32 3-10 10-11 3-5 1 4 17 Norris 33 3-11 2-2 0-7 9 0 8 Williams 26 3-8 2-3 1-6 1 3 9 Cato 19 1-1 0-0 1-3 0 2 2 Bullard 19 3-8 1-1 0-3 1 3 8 Langhi DNP - coach's decision Rogers DNP - coach's decision Taylor DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 33-74 24-30 12-44 19 25 96 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.446, FT-.800. 3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (Anderson 0-2, Thomas 0-2, Francis 3-6, Mobley 1-3, Norris 0-1, Williams 1-4, Bullard 1-4). Team rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 11 (Cato 5, Olajuwon 3, Williams, Mobley, Thomas). Turnovers: 13 (Thomas 5, Francis 4, Anderson 2, Cato, Olajuwon). Steals: 7 (Anderson 2, Norris 2, Francis, Mobley, Thomas).

WASHINGTON (86) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Alexander 43 5-20 6-7 2-9 2 1 16 Laettner 35 5-11 6-6 2-6 1 4 16 J White 31 3-6 4-12 3-9 0 1 10 Hamilton 33 4-13 2-2 2-4 2 6 10 Profit 45 8-17 0-0 4-8 4 4 18 P Jones 8 2-4 0-0 3-5 0 0 4 Michael Smith 15 0-0 2-4 2-5 1 3 2 Vanterpol 28 3-9 2-6 2-3 5 2 8 Mike Smith 2 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 Davis DNP - sprained right hamstring Richmond DNP - strained right knee Vaught DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 31-81 22-37 20-49 15 21 86 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.383, FT-.595. 3-Point Goals: 2-7, .286 (Alexander 0-2, Profit 2-5). Team rebounds: 12. Blocked shots: 4 (Laettner 4). Turnovers: 13 (Vanterpol 4, J White 3, Profit 2, Hamilton, Laettner). Steals: 10 (Profit 7, Alexander, Laettner, P Jones). ____________________________________________ Houston 16 19 28 33 - 96 Washington 25 18 22 21 - 86 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Washington 2 (Illegal Defense 2, 3:46 1st, 6:13 4th). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 20,674. T: 2:12. Officials: Ronnie Nunn, Sean Corbin, Dee Kantner.


Game Story

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- It took the Houston Rockets three quarters to realize they are still in the playoff hunt.

After playing uninspired basketball through the first three periods, Houston exploded for 15 straight points in the fourth quarter and cruised to a 96-86 victory over the Washington Wizards.

The Rockets moved into a tie with Seattle, which trails Minnesota by 2 1/2 games for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

Houston trailed after each of the first three quarters and was down, 70-69, when Walt Williams nailed a 3-pointer with 9:16 remaining to spark the decisive run.

Matt Bullard, who scored six of his eight points during the run, followed with a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play with 5:20 left that extended Houston's lead to double digits for the first time.

Back-to-back layups by Moochie Norris and Cuttino Mobley gave the Rockets their biggest cushion, 84-70, and Washington never got closer than the final score.

"We had to come out (in the fourth quarter) with a sense of urgency because we are trying to make the playoffs," Mobley said. "You have to go out there and have the same focus that you would have on the top teams as the last teams."

Rookie David Vanterpool stopped the run with a pair of free throws with 3:44 remaining, ending a nearly six-minute scoreless stretch for Washington.

"Anytime you watch a game like that, you wonder what happened," Washington coach Leonard Hamilton said. "In the fourth quarter, we could not muster any productivity."

Mobley made only 3-of-10 shots but scored 10 of his 17 points from the line, where he was 10-of-11. Steve Francis scored 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting for Houston, which has won just two of its last five games.

"We have such a good opportunity of going to the playoffs, this game was real crucial for us," Francis said. "We needed this game."

Hakeem Olajuwon had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Kenny Thomas added 10 points for the Rockets, who completed a season sweep of the lowly Wizards.

Washington shot just 38 percent (31-of-81) from the floor and 59 percent (22-of-37) from the line.

"In reality, when you look at the game, we never really seemed to get out into our offensive flow," Hamilton said. "Even though we were ahead, we were not in sync on offense."

Wizards guard Laron Profit had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven steals. Christian Laettner added 16 points and eight rebounds and rookie Courtney Alexander chipped in 16 and nine for Washington.

Richard Hamilton, who scored a career-high 41 points in Thursday's win over Golden State, was held to 10 on 4-of-13 shooting before fouling out with just over two minutes to go.

In the first quarter, Houston shot just 29 percent (6-of-21) and saw the Wizards jump out to a 25-16 lead as they scored 10 points off five Rockets' turnovers.

"We're fighting for a playoff spot, so I don't know why we came out like that," Williams said. "We stepped it up in the second half and did what we needed to win the game, but we can't keep coming out sluggish like that."

Houston trailed, 43-35, at halftime but finally began to get back into the game in the third quarter.

Olajuwon netted nine points and Francis added seven in the third quarter, when the Rockets outscored Washington, 28-22, to close within two points heading into the final 12 mintues.

"We just picked it up in the second half," Francis said. "After halftime, coach really grilled us. I thought guys really looked at themselves and we took it upon ourselves to rally."

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