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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- HOUSTON 17 11 23 30 81 BOSTON 30 14 30 22 96 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: HOU - CUTTINO MOBLEY 17, HAKEEM OLAJUWON 11, TWO PLAYERS WITH 9 BOS - PAUL PIERCE 16, BRYANT STITH 14, CHRIS CARR 14

HIGH REBOUND: HOU - MAURICE TAYLOR 7, FOUR PLAYERS WITH 6 BOS - ANTOINE WALKER 13, VITALY POTAPENKO 8

HIGH ASSISTS: HOU - MOOCHIE NORRIS 7, STEVE FRANCIS 4 BOS - ANTOINE WALKER 8, DOUG OVERTON 3

ATT: 13,003


Extended Box

HOUSTON (81) AT BOSTON (96)

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

TAYLOR F 28 1-9 1-2 1 6 7 2 2 0 1 3 WILLIAMS F 20 3-6 2-2 0 3 3 0 4 0 3 9 OLAJUWON C 21 4-13 3-3 5 1 6 0 1 0 2 11 ANDERSON G 24 2-6 1-2 1 3 4 1 2 0 3 5 FRANCIS G 27 2-7 1-1 3 3 6 4 4 1 2 6 COLLIER 21 3-10 1-2 1 1 2 0 0 0 1 7 MOBLEY 32 5-17 5-5 0 2 2 2 5 3 1 17 BULLARD 16 2-5 0-0 2 4 6 0 1 0 0 5 THOMAS 15 2-6 5-5 1 2 3 1 1 2 1 9 NORRIS 26 2-5 1-1 2 4 6 7 1 4 1 5 ROGERS 5 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 LANGHI 5 2-4 0-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4

TOTALS 240 28-88 20-24 16 29 45 17 22 10 16 81 (.318) (.833) TEAM REBS: 5 TOTAL TO: 16(12 PTS)

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

PIERCE F 23 6-10 2-3 0 6 6 2 3 0 5 16 WALKER F 30 5-15 3-3 2 11 13 8 1 1 2 13 BATTIE C 23 3-6 2-2 2 5 7 0 3 1 0 8 HERREN G 25 1-6 0-0 1 0 1 2 4 1 1 2 STITH G 34 4-9 6-7 1 5 6 1 1 2 1 14 OVERTON 23 5-11 0-0 0 2 2 3 2 0 0 10 E WILLIAMS 18 2-4 1-2 0 2 2 0 2 1 1 5 MOISO 10 0-1 3-4 2 3 5 1 3 0 2 3 POTAPENKO 17 4-6 1-2 3 5 8 1 1 1 3 9 MCCARTY 15 1-3 0-0 0 2 2 1 1 1 0 2 CARR 16 4-6 5-6 0 1 1 1 4 0 2 14 BLOUNT 6 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 1 1 0 1 0

TOTALS 240 35-78 23-29 11 44 55 21 26 8 18 96 (.449) (.793) TEAM REBS: 8 TOTAL TO: 18(19 PTS)

HOUSTON 17 11 23 30 - 81 BOSTON 30 14 30 22 - 96

BLOCKED SHOTS: HOUSTON - OLAJUWON 3, ANDERSON, TAYLOR. BOSTON - BATTIE 5, BLOUNT, MCCARTY. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: HOUSTON 5-17 (.294), WILLIAMS 1-3, ANDERSON 0-1, FRANCIS 1-1, MOBLEY 2-6, BULLARD 1-4, THOMAS 0-1, NORRIS 0-1. BOSTON 3-9 (.333), PIERCE 2-2, WALKER 0-1, HERREN 0-2, STITH 0-2, CARR 1-2. TECHNICALS: HOUSTON - ILLEGAL DEFENSE. OFFICIALS: JOE DEROSA, KEVIN FEHR, COURTNEY KIRKLAND. A - 13,003. T - 2:06.


Box Score

HOUSTON (81) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Taylor 28 1-9 1-2 1-7 2 2 3 Williams 20 3-6 2-2 0-3 0 4 9 Olajuwon 21 4-13 3-3 5-6 0 1 11 Anderson 24 2-6 1-2 1-4 1 2 5 Francis 27 2-7 1-1 3-6 4 4 6 Collier 21 3-10 1-2 1-2 0 0 7 Mobley 32 5-17 5-5 0-2 2 5 17 Bullard 16 2-5 0-0 2-6 0 1 5 Thomas 15 2-6 5-5 1-3 1 1 9 Norris 26 2-5 1-1 2-6 7 1 5 Rogers 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Langhi 5 2-4 0-1 0-0 0 0 4 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 28-88 20-24 16-45 17 22 81 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.318, FT-.833. 3-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (Williams 1-3, Anderson 0-1, Francis 1-1, Mobley 2-6, Bullard 1-4, Thomas 0-1, Norris 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 5 (Olajuwon 3, Anderson, Taylor). Turnovers: 16 (Anderson 3, Williams 3, Francis 2, Olajuwon 2, Collier, Mobley, Norris, Rogers, Taylor, Thomas). Steals: 10 (Norris 4, Mobley 3, Thomas 2, Francis).

