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NBA PLAYOFFS

Sonics Give Rockets a Splitting Headache

Western Conference: Kemp, Perkins have big nights in 106-101 victory that evens series.

May 08, 1997|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — Shawn Kemp had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Sam Perkins battled Hakeem Olajuwon to a standoff as Seattle built a big halftime lead and then held on to beat Houston, 106-101, Wednesday night to even their Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.

Perkins, who got a rare start at center for Seattle, scored 18 points, only one fewer than Olajuwon. Perkins started only four games in the regular season.

Hersey Hawkins added 21 points for Seattle, which led by 18 points at halftime before Houston rallied in the second half.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series will be Friday in Seattle.

The SuperSonics, who lost the series opener, 112-102, went on a 31-8 run in the second quarter to take a 65-47 halftime lead.

But the Rockets stormed back in the second half, scoring nine consecutive points to cut Seattle's lead to 90-88 with 4:04 left. The spurt featured a three-point play by Olajuwon, a three-point basket by Clyde Drexler, a tip by Olajuwon and a free throw by Mario Elie.

But the Sonics held on behind Kemp and Detlef Schrempf. Kemp scored seven points and Schrempf made four free throws down the stretch for Seattle, which was 31 of 33 from the line.

Drexler led the Rockets with 25 points and eight assists. Charles Barkley finished with 21 points, including two three-point baskets in the final minute.

Both teams made nine of 27 from three-point range. The Rockets burned the Sonics from long range in Game 1, making 10 of 15.

The Rockets opened the third quarter with a 12-2 run, but never got closer than 10 points in the quarter, which ended with Seattle leading 82-70.

Houston led 39-34 early in the second quarter before Seattle scored 14 consecutive points to take command.

Barkley and Olajuwon were called for technical fouls before the half ended. Olajuwon got his technical when he threw a ball that struck referee Joe Forte.

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