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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- HOUSTON 35 25 30 31 121 DALLAS 22 20 40 29 111 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 31, KENNY THOMAS 20, TWO PLAYERS WITH 17 DAL - CEDRIC CEBALLOS 39, MICHAEL FINLEY 31, TWO PLAYERS WITH 10

HIGH REBOUND: HOU - KENNY THOMAS 12, SHANDON ANDERSON 8 DAL - CEDRIC CEBALLOS 9, ERICK STRICKLAND 8

HIGH ASSISTS: HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 11, SHANDON ANDERSON 6 DAL - ERICK STRICKLAND 7, DAMON JONES 5

ATT: 15,080


Extended Box

HOUSTON (121) AT DALLAS (111)

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

BULLARD F 22 4-6 2-2 0 1 1 1 5 0 2 12 WILLIAMS F 18 7-10 1-1 1 4 5 1 4 0 1 17 MILLER C 14 2-3 0-0 0 3 3 0 3 0 2 4 ANDERSON G 34 3-8 3-5 2 6 8 6 1 3 3 10 FRANCIS G 42 8-16 14-15 3 3 6 11 4 2 7 31 THOMAS 35 6-12 8-10 2 10 12 1 4 1 2 20 GRAY 5 1-2 0-1 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 2 OLAJUWON 14 0-4 0-0 0 7 7 1 2 0 1 0 MOBLEY 30 7-13 3-5 0 1 1 1 0 2 1 17 DREW 26 3-8 0-0 0 3 3 4 2 0 1 8 CURLEY DNP - COACH'S DECISION ROGERS DNP - RIGHT THUMB STRAIN

TOTALS 240 41-82 31-39 9 39 48 26 27 8 20 121 (.500) (.795) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 20(22 PTS)

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

CEBALLOS F 34 11-21 17-20 5 4 9 1 6 2 1 39 NOWITZKI F 32 3-13 4-4 0 7 7 0 3 0 1 10 BRADLEY C 25 2-5 0-0 2 4 6 1 6 3 1 4 FINLEY G 43 14-22 1-1 1 6 7 1 3 1 5 31 STRICKLAND G 33 3-13 0-0 2 6 8 7 5 2 2 6 DAVIS 29 1-5 2-2 0 2 2 2 1 0 1 4 BUCKNER 18 2-6 1-1 3 2 5 1 5 0 0 5 ROOKS 5 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 JONES 21 4-8 0-0 0 3 3 5 0 1 1 10 NASH DNP - RIGHT ANKLE TENDON SPRAIN SUNDOV DNP - COACH'S DECISION TRENT DNP - LEFT GROIN STRAIN

TOTALS 240 41-94 25-28 13 34 47 18 29 9 13 111 (.436) (.893) TEAM REBS: 2 TOTAL TO: 13(19 PTS)

HOUSTON 35 25 30 31 - 121 DALLAS 22 20 40 29 - 111

BLOCKED SHOTS: HOUSTON - OLAJUWON 3, THOMAS, ANDERSON. DALLAS - CEBALLOS 2, FINLEY 2, NOWITZKI 2, BUCKNER. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: HOUSTON 8-25 (.320), BULLARD 2-3, WILLIAMS 2-4, ANDERSON 1-4, FRANCIS 1-5, MOBLEY 0-3, DREW 2-6. DALLAS 4-19 (.211), CEBALLOS 0-2, NOWITZKI 0-3, BRADLEY 0-1, FINLEY 2-3, STRICKLAND 0-3, DAVIS 0-2, JONES 2-5. TECHNICALS: DALLAS - ILLEGAL DEFENSE, BRADLEY. OFFICIALS: DON VADEN, TOM WASHINGTON, BENNIE ADAMS. A - 15,080. T - 2:20.


Box Score

HOUSTON (121) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Bullard 22 4-6 2-2 0-1 1 5 12 Williams 18 7-10 1-1 1-5 1 4 17 Miller 14 2-3 0-0 0-3 0 3 4 Anderson 34 3-8 3-5 2-8 6 1 10 Francis 42 8-16 14-15 3-6 11 4 31 Thomas 35 6-12 8-10 2-12 1 4 20 Gray 5 1-2 0-1 1-2 0 2 2 Olajuwon 14 0-4 0-0 0-7 1 2 0 Mobley 30 7-13 3-5 0-1 1 0 17 Drew 26 3-8 0-0 0-3 4 2 8 Curley DNP - coach's decision Rogers DNP - right thumb strain _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 41-82 31-39 9-48 26 27 121 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.500, FT-.795. 3-Point Goals: 8-25, .320 (Bullard 2-3, Williams 2-4, Anderson 1-4, Francis 1-5, Mobley 0-3, Drew 2-6). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 5 (Olajuwon 3, Thomas, Anderson). Turnovers: 20 (Francis 7, Anderson 3, Bullard 2, Miller 2, Thomas 2, Drew, Mobley, Olajuwon, Williams). Steals: 8 (Anderson 3, Francis 2, Mobley 2, Thomas).

