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Hawks 76, Rockets 74

February 22, 1997

ATLANTA (AP) _ It was sweet revenge for the Atlanta Hawks after being embarrassed only four nights earlier in Houston.

Mookie Blaylock hit a 15-foot jumper with one-tenth of a second remaining Friday night, lifting the Hawks over Houston 76-74 and avenging a 29-point loss to the Rockets on Monday night.

``We were upset about the loss in Houston, but we basically just wanted to tell them that we were better than the way we played in Houston,″ said Atlanta’s Steve Smith. ``And Mookie hit the shot. We’re happy.″

Blaylock’s basket before a sellout crowd of 16,378 was Atlanta’s only score in the final 5:08 after Smith’s basket gave the Hawks a 74-68 lead.

``Describe the shot?″ asked Blaylock. ``It went in. I got a pick and got a good look. I’m just glad it went in. We went out there (Houston) and got our butts beat, so it was good to get this one.″

Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens said the shot was definitely set up for Blaylock, who led Atlanta with 17 points.

``On the last shot, I definitely wanted Mookie to have the shot,″ said Wilkens, who figured Houston had to play it honest with Atlanta’s other shooters in the game _ Smith, Christian Laettner and 3-point specialist Henry James.

``Guys are going to be afraid to leave Christian. And with Steve and Henry on the wings, how are you going to leave them alone?″ Wilkens said.

The Rockets tied it at 74 on a pair of free throws by Hakeem Olajuwon with 1:21 left. But Houston committed a 10-second violation, failing to get the ball over midcourt, and gave it back to Atlanta with 14.4 seconds left.

``The officials made the correct call,″ said Houston’s Charles Barkley, who led the Rockets with 22 points.

``Down the stretch, we just made a mental mistake,″ he said. ``They have a good team, they have a good coach, but we’re obviously the better team.″

Maybe at home, but not in Atlanta.

The win gave the Hawks a 22-2 record at the Omni and helped make up for the 127-98 loss at Houston, their most lopsided defeat of the season.

``The revenge factor was there,″ Laettner said. ``We had just played them at their home arena, where they play better, just the same way we play better at home.″

Laettner added 14 and Smith 12 for Atlanta. James had 11, all in the first quarter when the Hawks opened up a 25-11 lead

The Rockets, with former Hawks star Kevin Willis scoring nine points, made up the deficit and took the lead at 36-35 on Olajuwon’s jumper 5:09 before the half.

The Hawks tied it at 44 on a pair of free throws by Smith 22 seconds before halftime.

Olajuwon, the seventh-leading scorer in the league with a 23.7-point average, finished with nine points, his second game in a week in single digits as the Rockets lost their ninth in 12 games. He had six against Seattle on Feb. 14.

``I didn’t worry about the offensive end,″ said Olajuwon, who was 3-of-11 from the field in 39 minutes. ``Charles and Kevin had good nights. I focused on the defensive end.″

Olajuwon had 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Atlanta’s Dikembe Mutombo had nine points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.

``I don’t think Mutombo can play much better than that. He was amazing down under the basket,″ Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.

Notes: Houston’s Clyde Drexler remains on the injured list with a sprained left hamstring. ... The Hawks also have a starter on the injured list, Tyrone Corbin, who has a strained back. ... The game was Atlanta’s 11th sellout of the season and seventh in its last nine at the Omni. Atlanta had only five sellouts last season. ... The Hawks lost their home opener, then won 20 in a row at the Omni, before losing to Chicago 89-88 on Feb. 14.

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