The two teams have reversed roles. The Sacramento Kings are coasting, while the Houston Rockets struggle for each victory.
After beating the Kings 11 straight times entering the season, Houston has lost twice in four days, the latest a 110-105 Sacramento victory on Sunday night.
"They are struggling, but any time you have Olajuwon and Barkley, someone is eventually going to pay down the road," Kings center Vlade Divac said. "I think they will come back, they are still a good team."
So are the Kings, who improved to 7-1, tying the franchise mark for the best start, held by the 1952-53 Rochester Royals. They have won 12 straight at home over the past two seasons.
"We're winning and that's great, but it's more important to focus on what we're trying to do overall," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We have two more home games (this week) and have a chance to put overselves in great shape going on the road."
Trailinby seven points late in the fourth quarter, Francis made a free throw and followed with a 3-pointer, pulling Houston to within 106-103 with 52 seconds left.
But Williams responded with a jumper and Darrick Martin made two free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
"Until we accept the challenge to get better, we're going to struggle," Barkley said.
Williams, who scored 23 points in the earlier win against Houston, made 12-of-23 shots and had six rebounds.
"Jason really had a good game tonight, he made a lot of good decisions," Adelman said.
Leading 99-97, Predrag Stojakovic made a 3-pointer. Webber followed with a 10-footer from the baseline and Scot Pollard (12 points, seven rebounds) added a dunk, putting the Kings ahead 106-99 with 2:15 remaining.
The Rockets used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 70-69. Webber helped keep the Kings in front, scoring eight points in the period as Sacramento took a 83-77 lead into the fourth quarter.
Trailing by four points, Sacramento closed the half with an 18-4 run to take a 60-50 lead.
Williams, who had 12 points and seven assists in the opening half, scored the final five points of the first half, including a long 3-pointer. Webber also scored 12 first-half points.
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