SEATTLE, Nov. 29 (Ticker) -- One good quarter was enough to lift the Houston Rockets past the Seattle SuperSonics.

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Steve Francis scored 13 points and Glen Rice added nine in the decisive third quarter as the Rockets rallied for an 83-72 victory over the Sonics.

Houston scored just 18 points in each of the first two quarters and managed only 15 in the final period. But the Rockets dominated the fading Sonics in the third, which was enough to make them 2-2 on their five-game road trip.

Seattle had a 46-36 halftime lead but was outscored, 32-11, in the third period. Helped by the ball movement of rookie center Yao Ming, the Rockets shot 13-of-18 from the floor during the quarter while the Sonics were just 4-of-23.

"In the second half, Yao's passing was phenomenal and then Steve got it going," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "But I shouldn't have even brought up those things. Defense won this game for us. I'm as proud as I could be about a team."

Houston scored 13 of the quarter's first 16 points. Rookie Juaquin Hawkins scored four straight points before Kenny Thomas capped the burst with a layup to forge a 49-49 tie with 7:46 to go.

"I thought we did a marvelous job of battling," Francis said. "We wanted to get everybody involved we did a good job of getting the ball down low to (Yao). I thought we surprised them by hitting some shots. Nobody was trying to do it by themselves."

After Seattle's Rashard Lewis buried a jumper, Rice gave the Rockets the lead for good at 52-51 on a 3-pointer with 6:39 left. Francis scored the next nine points for Houston, which carried a 68-57 advantage into the final quarter.

The Rockets had their largest lead at 70-57 after Kelvin Cato's dunk nine seconds into the final quarter. The Sonics never got closer than six thereafter.

Francis finished with 21 points and Rice scored 12. Thomas had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Yao had six points, four rebounds and five assists for Houston.

The Rockets shot just 44 percent (31-of-71) but limited the Sonics to 38 percent (30-of-80). Seattle managed just 26 points on 9-of-37 shooting in the second half.

"Twenty-six points in the second half?" Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "We are a jump-shooting team. We have to learn to mix it up, attack the basket and not just rely on the perimeter game, because you just can't shoot the lights out every night."

"We didn't shoot the ball well," said Lewis, who made 7-of-15 shots. "We weren't able to knock down jump shots."

Desmond Mason scored 19 points and Lewis added 18 as the Seattle lost for the sixth time in seven games.

"It's just obvious that we're not playing good basketball right now," McMillan said. "We're not playing well on either end of the floor. The execution is not where it should be and it's showing in our play."

Gary Payton set a franchise record by playing in his 964th career game but had 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting. He handed out 14 assists.

Houston had a 29-26 lead with just under seven minutes left in the second quarter before Seattle closed the first half with a 20-7 run.

Mason scored 12 points in the second quarter. He had six consecutive points during the run and gave the Sonics their largest lead at 46-34 on a jumper with 32 seconds left.