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Rockets 90, Pacers 88

November 15, 1996

HOUSTON (AP) _ Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon enjoyed the victory, not the pace.

Hakeem Olajuwon scored 9 points in the final 4:32 and blocked Reggie Miller’s layup in the final seconds Thursday night as the Houston Rockets rallied for a 90-88 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

The Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in an exhausting double overtime game on Tuesday night, and trailed the Pacers most of the night before rallying.

``I think we were tired, obviously, one of our weaknesses is age,″ Barkley said. ``You could see we were tired out there so this is a great win. We played very sluggish tonight.″

``This was a wakeup call for us,″ Olajuwon said. ``We can’t continue to play these kinds of games. We should try to make it easier on ourselves.″

Olajuwon scored 21 points and got 12 rebounds for the Rockets, who trailed 85-76 with 4:32 left. Plagued by foul trouble, Olajuwon snapped an 88-all tie with a baseline jumper with 20 seconds left.

The Pacers had a chance to tie, but Olajuwon blocked Miller’s shot and players for both teams wrestled for the loose ball near midcourt as the buzzer sounded.

``When the game is on the line, you look for opportunities like that,″ Olajuwon said.

Barkley ran up and bear hugged referee Ed Middleton after the wild finish.

``I didn’t know if he was saying it was over or he was going to put some time on the clock, but after all night he finally got one right.″

Barkley had 25 points and nine rebounds for Houston, the first time this season he failed to get double figures in rebounds. Matt Bullard added four 3-pointers to help the Rockets rally.

Travis Best matched a career-high with 23 points to lead the Pacers and Miller added 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting.

``Nobody can hang their heads after playing this type of game,″ Best said. ``Everybody is upset the most because this could have been a nice win. Hopefully, we can bounce back and win some games. All of a sudden calls go the other way.″

Miller wasn’t too pleased with the officiating either.

``There was no way the refs were going to foul Hakeem out of this game,″ Miller said. ``It’s comical what the refs in this league are doing to us. I don’t care what Rod Thorn (NBA senior vice president of basketball operations) does. We had this game in the bag.″

The Rockets led 47-46 at halftime before the Pacers went on a 14-4 run to take a 72-63 lead after three.

Bullard made a pair of 3-pointers during a 10-run in the second quarter that enabled Houston to rally from a 40-33 deficit.

``I feel very fortunate to win this game,″ Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. ``We didn’t play good basketball until the fourth quarter but our guys were scrapping the whole game and it’s a gutsy win for us.″

Notes: Barkley played a club record 58 minutes in Tuesday’s double overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and leads the NBA in minutes per game. ... The Pacers placed Haywoode Workman on the injured list with a torn left cruciate ligament and activated Duane Ferrell. ... The Rockets hold a 22-4 edge over the Pacers in games played in the Summit.

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