Rockets 88, Clippers 83
HOUSTON (AP) _ Hakeem Olajuwon scored 20 points, including the go-ahead basket, and grabbed 12 rebounds, leading the Houston Rockets to their sixth straight victory, 88-83 over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
Sleepy Floyd contributed 15 points, while Kenny Smith and Kennard Winchester had 11 each.
Ron Harper led Los Angeles with 19 points, followed by Danny Manning with 14 and Ken Norman and Gary Grant with 10 each. Norman grabbed 15 rebounds.
Houston outscored Los Angeles 9-2 to open the fourth quarter and led 73-64 with 9:59 left. The Clippers then scored 10 straight to take the lead with 7:30 remaining. A basket by Olajuwon gave Houston the lead for good, however.
A 3-point shot by Smith increased Houston’s lead to 80-76. Loy Vaught cut the Clippers’ deficit to 80-78, but they were never that close again.
Trailing 84-81, the Clippers had a chance to tie with 14 seconds left. But a 3-point shot by Kiki Vandeweghe fell short.
Houston moved ahead 15-11 with 4:25 left in the first quarter and led 22-20 going into the second quarter. The Rockets took a 30-26 lead before the Clippers scored nine straight. The Clippers led 41-40 at the half.
The Rockets led by as much as five three times in the third quarter, and managed a 64-60 lead entering the fourth quarter.
It was Houston’s defense that made the difference, according to Floyd.
″It was a defensive ball game. Neither team shot very well, but we made the defensive plays down the stretch,″ Floyd said.
Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich agreed.
″We played very well defensively, except for that 10-streak that they had. We held them in the 30s (35.8 percent from the field) and they are a very good offensive team,″ Tomjanovich said.
The six-game winning streak is Houston’s longest since a team-record, 13- game run in March, 1991. It is the Rockets’ 13th straight home victory over the Clippers.
″This winning streak is a pleasant surprise,″ Floyd said. ″It’s especially surprising when you consider we’re playing without two of our top starters,″ Otis Thorpe and Vernon Maxwell, both injured.
Los Angeles coach Larry Brown was impressed with Houston’s play.
″They are unselfish and when you’ve got a great player like Olajuwon and some pretty good other players to go along with him, you’ve got a chance to be pretty good,″ Brown said.
″They jumped on us early and we weren’t able to get the job done down the stretch,″ Manning added.