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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- BOSTON 24 27 20 25 96 HOUSTON 19 26 28 32 105 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: BOS - RON MERCER 31, ANTOINE WALKER 23, DANA BARROS 12 HOU - HAKEEM OLAJUWON 33, CLYDE DREXLER 20, MARIO ELIE 11


BOSTON (96) AT HOUSTON (105)

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

WALKER F 41 8-24 4-6 2 6 8 0 5 0 2 23 MCCARTY F 28 1-9 1-2 1 4 5 4 2 0 1 3 DECLERCQ C 34 4-6 1-2 5 4 9 5 4 5 2 9 MERCER G 42 12-24 7-8 3 1 4 3 4 6 0 31 ANDERSON G 17 1-4 1-1 0 1 1 4 3 0 1 3 BARROS 28 6-14 0-0 1 1 2 4 1 0 2 12 KNIGHT 12 1-3 0-0 1 1 2 0 3 2 0 2 BOWEN 20 4-6 0-0 1 1 2 2 4 0 0 9 TABAK 5 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 MINOR 10 1-3 0-0 1 3 4 0 0 0 0 2 EDNEY 3 1-3 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 D JONES DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 39-96 14-19 15 23 38 23 26 13 8 96 (.406) (.737) TEAM REBS: 14 TOTAL TO: 8(6 PTS)

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

ELIE F 33 3-4 4-4 0 4 4 2 2 0 3 11 WILLIS F 26 3-9 4-7 5 7 12 1 3 0 3 10 OLAJUWON C 36 15-20 3-3 3 4 7 1 2 1 2 33 DREXLER G 37 6-17 6-9 1 2 3 5 4 3 2 20 MALONEY G 34 4-8 0-0 1 0 1 4 1 0 1 10 BARKLEY 32 4-7 2-2 4 8 12 0 2 0 2 10 PRICE 14 0-4 0-0 0 2 2 3 2 0 3 0 JOHNSON 6 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 BULLARD 20 3-6 0-0 2 3 5 4 1 0 1 7 HARRINGTON 2 1-1 2-2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 DAVIS DNP - COACH'S DECISION RHODES DNP - COACH'S DECISION

TOTALS 240 39-77 21-27 16 30 46 21 17 4 18 105 (.506) (.778) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 18(24 PTS)

BOSTON 24 27 20 25 - 96 HOUSTON 19 26 28 32 - 105

BLOCKED SHOTS: BOSTON - DECLERCQ, KNIGHT. HOUSTON - WILLIS 3, OLAJUWON 2, DREXLER, BARKLEY, JOHNSON. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: BOSTON 4-13 (.308), WALKER 3-6, MCCARTY 0-2, BARROS 0-4, BOWEN 1-1. HOUSTON 6-22 (.273), ELIE 1-1, DREXLER 2-8, MALONEY 2-5, BARKLEY 0-1, PRICE 0-3, BULLARD 1-4. TECHNICALS: HOUSTON - WILLIS. OFFICIALS: BILL OAKES, SCOTT FOSTER, VIOLET PALMER. A - 16,285. T - 2:05.


BOSTON (96) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Walker 41 8-24 4-6 2-8 0 5 23 Mccarty 28 1-9 1-2 1-5 4 2 3 Declercq 34 4-6 1-2 5-9 5 4 9 Mercer 42 12-24 7-8 3-4 3 4 31 Anderson 17 1-4 1-1 0-1 4 3 3 Barros 28 6-14 0-0 1-2 4 1 12 Knight 12 1-3 0-0 1-2 0 3 2 Bowen 20 4-6 0-0 1-2 2 4 9 Tabak 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Minor 10 1-3 0-0 1-4 0 0 2 Edney 3 1-3 0-0 0-1 1 0 2 D Jones DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 39-96 14-19 15-38 23 26 96 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.406, FT-.737. 3-Point Goals: 4-13, .308 (Walker 3-6, Mccarty 0-2, Barros 0-4, Bowen 1-1). Team rebounds: 14. Blocked shots: 2 (Declercq, Knight). Turnovers: 8 (Barros 2, Declercq 2, Walker 2, Anderson, Mccarty). Steals: 13 (Mercer 6, Declercq 5, Knight 2).

