Houston's Big Three Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley weren't the top scorers, but the Rockets won their ninth straight anyway.
Rookie Michael Dickerson and Brent Price scored 19 points each as the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-95 Tuesday night.
"There's going to be nights when they're tired. They're older and their bodies can't take much abuse," Dickerson joked about the Rockets' three big stars. "We have such great talent on our team. Our team is not just the Big Three."
The Rockets led by 22 points early in the third quarter, but the Clippers got within five in the fourth quarter.
"We had an opportunity to put this team away and we didn't show the killer instinct," said Pippen, who had 12 points. "We had to gut this one out."
Los Angeles, seeking only its fourth win of the season, trailed by five after scoring seven straight points with nine minutes remaining. But Price hit two consecutive 3-pointers to extend Houston's lead to 90-79 with 7:56 left. Price scored 14 of his 19 in the fourth.
"Brent gave us a big lift offensively and we distributed the ball," Pippen said. "Not one guy totally dominated and outshone anyone."
That's rare for the Rockets, who get most of their offense and rebounding from Olajuwon, Pippen and Barkley.
Othella Harrington was one of seven Rockets in double figures with 17 points. Barkley had 12 points and 14 rebounds and Olajuwon had 13 points.
Rookie Tyrone Nesby led the Clippers with a career-high 24 points. Maurice Taylor added 21 and Darrick Martin 19.
"I had a great game," Nesby said. "At the same time, I want a `W.' I don't care about scoring two points or 40 points, I just want to win."
The Clippers scored five straight to pull within six with 6:42 remaining, but Olajuwon scoreone of the two baskets he had in the second half and Price hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter that pushed Houston back to a double-digit lead.
"We felt like we kept guys in check in the second half," Taylor said. "When Price hit those 3s, it takes it right out of you, especially when you're making a run."
After Nesby dunked with 3:15 left to keep the Clippers within eight, they never challenged again.
Notes: Olajuwon needs 15 points to become the 12th player in NBA history with 25,000 career points. He is second among active players behind Utah's Karl Malone. ... The Rockets tied a franchise record for most wins in March with their 14th victory, only the second time they've won that many in March in the club's 32-year history. They finished the month with a 14-3 record. ... The last time Houston won nine straight was Nov. 18-Dec. 19, 1997. The Clippers are 0-2 against the Rockets this season. They haven't beaten Houston since Feb. 9, 1995. ... The Rockets' ninth consecutive win over the Clippers is their longest in the series, which Houston leads 82-47. ... A reporter spilled an open beer in Barkley's locker on the player's brown jacket and he tried hopelessly to mop up. She apologized and Barkley replied, "That's OK, baby. I don't get upset about the little things."
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