Rockets finish up strong; Bulls flame out


Hakeem Olajuwon says Houston kept its focus, despite a charge that wasn't called on Michael Jordan.
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Kevin Willis explains the meaning behind the victory.
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Jordan says the Bulls didn't capitalize on their opportunities.
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Olajuwon and Willis show the Bulls no respect as each elbows Scottie Pippen.
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Willis hits the baby hook over Toni Kukoc.
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Jordan steals the inbound pass and goes in for the jam.
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

HOUSTON -- Mario Elie fueled a game-ending 19-2 run as the Houston Rockets ended the Chicago Bulls' nine-game winning streak with a 102-86 victory Sunday.

CHICAGO's only basket over the final 7:12 was an uncontested dunk by Randy Brown with 8.6 seconds to play.

"They played well down the stretch," Michael Jordan said of the Rockets. "Mario Elie made a big three that put them into a rhythm -- one that we could not find. We just couldn't get into position to control the ball game."

Houston avenged a 24-point loss in Chicago on Jan. 11. The conference leaders split the season series and will not meet again unless they advance to the NBA Finals. Chicago (four) and Houston (two) have won the last six championships.

"I'm very happy with the way it came out," Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon said. "When you play against the champions, you've got to come out and play well. The team was focused in the locker room before the game. It was a war out there."

Houston played without All-Star forward Charles Barkley, who has a sprained ankle. Chicago was missing a pair of starters: Ron Harper is on the injured list with a bad back and Dennis Rodman was suspended Friday for kicking a courtside cameraman.

Olajuwon had 32 points and 16 rebounds and Clyde Drexler had a triple-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Kevin Willis filled in for Barkley with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Olajuwon, who played the entire game without drinking any water, shot 14 for 25 from the field and added five blocks and four steals. During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours.

"What Mr. Olajuwon did today -- to play that well without drinking a drop of water during the game -- was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life," Barkley said.

"I had some rice and also chicken (before sunrise) and hoped that would stay with me," Olajuwon said. "The hunger was not there; it was the thirst. I tried not to think about it. The thing is to control your desire."

Jordan had 26 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who had won their last four meetings with the Rockets since Nov. 17, 1994. Forwards Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc combined for just eight points on three-for-24 shooting.

The momentum turned when Sam Mack tried to draw a charge on Jordan, who was driving on the fast break. But the foul was called on Mack, and Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich drew a technical foul when he argued the call.

"The game was very intensely fought," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "I felt good about it in the middle of the fourth period. Then we got the crowd upset when the technical happened. After that, our offense stopped and theirs started."

"(Jordan) ran right into me. I couldn't believe it," Mack said. "Sometimes when we get a bad call, the coach needs to get a technical or something to stand up for his team. After that, we were psyched."

Jordan hit all three free throws, giving Chicago an 84-83 lead, its first since 9-6 in the opening quarter -- and its last. Olajuwon made four free throws and Willis sank a jump hook to give Houston an 89-84 edge with 3:58 remaining.

Elie made a 3-pointer and stole the ball from Pippen, setting up Olajuwon's hook with 2:40 to go. Drexler and Elie made 3-pointers and Elie added a dunk with 42 seconds left before Brown dunked.

During Houston's run, the Bulls had as many timeouts as points.

"It's been a while since something like that has happened," Jordan said of the fourth-quarter embarrassment. "No one is immune to something like that."

Bill Wennington had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench and Luc Longley added 12 points for the Bulls, who shot just 36 percent (33 for 91) but held a 50-45 rebounding edge.

CHICAGO's bench outscored Houston's reserves 36-11. Brown and Steve Kerr each scored 11 points.

Jordan scored 12 points in the second quarter as Chicago cut the deficit to 55-51 at halftime. He went scoreless in the third period, but Kerr picked up the slack, scoring all 11 of his points. The Rockets held a 75-73 edge entering the fourth quarter.

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