Perhaps Hakeem has a point.
Playing perhaps his best game this season, Hakeem Olajuwon hit his first 7 shots and was one of 6 Rockets to score in double figures as Houston stunned the Seattle crowd with a 111-104 win over the Sonics.
Houston ups their record to 11-9.
The Sonics shot over 55% while the Rockets managed to connect on just 45.9% of their field goals. So how did the Rockets pull it off? Had they not hit the long ball they would have lost -- plain and simple. The Rockets tied an NBA record with 9 three-pointers in the second quarter alone... it was insane. They hit 10 of their first 15 from long range (never mind they missed 7 of their next 8).
The Sonics were fueled by Gary Payton, who hit 15 of 25 shots for 35 points and 15 assists. Vin Baker also added 17 and 9 boards while Ruben Patterson knocked down 15.
Olajuwon finished with 17 points but the point total wouldn't tell the story of what he meant to the game. He swatted 5 Sonic shots in the paint and picked a key steal that helped the Rockets seize the momentum late in the fourth. He did all this while playing just 27 minutes.
Dream was by no means the lone Rocket hero. Maurice Taylor had his best game as a Rocket, scoring 20 points and leading the team in boards (not a misprint) with 7. He had one of the baddest ass dunks of the season in the first quarter ... a soaring one-handed jam in Patrick Ewing's noggin'.
Got to give it up to Mo -- he's taken abuse from many lately, myself included, and he turned it around to have a big game tonight.
Notice, two of the biggest heroes in Taylor and Olajuwon got serious minutes in the fourth quarter -- something that hasn't happened much as of late.
Steve Francis also was awesome... though Payton's numbers may have exceeded those of the second-year Rocket guard, Steve still led the Rockets with 21, handed out 10 assists, grabbed 6 boards and picked 3 steals.
Cuttino Mobley also banked home 17 points. Matt Bullard was smoking from long range, hitting 4-5, and finished with 14 points while Kenny Thomas also drained 3-4 from downtown for 11 points.
How about little Moochie Norris? 6 points and 9 assists -- 8 of which came in the first half.
Regardless of the win, the Rockets are looking weaker and weaker defensively in the paint. Dream, when he's playing, has provided a boost here, but Hakeem can't go 48 minutes and the Rockets don't have a defensive stopper at the power forward spot. The Sonics killed the Rockets on the boards (44-32).
It was Sacramento Revisited early as Seattle jumped out to an 8-0 lead in no time. The Rockets came back, courtesy of Hakeem Olajuwon, who scored 8 of the Rockets first 11 points. After a Mo Taylor bucket, the Rockets trailed 16-13.
The Sonics took a 22-15 lead after a Payton bucket, but Matt Bullard came off the bench to score 5 quick points, bringing the Rockets to 24-22.
After back to back threes by Bullard and Kenny Thomas, the Rockets trailed 35-34. Then a Moochie three-point play, and back to back threes by Kenny Thomas and Cuttino made it 43-37 Rockets.
Then Kenny hit another three (the Rockets were 7-12 from long range at this point), and the Rockets led 48-41. Gary Payton converted a three-point play, which set the Seattle record for career points... but Cuttino put up another three and drained it and Houston led 51-44.
Then, as if it was a joke, Bullard put up another three and hit nothing but net -- the Rockets were 9-14 from long range at this point.
But the Sonics couldn't miss either (shooting 62% from the field at this point) ... Vin Baker was killing the Rockets inside and after a bucket in the paint the Rockets led by just 4, 54-50.
After yes, unbelievably, another three-pointer, by Bullard (his fourth) the Rockets were 10-15 from the arc and led 59-52.
Francis on a fast break then gave a charity dunk (when he could have taken it himself) to Cuttino, then Steve worked Payton, got fouled and hit a baseline jumper. Payton was so pissed he picked up a technical, and when it was all said and done the Rockets led 65-56 with 10 seconds left in the half.
The Rockets had 43 points in the second quarter alone. Halftime: Rockets 65, Sonics 58.
Mobley and Bullard each had 14 at the break. Kenny added 11, Francis 10 while Moochie had 8 assists. Payton led the Sonics with 17.
Love or hate Mo Taylor, he started out the third in big fashion. He converted a three-point play putting the Rockets up 10, then had an unbelievable slam over Patrick Ewing and got the foul (though he missed the free throw).
It was nasty.
Taylor then hit a hook in the lane, then slammed home another (off of Francis' 9th assist and 5th in the quarter) and before you knew it Mo had 9 in the quarter.
But the Sonics were hotter and just couldn't miss -- they had 14 points in the paint in the first 5 and half minutes of the third quarter. After a Payton turnaround in the lane the Rockets were up only 4, 78-74.
After an Hakeem 20-footer (he hadn't missed, 7-7 from the field at this point), the Rockets led 82-78. On the flipside, Walt Williams hit his first jumper of the game after 8 consecutive misses, and the lead was 86-79.
Hakeem swatted Vin Baker three straight times in the paint (and badly) -- twice in a row on one possession then again the next trip up the court. Fans actually started to boo Baker... but it was Hakeem's timing from the weakside. However it didn't pay off -- Desmond Mason hit two jumpers then Rashard Lewis slammed home a snowbird, and Rudy T was forced to call timeout, leading by just one 86-85.
Mo Taylor had 11 in the period -- through three, Rockets 88, Sonics 85.
Sonics came charging back in the fourth... when Payton hit a jumper with 9:42 left Seattle tied the game at 89.
The Rockets could do nothing... and two Patterson free throws gave the Sonics a 93-91 lead. Though Moochie Norris converted a gorgeous fast break reverse layup under Ewing and got fouled, he missed the free throw (his second freebie miss of the period) and Payton on the other end hit a baseline jumper and was fouled (missed the free throw), giving Seattle a 95-93 edge with 5:43 left.
Mo Taylor hit 1 of 2 free throws, but Payton again scored, giving Seattle a 3-point edge.
Huge blunder made by the Rockets -- after Hakeem made 2 free throws they forced a Payton miss and had numbers going the other way ... Mobley missed a POINT BLANK layup, and the advantage remained Seattle's 99-98.
After Hakeem picked a Seattle pass he then got fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 99. Dream then swatted a Payton drive (his 4th block of the game) and that got the Rockets going the other way, with Stevie Franchise nailing a three with 3:02 left, giving the Rockets the lead back 102-99.
Hakeem then altered a Baker shot for a miss and Francis nailed a 16-footer on the other end giving the Rockets a 5-point edge. A little later a technical foul on Vin Baker made it a 6-point lead for the Rockets with 2:13 to go.
With 1:20 to go Vin Baker scored, cutting it to 107-102. With 47 seconds left Rashard Lewis was fouled and went to the line, but he missed both free throws.
The Rockets held on to pull out the huge road win from there.