SEATTLE — The Seattle SuperSonics, after trailing through most of the first three quarters, earned a trip to the Western Conference finals with a 103-100 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
"I don't know who's the better basketball team," SuperSonic Coach George Karl said. "These two teams are so close it's unbelievable."
Said Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon: "It was a tough series from the beginning, and it could have gone either way. This just shows you how important the home-court advantage is."
Added Rocket Coach Rudy Tomjanovich: "We gave everything we could."
The SuperSonics won four of seven games during the series, in which no road team was able to win. Seattle will play Phoenix in a series that will begin Monday at Phoenix.
Pierce scored 25 points, Sam Perkins 23 and Shawn Kemp 18 for Seattle, which overcame a 23-point, 17-rebound performance by Olajuwon. Kemp, who had only a free throw during Game 6 on Thursday night at Houston, had 11 rebounds.
Kemp said he earned everything he could get in the series.
"It's hard to finish with Hakeem there," he said. "I decided if I went aggressively at him, I might get some free throws."
Tied, 93-93, at the end of regulation and 95-95 after the first 1:15 of overtime, the SuperSonics went ahead to stay on two free throws by Ricky Pierce with 2:47 to play. Kemp added a 12-footer over Olajuwon with 2:07 to play.
The Rockets got to within 99-98 when Olajuwon made a free throw with 52 seconds to play, but Perkins made a 12-foot shot over Otis Thorpe with 28 seconds remaining for a 101-98 Seattle lead.
Olajuwon's 12-foot hook in the lane with 15 seconds to play cut Seattle's lead to 101-100, and Derrick McKey of the SuperSonics missed two free throws after being deliberately fouled by Kenny Smith with 14 seconds remaining.
Vernon Maxwell, who finished with 19 points, missed an 18-foot baseline shot for Houston with 0.8 seconds to play, and Kemp was fouled by rookie Robert Horry after rebounding Maxwell's miss. He made two free throws for the final points of the game.
"A lot of nights, that would go in," Tomjanovich said of Maxwell's shot. "We set up the play and we liked the shot considering the pressure situation."
The SuperSonics weren't double-teaming Olajuwon on the play, so Maxwell wasn't as open as he was most of the time during the series, and Kemp was in the perfect spot to get the rebound.
The Rockets outscored Seattle, 10-4, in the final 4:30 of regulation to gain the tie.