Pacers Shut Down Rockets


Al Harrington got it going just when the Indiana Pacers needed a big push.

Harrington scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers rallied for a 96-87 victory Monday night that kept the Houston Rockets winless in five home games.

"I am much more patient and ready to play than last year," Harrington said. "Coach is experimenting with what combinations he's going to use and hopefully I will get some playing time."

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Game Summary

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  • The Pacers trailed by 10 points late in the third quarter before coming back to beat the Rockets, who got 18 points and a season-high 24 rebounds from Charles Barkley.

    "If you ever played against Charles you would know how he gets the job done," Pacers coach Larry Bird said. "He's very strong down low and knows how to rebound."

    The Rockets took a 45-40 halftime lead, then used a 14-5 run in the third quarter to take a 63-53 lead with 2:38 left in the period. Hakeem Olajuwon scored six points during the spurt.

    The Pacers cut Houston's lead on a pair of 3-pointers by Sam Perkins and a three-point play by Austin Croshere, but a jumper by Olajuwon and a driving layup by rookie Steve Francis kept the Rockets ahead 67-62 at the end of the third period.

    But Indiana then took control with a 17-4 run. Harrington put the Pacers ahead for good, 72-71, by hitting two free throws following a flagrant foul by Houston's Carlos Rogers.

    "We should have had a bigger lead but I told them to stay on them," Bird said. "We got back in it with the defene. We helped each other out and they started missing some shots.

    "Harrington was forcing it early and I think he was even carried away a bit, but he'll keep at it and start playing more consistent."

    Houston hit only 8 of 21 shots in the fourth quarter, and went 5:17 without scoring a point.

    The Rockets closed to 79-77 with a 6-0 run that included two free throws by Barkley, a basket by Olajuwon and a tip-in by Barkley.

    But Reggie Miller and Harrington each made two free throws, and Mark Jackson hit a 3-pointer to give the Pacers an 86-79 lead with 1:46 remaining.

    "We did a lot of good things out there for awhile," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We played well, then when things went bad, they were real bad. Down the stretch we had just as good shots as them but we couldn't make them.

    "We were trying to stop the bleeding and couldn't make the big play."

    Olajuwon had 18 points for the Rockets, while Francis had 18 points and 12 assists. Miller scored 17 points for Indiana, and Dale Davis added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

    "There's nothing you can do about missing open shots," Barkley said. "When you miss shots, it tough but I'm still positive. This team is a lot better than were two weeks ago and we're getting better."

    Notes

  • The Rockets have a 22-6 record against the Pacers in Compaq Center.
  • Barkley has five double-doubles this season and Olajuwon has four.
  • Francis entered the game leading the Rockets in scoring (17.3), assists (5.4) and turnovers (3.9).
  • The Pacers' 5-2 record is their best start ever. They've started 4-2 five times.

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