DALLAS (111) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Ceballos 34 11-21 17-20 5-9 1 6 39 Nowitzki 32 3-13 4-4 0-7 0 3 10 Bradley 25 2-5 0-0 2-6 1 6 4 Finley 43 14-22 1-1 1-7 1 3 31 Strickland 33 3-13 0-0 2-8 7 5 6 Davis 29 1-5 2-2 0-2 2 1 4 Buckner 18 2-6 1-1 3-5 1 5 5 Rooks 5 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 Jones 21 4-8 0-0 0-3 5 0 10 Nash DNP - right ankle tendon sprain Sundov DNP - coach's decision Trent DNP - left groin strain _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 41-94 25-28 13-47 18 29 111 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.436, FT-.893. 3-Point Goals: 4-19, .211 (Ceballos 0-2, Nowitzki 0-3, Bradley 0-1, Finley 2-3, Strickland 0-3, Davis 0-2, Jones 2-5). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 7 (Ceballos 2, Finley 2, Nowitzki 2, Buckner). Turnovers: 13 (Finley 5, Strickland 2, Bradley, Ceballos, Davis, Jones, Nowitzki, Rooks). Steals: 9 (Bradley 3, Ceballos 2, Strickland 2, Finley, Jones). ____________________________________________ Houston 35 25 30 31 - 121 Dallas 22 20 40 29 - 111 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Dallas 2 (Illegal Defense, 3:12 3rd; Bradley, 3:47 4th). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 15,080. T: 2:20. Officials: Don Vaden, Tom Washington, Bennie Adams.


Game Story

DALLAS (Ticker) -- Rookie Steve Francis scored a season-high 31 points and added 11 assists as the Houston Rockets held off the Dallas Mavericks for their third straight victory, 121-111.

Francis surpassed his previous career best, a 27-point effort against Chicago on Saturday.

"(Steve) was phenomemal," Rocket's coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He's fearless. He (drove the lane) knowing their guys were gonna be there and got our other guys a couple of layups too. I would expect that growth to keep coming."

"That's probably one of the best first half's we played together as a unit" Francis said. "The second half they threw a scramble type press that got us a little bit rattled and we turned the ball over. We made a lot of clutch free throws down the stretch. Instead of settling for jumpers we started going to the basket more toward the end of the game."

Dallas, which trailed by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, pulled within 99-97 on two free throws by Dirk Nowitzki with 3:32 left. But Francis responded with a runner in the lane and added two free throws to give Houston a 103-97 cushion at the 2:46 mark.

Cedric Ceballos, who scored a team season-high 39 points, hit a layup to close the gap to 106-101 with 2:02 remaining. Francis missed the second of two free throws but corraled the rebound and fed Kenny Thomas under the basket for an uncontested layup that made it 109-101 with 1:25 to play.

Francis added four free throws and a layup in the final minute as the Rockets concluded a 3-1 road trip. Thomas finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for Houston, which overcame 20 turnovers with 50 percent (41-of-82) shooting.

"It was a weird, wild game," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We had a lot of guys that played really well for us."

"The ups and downs of an NBA season, from the highs to the lows -- the high point was our last game (a win over Portland) and the low point was tonight," Maverick's coach Don Nelson said. "I am very disappointed with our performance. It is hard to believe. Maybe after all these years, I should see it coming. I didn't believe that this team would not be ready tonight."

Houston went ahead 64-44 on a jumper by Walt Williams early in the third quarter and led 90-75 on two free throws by Shandon Anderson with 48 seconds left. But Ceballos, who carried Dallas with 19 points in the quarter, scored the final seven of the period to bring the Mavericks within 90-82.

"Cedric had a big game," Finley said. "If it wasn't for him, this game could have been a lot uglier than it was. He got to a point in the 3rd quarter where he just carried the team offensively."

Finley opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer from the right corner, making the score 90-85, and Nowitzki's jumper from the right sideline kept the Dallas close at 94-89. But Cuttino Mobley hit a driving layup and Francis made two free throws to keep the Mavericks at bay and give the Rockets a 98-89 lead with 6:32 left.

Dallas went on a 6-0 run, capped by a jumper by Finley, to cut the deficit to 98-95 with 4:01 to play.

Francis scored 10 points in the opening quarter as the Rockets closed the period with a 17-5 run to take a 35-22 lead. Houston took a 60-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Bryce Drew in the final minute of the second quarter and led 60-42 at halftime.

Finley had 31 points and seven rebounds for Dallas, which shot 44 percent (41-of-94) and made 26-of-28 free throws. Ceballos added nine boards and made 17-of-20 free throws before fouling out in the final minute.

"It was very disappointing to come out tonight after the way we played against Portland," Finley said. "It kind of makes the Portland win worthless. We had no energy, no effort from the starters or the guys of the bench. It was contagious at a point."

"Everyone needs to look at themselves individually in the mirror and question themselves if they really put out 110 percent effort. I'm man enough to say I didn't tonight."

Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon played his first game since being sidelined with a hernia injury on November 26. Olajuwon, who missed 22 games, did not score and grabbed seven rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

"He got some great rebounds in traffic," said Tomjanovich, referring to his veteran center. "It was a hard game to get the ball inside to Hakeem because Dallas would front him and swarm from the weak side. It was just tough to get him going tonight."

Mobley and Williams scored 17 points a piece for Houston, which held a slim 48-47 rebounding advantage.

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