HOUSTON, April 12 (Ticker) --
The Houston Rockets got the victory they
needed, but they still need a lot of help.
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scored 13 of his 17 points in a lopsided third
quarter as the Rockets kept their slim playoff hopes alive with
a 101-86 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
Houston (41-39) won for just the fourth time in 10 games and
pulled within 2 1/2 games of idle Phoenix (43-36) for the final
playoff spot in the Western Conference with two games left.
The Suns can clinch the final postseason berth with their next
victory and must lose their remaining three games for the
Rockets to make the playoffs.
"We've got to play hard regardless of what Phoenix is doing,"
Houston guard Steve Francis
said. "There's too much pride among
the players and coaches to just lay down."
"We've got to win out and hope for the worst for (Phoenix),"
Mobley said. "We dug our own hole. Basketball is a game like
life. There's a lot of spurts."
Francis scored 17 points and Eddie Griffin
and Glen Rice
15 apiece as Houston had seven players in double figures.
The Rockets held a 50-48 halftime edge and outscored the
SuperSonics, 33-16, in the third quarter. They opened the period
with a 25-7 run, highlighted by eight points from James Posey
Mobley buried a jumper and a 3-pointer before Griffin capped the
burst with a turnaround shot for a 75-55 cushion with 3:21
Houston made 14-of-24 shots in the third quarter while holding
Seattle to 5-of-18 shooting.
"Defensively we came out with a lot of energy. We set the tone
early and, most of all, we made shots," Houston assistant Larry
Smith said. "Once we started making shots, it was contagious."
"From the start of the game there was just no defense and a big
mental letdown," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "We didn't
play solid basketball in the first half and I told our team that
we could still win the game. Then Houston jumped out on us (in
the third quarter) and went nuts and that was it.
The Sonics never got closer than 15 points in the final 12
minutes. The Rockets had their largest lead at 89-64 with 9:33
scored 12 points and Posey finished with 11 as
Houston shot 51 percent (41-of-81) from the floor and held a
41-32 rebounding advantage.
scored 23 points and Rashard Lewis
added 19 for the
Sonics. Sharpshooter Ray Allen
was held to six points on
2-of-10 shooting but handed out eight assists.
Seattle, which was eliminated from the playoff race Friday, shot
just 40 percent (29-of-72) from the floor.
"I think it's fair to say that we were very flat," Allen said.
"It could have been an emotional thing or it could have been
physical. Houston smelled blood and they came out and attacked
us. They just hit us with a knockout punch."
Barry made 6-of-9 shots, including 3-of-6 3-pointers. But he
was the only effective shooter for the Sonics. Reserve guard
missed all nine shots and center Predrag Drobnjak
was just 2-of-8 from the floor.