Rockets Blow By Mavs

Charles Barkley did his part. And, as usual, he wasn't shy about talking about it afterwards.

Barkley scored 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help the Houston Rockets finally win at home, 119-99 over the short-handed Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

"It's been a very frustrating and disappointing season thus far," Barkley said. "Tonight was the first time this season I've played up to my abilities because I played with a clear mind."

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  • Houston (3-10) had been the NBA's only winless home team at 0-6, but Barkley's inspired performance along with consistent play from his teammates was enough to beat the Mavericks (4-8).

    Dirk Nowitzki scored a career-high 31 points and Michael Finley had 29 to lead Dallas, reduced to an eight-man lineup by injuries and illness.

    The Rockets had their highest point total of the season and stopped their second five-game losing streak. The Mavericks have lost four straight.

    Despite the breakthrough victory for the overhauled Rockets and his own performance, Barkley criticized his teammates after the game.

    "It's hard to accept the fact that when you come in to watch film the TV will be on BET (Black Entertainment Television), and that when you're supposed to have guys ready to go at 4 o'clock, they won't get here until 4:30. I've been pissed off about it all season, but that's the way the game is today."

    "I'm not going to let it bother me anymore. I'm going to play the rest of the season like Charles Barkley can play."

    Houston, which has struggled to find an offensive identity between its youngsters and veterans, broke out with a 37-point third quarter.

    The Rckets led 57-56 early in the period before Barkley and Steve Francis, who finished with 17, took over. Shandon Anderson had seven of his 16 points in the period.

    "We came out in the third period with a lot more focus," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "I was especially pleased we didn't let them get back in the game."

    Houston used mostly reserves in the fourth quarter.

    "It's just so early," said Mavericks guard Hubert Davis. "(The Rockets) have dug a big hole, but if anyone can come out of it, the Rockets can."

    Dallas was playing without starting point guard Robert Pack (right hamstring), backup Steve Nash (right ankle) and Cedric Ceballos (flu).

    "We were running on empty," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "I told them before the game that fatigue might be a factor, and it was."

    Each of the Rockets' victories has come against a depleted foe. The LA Lakers were without suspended Shaquille O'Neal and an injured Kobe Bryant on Nov. 12, though Barkley also missed the game because of his fracas with O'Neal earlier that week.

    Golden State guard Mookie Blaylock was out of action the next night in Houston's only other victory.


  • Olajuwon has 25,568 career points and needs 46 more to pass Alex English for 10th place on the NBA's career scoring list. English scored 25,613.
  • Nowitzki has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and seven in a row.
  • Besides Pack, Nash and Ceballos, the other ailing Maverick on the active roster is Randell Jackson, who hasn't dressed since the season opener because of a deep right thigh bruise.
  • The Rockets, who rode a five-year sellout streak into this season, failed to fill Compaq Center for the fifth time in seven games.

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