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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- HOUSTON 23 23 20 30 96 MINNESOTA 24 17 31 23 95 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 21, CUTTINO MOBLEY 20, KENNY THOMAS 14 MIN - CHAUNCEY BILLUPS 23, WALLY SZCZERBIAK 18, KEVIN GARNETT 17

HIGH REBOUND: HOU - KENNY THOMAS 8, STEVE FRANCIS 6, WALT WILLIAMS 5 MIN - KEVIN GARNETT 15, JOE SMITH 6, CHAUNCEY BILLUPS 5

HIGH ASSISTS: HOU - MOOCHIE NORRIS 6, STEVE FRANCIS 6, KENNY THOMAS 3 MIN - CHAUNCEY BILLUPS 7, WALLY SZCZERBIAK 4, KEVIN GARNETT 3

ATT: 18,101


Extended Box

HOUSTON (96) AT MINNESOTA (95)

HOUSTON

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

W WILLIAMS F 30 4-7 0-2 2 3 5 2 5 0 3 9 K THOMAS F 36 3-10 8-11 0 8 8 3 0 3 1 14 K CATO C 19 3-4 0-0 1 2 3 0 1 0 1 6 C MOBLEY G 39 9-15 0-0 1 1 2 0 1 1 4 20 S FRANCIS G 38 7-19 7-8 0 6 6 6 3 0 2 21 E GRIFFIN 32 4-13 1-2 1 3 4 1 5 0 0 12 T MORRIS 22 4-6 0-0 0 2 2 2 3 1 0 8 M NORRIS 24 3-8 0-0 1 2 3 6 1 1 1 6 J COLLIER DNP - COACH'S DECISION D LANGHI DNP - COACH'S DECISION T BROWN DNP - COACH'S DECISION O TORRES DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 37-82 16-23 6 27 33 20 19 6 12 96 (.451) (.696) TEAM REBS: 15 TOTAL TO: 12 (14 PTS)

MINNESOTA

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

K GARNETT F 39 7-18 3-6 3 12 15 3 4 1 6 17 G TRENT F 20 4-6 0-0 0 2 2 1 2 1 1 8 R NESTEROVIC C 13 2-6 0-0 2 1 3 0 3 1 0 4 W SZCZERBIAK G 42 6-15 4-4 0 3 3 4 0 0 1 18 C BILLUPS G 39 7-14 8-9 0 5 5 7 2 0 1 23 M JACKSON 2 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 3 0 J SMITH 30 2-3 6-6 1 5 6 2 4 0 1 10 A PEELER 17 3-5 0-0 0 1 1 1 3 0 1 7 W AVERY 9 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 L WOODS 8 1-1 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 S MITCHELL 15 1-3 2-2 0 3 3 1 2 0 1 4 F LOPEZ 6 0-0 0-2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0

TOTALS 240 34-73 23-29 7 34 41 21 22 3 17 95 (.466) (.793) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 18 (20 PTS)

HOUSTON 23 23 20 30 - 96 MINNESOTA 24 17 31 23 - 95

BLOCKED SHOTS: HOUSTON - K THOMAS 3, E GRIFFIN 2, C MOBLEY, T MORRIS, S FRANCIS. MINNESOTA - G TRENT. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: HOUSTON 6-22 (.273), W WILLIAMS 1-3, C MOBLEY 2- 2, S FRANCIS 0-6, E GRIFFIN 3-10, M NORRIS 0-1. MINNESOTA 4-9 (.444), W SZCZERBIAK 2-5, C BILLUPS 1-3, A PEELER 1-1. TECHNICAL FOULS: HOUSTON - COACH TOMJANOVICH, S FRANCIS. MINNESOTA - DEFENSIVE THREE, G TRENT 2 (EJECTED). FLAGRANT FOULS: MINNESOTA 1 (G TRENT, 10:21 3RD). HOUSTON 1 (K CATO, 7:35 3RD). OFFICIALS: JIM CLARK, MIKE CALLAHAN, PHIL ROBINSON. A - 18,101. T - 2:21.


Box Score

HOUSTON (96)

fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp W Williams 30 4-7 0-2 2-5 2 5 9 K Thomas 36 3-10 8-11 0-8 3 0 14 K Cato 19 3-4 0-0 1-3 0 1 6 C Mobley 39 9-15 0-0 1-2 0 1 20 S Francis 38 7-19 7-8 0-6 6 3 21 E Griffin 32 4-13 1-2 1-4 1 5 12 T Morris 22 4-6 0-0 0-2 2 3 8 M Norris 24 3-8 0-0 1-3 6 1 6 J Collier DNP - COACH'S DECISION D Langhi DNP - COACH'S DECISION T Brown DNP - COACH'S DECISION O Torres DNP - COACH'S DECISION

_____________________________________________________ TOTALS 240 37-82 16-23 6-33 20 19 96 _____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.451, FT-.696. 3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (W Williams 1-3, C Mobley 2-2, S Francis 0-6, E Griffin 3-10, M Norris 0-1). Team Rebounds: 15. Blocked Shots:8 (K Thomas 3, E Griffin 2, C Mobley, T Morris, S Francis). Turnovers:12 (C Mobley 4, W Williams 3, S Francis 2, M Norris, K Cato, K Thomas). Steals: 6 (K Thomas 3, M Norris, T Morris, C Mobley).

