After sitting out the entire third quarter with a sore back, Charles Barkley looked very healthy in the final period Sunday night.
Barkley scored 11 of his 15 points in the first 5:14 of the fourth quarter, helping the Houston Rockets win their eighth straight game with a 107-93 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
"Barkley is Barkley, he's one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game," said Sacramento's Lawrence Funderburke. "You don't want to see him get going because he'll come at you. Even though he is winding down his career, he can play with anyone in this league. He's just a smart player."
Hakeem Olajuwon had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets, who took a 93-79 lead with 6:46 left following two inside baskets by Barkley.
"Houston played a terrific game," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "Their post-up people were good, they made a lot of 3s and we just didn't have the answers for them."
The Kings played without Chris Webber, the NBA's leading rebounder who was home with the flu.
"I thought with Webber out it was a dangerous game," Olajuwon said. "When a key player is out like that, many teams play their best. I was concerned."
Houston started the season with a 5-1 record, then tailed off as Barkley missed eight straight games. Houston has been tough to beat since his return.
"We've got it going right now," coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "We just have to stay healthy. We're getting to know each other now and playing good at the defensive end."
Cuttino Mobley scored 14 points and reserve Othella Harrington had 13 points for the Rockets.
Jason Williams led the Kings with 21 points. Funderburke filled in for Webber and had a solid game with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Vlade Divac added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Sacramento used an 11-2 run to cut Houston's lead to 98-91 with 1:58 remaining. But Scotie Pippen, who finished with 17 points, made a 3-pointer with the shot-clock running down to put the Rockets up by 10.
Houston scored 10 straight points late in the second quarter and led 51-47 at halftime. Olajuwon scored 11 points and Harrington had nine as the Rockets built a 75-66 lead after three quarters. Mobley made a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the period as the Rockets closed with a 7-1 run.
"Houston just really came to play and did a great job, especially in the fourth quarter," Divac said. Notes: Barkley's three-point play in the third quarter moved him past Adrian Dantley into 14th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. ... Sacramento outrebounded Houston 57-40. ... Funderburke made his first seven shots before having one rejected by Olajuwon in the third quarter. ... Houston is 13-3 in March.
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