HOUSTON (105) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Elie 33 3-4 4-4 0-4 2 2 11 Willis 26 3-9 4-7 5-12 1 3 10 Olajuwon 36 15-20 3-3 3-7 1 2 33 Drexler 37 6-17 6-9 1-3 5 4 20 Maloney 34 4-8 0-0 1-1 4 1 10 Barkley 32 4-7 2-2 4-12 0 2 10 Price 14 0-4 0-0 0-2 3 2 0 Johnson 6 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 Bullard 20 3-6 0-0 2-5 4 1 7 Harrington 2 1-1 2-2 0-0 0 0 4 Davis DNP - coach's decision Rhodes DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 39-77 21-27 16-46 21 17 105 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.506, FT-.778. 3-Point Goals: 6-22, .273 (Elie 1-1, Drexler 2-8, Maloney 2-5, Barkley 0-1, Price 0-3, Bullard 1-4). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 8 (Willis 3, Olajuwon 2, Drexler, Barkley, Johnson). Turnovers: 18 (Elie 3, Price 3, Willis 3, Barkley 2, Drexler 2, Olajuwon 2, Bullard, Johnson, Maloney). Steals: 4 (Drexler 3, Olajuwon). ____________________________________________ Boston 24 27 20 25 - 96 Houston 19 26 28 32 - 105 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Houston 1 (Willis, 7:43 1st). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 16,285. T: 2:05. Officials: Bill Oakes, Scott Foster, Violet Palmer.


GAME RECAP

Hot-shooting Hakeem Olajuwon overcame back spasms to score 15 of his season-high 33 points in the fourth quarter, lifting the Houston Rockets to their fifth consecutive victory, 105-96 over the struggling Boston Celtics.

Olajuwon, who scored 12 points after playing the entire first quarter, was slowed by spasms in his lower back in the second period and was limited to one basket in five minutes. After a massage and ice treatment at the half, Olajuwon's back improved and he scored 19 points in 19 minutes in the second half.

"I was just trying to get my back loose (at halftime) because it was tense and spasming," Olajuwon said. "There was nothing special that we did, we just got it loose. Once we did, I noticed a difference in my movement.

"I think I am starting to see the benefits of the knee surgery," added Olajuwon, who missed 33 games after undergoing surgery on November 24th. "I am now elevating much better and that is the key to all of my moves. I am now moving without pain and that is exciting for me."

Clyde Drexler added 20 points for the Rockets in his first game since officially announcing that he would retire at the end of the season to take over as coach at his alma mater, the University of Houston.

Charles Barkley and Kevin Willis grabbed 12 rebounds apiece for Houston (35-31), which is four games over .500 for the first time since January 6th.

The Rockets shot 51 percent (39-for-77) from the field -- including 15-of-20 from Olajuwon -- while holding Boston to 41 percent (39-for-96). Houston also outrebounded the Celtics, 46-38, and outscored them in the paint, 56-36.

"This was a game that I was very concerned about because of their high energy," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "I was very happy with the way that we handled their pressure. I believe on their last 11 presses, we scored on nine of them. Olajuwon was a pillar of strength offensively. He got his jump hook going again and that was great to see."

Ron Mercer had career highs of 31 points and six steals while Antoine Walker added 23 points for the Celtics, who dropped their season-high sixth consecutive game and fifth straight on the road. Andrew DeClercq added five steals and nine rebounds for Boston, which has had three losing streaks of five games or more this season.

"It (scoring) doesn't mean anything if you don't win the game," Mercer said. "I'd rather have a win any day. I picked out some weaknesses in their defesne from the last game we played against them and I tried to go to the hole more and get to the line. I also tried to be more active defensively with my hands."

Mercer's 17 points helped the Celtics to a 51-45 lead at the half, but the Rockets scored the last nine points of the third quarter to grab a 73-71 lead. Mario Elie, who had four points during the spurt, started it with a dunk before a three-pointer by Drexler capped it with 15 seconds left, giving Houston the lead.

After a layup by Elie tied the game with 6:22 to play, the Rockets outscored the Celtics 22-13 the rest of the way. A dunk by Olajuwon on Houston's next possession gave the Rockets the lead for good, 85-83.

A three-point play by Olajuwon increased the Rockets' lead to 90-85 with 4:12 left, but Boston scratched back and cut the deficit to 94-92 at the 1:51 mark after Walker drained a three-pointer.

Olajuwon followed with a hook to make it 96-92, and on Houston's next possession Drexler was fouled by Walker on a three-point attempt. He hit all three free throws with 51 seconds left to stretch the Rockets' lead to 99-92.

"Olajuwon's a wonderful player that I hate coaching against," Boston coach Rick Pitino said. "Houston is coming on at the right time. I don't like to lose but I'm as proud of this team as I have been all year. We'll win some games down the stretch with the effort we showed tonight."

Houston improved to 9-0 when using the starting lineup of Elie, Willis, Olajuwon, Drexler and Matt Maloney.

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