SEATTLE (AP) _ Gary Payton had 27 points and 12 assists, and the Seattle SuperSonics held Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in check in a 118-94 victory Tuesday night over the Rockets.
Detlef Schrempf added 22 points and Vin Baker 20, while Charles Barkley led the Rockets with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Sonics, who lost to the Rockets in seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals last season, led by 26 points twice in the third quarter and this time didn’t blow their lead.
The Sonics blew a 20-point lead in losing their home opener to Dallas Saturday night.
Dale Ellis added 17 points for the Sonics including three 3-pointers. Eddie Johnson had 15 points for the Rockets.
Olajuwon had 8 points and four rebounds in 32 minutes, and Drexler was held to 9 points in 25 minutes.
The Sonics led 8-2 in the first three minutes, and were in front 29-21 with 11 seconds to go in the first quarter. After Drexler hit a 3-pointer to cut Seattle’s lead to 29-27 to start the second quarter, the Sonics scored 10 straight _ including eight by Ellis.
The Sonics were in front 61-47 by halftime, mostly because the Rockets committed 17 turnovers that led to 21 points by Seattle.
The Sonics built on their 14-point halftime lead, in the third quarter, going in front 86-60 and 90-64.
Notes: The Sonics shot .584 from the field (45-for-77) with Payton hitting 8-of-18 shots and Baker 10-of-14. ...Schrempf connected on all 10 free throw attempts. ... The Sonics now go on a four-game road trip beginning in Toronto on Thursday night. ... The Rockets finished with 28 turnovers that led to 32 points for Seattle.