MINNESOTA (95)

fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp K Garnett 39 7-18 3-6 3-15 3 4 17 G Trent 20 4-6 0-0 0-2 1 2 8 R Nesterovic 13 2-6 0-0 2-3 0 3 4 W Szczerbiak 42 6-15 4-4 0-3 4 0 18 C Billups 39 7-14 8-9 0-5 7 2 23 M Jackson 2 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 1 0 J Smith 30 2-3 6-6 1-6 2 4 10 A Peeler 17 3-5 0-0 0-1 1 3 7 W Avery 9 1-2 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 L Woods 8 1-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 2 S Mitchell 15 1-3 2-2 0-3 1 2 4 F Lopez 6 0-0 0-2 0-0 0 1 0

_____________________________________________________ TOTALS 240 34-73 23-29 7-41 21 22 95 _____________________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.466, FT-.793. 3-Point Goals: 4-9, .444 (W Szczerbiak 2-5, C Billups 1-3, A Peeler 1-1). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocked Shots:1 (G Trent). Turnovers:17 (K Garnett 6, M Jackson 3, G Trent, J Smith, C Billups, L Woods, W Szczerbiak, F Lopez, S Mitchell, A Peeler). Steals: 3 (G Trent, K Garnett, R Nesterovic).

------------------------------------------- HOUSTON 23 23 20 30 - 96 MINNESOTA 24 17 31 23 - 95 -------------------------------------------

Technical fouls: Houston - 2 (COACH Tomjanovich, 0:05 4th; S Francis, 1:02 4th). Minnesota - (Defensive Three, 8:13 1st; G Trent 2 (ejected), 10:21 3rd). Flagrant fouls: Minnesota 1 (G Trent, 10:21 3rd). Houston 1 (K Cato, 7:35 3r). A: 18,101. T: 2:21. Officials: Jim Clark, Mike Callahan, Phil Robinson.


Game Story

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Houston Rockets aren't going to the playoffs, but their ability make clutch plays in the fourth quarter against playoff contenders is making things interesting in the Western Conference.

Steve Francis scored five of his 21 points in a decisive run as the Rockets rallied for a 96-95 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who lost their season-high fifth consecutive game.

On Sunday, Francis drilled a 3-pointer in the final moments to give Houston a victory over eighth-place Utah. Two nights later, Cuttino Mobley rallied the Rockets in a win over seventh-place Seattle.

Against the Timberwolves, the Rockets trailed, 88-77, midway through the final period. But they went on a 19-7 run and tied it, 95-95, with 44 seconds left on a jump shot by rookie Eddie Griffin and went ahead for good a foul shot by Francis with nine seconds remaining.

"This was a big-time character win for us," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "It looked like we were dead in the water. That's happened three times in row. We've had deficits in the fourth quarter, hung in there and made great plays at both ends.

"It's tough playing in that situation. All the pressure is on them. They have stuff to lose. We're the underdog."

The run started with a driving layup by Francis with 5:30 left. Mobley, who scored 20 points, hit two running jumpers to get the Rockets within 91-84 with 3:59 left.

The game turned when Chauncey Billups missed a technical foul shot and Joe Smith's inbounds pass after Francis' layup was stolen by Kenny Thomas.

After Francis made a layup to make it 95-90 with 1:02 left, Thomas intercepted Smith's inbounds pass and converted two foul shots.

Francis was whistled for the technical for arguing and said the call motivated him.

"I think this is the first time ever in my career where a technical foul really motivated me to come back and play harder," Francis said. "That really changed the tempo of the game."

"Defense was the key to everything, because we got down," Thomas added. "We were scoring but we weren't playing defense. Defense is pretty much the whole thing with us."

Minnesota had another chance, but Anthony Peeler threw a pass into the backcourt for a violation.

"You had to be here, to see it, to believe it," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "Basically, it's Murphy's Law. You almost got to do everything wrong in order for them to come back and win, which we did.

"We're in rut right now. That's what it is."

Billups led the Wolves with 23 points, while Kevin Garnett added 17. But Garnett had six of Minnesota's 18 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the Rockets.

"The last couple of games, I've been playing poorly," Garnett said.

"I have to get back to basics, watch film, take my time to understand where the defenses are coming from. I've been turning the ball over six to eight times a game. The team goes like I do. My game has been just lousy now."

"We usually don't turn the ball over a lot," Billups added. "During this stretch we've been going through that's the one thing we have done. A lot of times, they are unforced turnovers. We're not playing with a sense of urgency like we normally do."

The Timberwolves started out flat, trailing 46-41 at halftime. But shortly thereafter, forward Gary Trent was ejected for arguing a flagrant foul and that seemed to get them going.

Trent, normally a reserve, started in place of Joe Smith in an attempt by Saunders to shake up the lineup. As he left the floor, he picked up a notebook from the scorers' table and threw it on the court.

Billups responded to Trent's ejection with a three-point play, a jumper, two foul shots and a 3-pointer that gave the Wolves a 54-53 lead with 7:28 left in the third quarter.

"In the third quarter, I just wanted to be as aggressive and take the ball to the hole," Billups said. "I was hoping everybody would feed off me and they did."

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