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End of Houston Era? Olajuwon Lifts Rockets

April 18, 2001|From Associated Press

If it was Hakeem Olajuwon's last game in a Houston uniform, a sellout crowd made certain the franchise's greatest player went out with a hero's goodbye.

Olajuwon, a free agent after this season, scored 24 points and thrilled fans with some vintage moves as the Rockets rolled to a season-ending 114-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night at Houston.

Olajuwon, who has played 17 seasons for the Rockets, started the season planning to retire, but changed his mind and is expected to play again next season, even if it means leaving the Rockets.

That didn't keep the crowd of 16,285 from cheering Olajuwon's every move.

"All I know is I still feel that I can play," Olajuwon said. "This is really the first time in two years that I've really been healthy."

As time ran down in the fourth quarter with their hero on the bench, the demand went up "We want Dream! We want Dream!"

Olajuwon returned to the court smiling broadly to the standing ovation that awaited him. When Olajuwon left the game with 53 seconds to play, fans stood the remainder of the game chanting "Hakeem! Hakeem!"

"It was just that crowd reaction," Olajuwon said. "This will always be a family regardless of what happen, you can't overlook that."

Philadelphia 111, Indiana 105--Jumaine Jones had a career-high 26 points as the 76ers won in overtime at Indianapolis.

Indiana, which faces Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs, finished 0-3 against the 76ers.

Philadelphia played without Allen Iverson, who was put on the injured list Tuesday to be rested and healthy for the playoffs.

Toronto 94, Detroit 92--Vince Carter made a baseline jump shot with 7.6 seconds left in overtime at Toronto to keep the Raptors' hopes alive for home-court advantage in the playoffs.

With one day left in the regular season, Toronto can finish fourth, fifth or sixth. If the Raptors win their game tonight at Washington, they can finish no worse than fifth and will get fourth if New York loses to Detroit.

Miami 91, Milwaukee 89--Alonzo Mourning dunked off an inbounds pass with two-tenths of a second left at Miami and the Heat clinched the No. 3 seeding in the Eastern Conference.

The game was meaningless for the Bucks, who have clinched the Central Division title and will be seeded No. 2.

Chicago 100, New Jersey 94--Ron Artest made a go-ahead layup with 39.2 seconds left at East Rutherford, N.J., as the Bulls added a final insult to the Nets' injury-plagued season.

Atlanta 122, Washington 119--Dion Glover scored a career-high 28 points as the Hawks rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit at Atlanta.

Around the League

Jayson Williams, the former New Jersey center who retired last year after a serious leg injury, is considering a comeback next season, former teammate and close friend Keith Van Horn said. . . . Hugh Evans, an NBA referee for 28 seasons, will retire after the playoffs. . . . Eric Fleisher, the former agent for Detroit forward Joe Smith, has accepted a $57,000 fine and six-month suspension for negotiating an illegal secret contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves. . . . The Atlanta Hawks will play host to the 2003 All-Star game.

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