BOSTON (96) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Pierce 23 6-10 2-3 0-6 2 3 16 Walker 30 5-15 3-3 2-13 8 1 13 Battie 23 3-6 2-2 2-7 0 3 8 Herren 25 1-6 0-0 1-1 2 4 2 Stith 34 4-9 6-7 1-6 1 1 14 Overton 23 5-11 0-0 0-2 3 2 10 E Williams 18 2-4 1-2 0-2 0 2 5 Moiso 10 0-1 3-4 2-5 1 3 3 Potapenko 17 4-6 1-2 3-8 1 1 9 Mccarty 15 1-3 0-0 0-2 1 1 2 Carr 16 4-6 5-6 0-1 1 4 14 Blount 6 0-1 0-0 0-2 1 1 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 35-78 23-29 11-55 21 26 96 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.449, FT-.793. 3-Point Goals: 3-9, .333 (Pierce 2-2, Walker 0-1, Herren 0-2, Stith 0-2, Carr 1-2). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 7 (Battie 5, Blount, Mccarty). Turnovers: 18 (Pierce 5, Potapenko 3, Carr 2, Moiso 2, Walker 2, Blount, E Williams, Herren, Stith). Steals: 8 (Stith 2, Battie, E Williams, Herren, Mccarty, Potapenko, Walker). ____________________________________________ Houston 17 11 23 30 - 81 Boston 30 14 30 22 - 96 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Houston 1 (Illegal Defense, 10:42 3rd). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 13,003. T: 2:06. Officials: Joe Derosa, Kevin Fehr, Courtney Kirkland.


Game Story

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics showed Rick Pitino that they are not ready to quit, either.

Hours after informing the media that he still loves coaching the Celtics and genuinely hopes his flailing team can turn things around, Pitino was treated to a strong 48-minute effort and a convincing 96-81 victory over the Houston Rockets.

"What I told my team was, if we continue to play defense the way we're playing, I will not be the coach next year," Pitino said of the impassioned plea he made to his players after Tuesday's 114-90 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Defense was not a problem tonight. After losing six of its previous eight games and surrendering over 100 points in five of its last seven contests, Boston yielded a season-low point total and held Houston to 32 percent (28-of-88) shooting.

"A great effort by our guys in all phases of the game," Pitino said. "We really looked to distribute the basketball and did all the little things to keep them out of isolations. I know what I said this afternoon about defense and wanting to see more of it. That was probably the best ball movement and the best defense we've had this season."

Paul Pierce scored 16 points to pace Boston's balanced attack and fellow forward Antoine Walker had 13 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.

"I still really like this team," Pitino said. "They have a bright future."

"This wasn't about playing for Rick, this was about playing for us," Pierce said. "We got our butts whooped the last two (games) by 20 or 30 points. Something we haven't done this year is play consistently defensively in back-to-back games. We'll see if we can do that Friday (vs. Orlando)."

Winners of their previous four games, the Rockets were blown out of FleetCenter early, falling behind 30-17 after one period and not seriously challenging thereafter. Houston slipped to 8-41 all-time at Boston.

"Some nights, some guys aren't doing it, aren't getting it done," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "Tonight, we didn't have anyone getting it done. I need a breath mint to get the taste of that one out of my mouth."

Bryant Stith and Chris Carr scored 14 points apiece and Doug Overton added 10 for the Celtics, who shot 45 percent (35-of-78) and outscored the Rockets, 44-22, in the paint. Boston held a 55-45 rebounding advantage.

Hakeem Olajuwon was the lone Houston starter in double figures with 11 points but Cuttino Mobley provided his usual spark off the bench with 17.

"We came out so flat," Olajuwon said. "If someone picks it up, we could have gotten back into it. But we blew our opportunity."

Walker, who established season highs in rebounds and assists to offset 5-of-15 shooting, opened the scoring with a 16-footer to give Boston the lead for good. Tony Battie slammed and Stith made three straight baskets as the Celtics exhibited their willingness to improve by racing to a 10-0 lead just over three minutes into play.

"We didn't pay any attention to all that stuff this afternoon," Walker said. "You have to understand something, we need coach. We need him and he needs us. We need to work together. I don't understand all of this hype and all of this attention over him asking us to play better defense. Because we need to."

The Rockets managed just 11 points in the second quarter, hitting 3-of-22 shots. They misfired on 35-of-45 shots in the first half and trailed 44-28 at intermission.

Carr's 25-footer with 8:02 to play gave Boston its biggest lead, 82-58.

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