Sweet Moses who lit the fire under the Dream?
Hakeem Olajuwon came out in the second half with guns ablazing, and showed the young Rocket fans what the Dream was really all about. Olajuwon sparked a huge 34-12 Rocket third quarter to help the team pull off a monster second half comeback and ultimately the 100-86 win over the New York Knicks in the Compaq Center.
The win improves the Rockets record to 23-25 and snaps a 3-game slide. The Rockets became only the fourth team this season to get 100 points on the Knicks.
But oh my it was good to see Mr. Olajuwon again. I mean the Real Dream. Maybe he'll think twice about leaving... or the offers are flooding in now. Either way, after getting torched by Marcus Camby (14 points) in the first half, the sleeping giant awoke, scoring 16 points, 8 boards, 4 steals and 2 blocks -- all in the second half.
So impressive was the franchise's greatest player, he received a standing ovation from the Rocket faithful as time was expiring in the fourth.
Hakeem hit 7-9 shots and finished with 18 and 9.
"He looked 26 out there," said Steve Francis.
Francis wasn't too bad himself. Breathtaking might describe it better. Francis bingoed 5 triples, scoring 29 points (on 10-16 shooting), 10 boards and 5 assists in 42 minutes.
Attention Mr. Webber: The kid can play.
Cuttino Mobley added 21 points on 9-21 shooting and made some nice defensive plays in the third. He did make some poor decisions (7 turnovers), particularly down the stretch. As Calvin Murphy stated after a Cuttino offensive foul that resulted from a rushed drive, "That's not smart basketball." Amazing talent and a very good game, but poor decision making is still a factor.
Allan Houston was en fuego, especially in the second half. He finished with 31 to lead all scorers and in the second half the man could have bounced it off his ass and it would have gone in. Seriously. Dude was something to see...
Nice to see Shandon Anderson put up decent numbers in a box score again. He scored 7 of his 11 in the first quarter and add 5 assists. Maurice Taylor added 10 while Carlos Rogers had 6 off the bench.
Great to see Shandon Anderson get going early -- after Francis hit a three to tie it at 5, Shandon drained a three of his own then scored on a hard drive to the bucket to put Houston up 10-7.
After Mobley hit a jumper, it was 14-9 Rockets and the Knicks had to call a quick timeout. Good idea they did because they came out of the huddle and promplty tore off on an 11-2 run, making it 20-16 Knicks.
The Knicks kept pouring it on, and the Rockets couldn't stop them. In fact, New York scored 37 points, the most the Rockets have given up in a first quarter this season. 37-27 after one. Allan Houston and Marcus Camby each had 9 while Latrell Sprewell had 8. Shandon Anderson led the Rockets with 7.
The Rockets got within 39-32, but Camby responded with a three-point play and after Chris Childs knocked down a jumper, it was 46-34 Knicks with 6:36 left in the half. Timeout Rockets.
The Rocks however couldn't make any headway, and they trailed 58-46 at intermission. The Rockets shot just 40% to the Knicks almost 53% in the half. Cuttino Mobley led the Rockets with 13, but shot just 5-14 at the break.
The Rockets got some momentum going to start the third. After Mo hit a jump hook then Mobley found Shandon on a drive, the Rockets had whittled the lead down to 60-54. After Francis nailed a pair of free throws followed by a triple, the Rockets were within 64-61.
Then Olajuwon pulled something out from deep in the vintage closet. He spun around Marcus Camby, got the bucket off the glass and the foul -- crowd erupted. Dream's free throw knotted it up at 64.
Dream then got the crowd in an uproar once again as a classic DreamShake move resulted in a 15-foot fadeaway, and the Rockets regained the lead 67-66. And if Dream got them fired up, Francis took them even higher. He tried getting Hakeem the ball in the post, and when that wasn't available, he pulled up for three -- and nailed it.
After Mo Taylor picked Larry Johnson's pocket, Steve went coast to coast for the layin, forcing the Knicks to call timeout down 74-68. The crowd was as loud as the Laptop has been all season.
Didn't take long before Dream picked Luc Longley, then nailed a jumper on the other end and the Rockets scoring run, unbelievably, was 30-10 in the third.
You knew it was the Rockets quarter when it was capped by a Mobley 18-foot fade with 1 second left in the half. Rockets 80, Knicks 70.
What a quarter. The Rockets completely turned the game around and the fans were incredibly appreciative of the effort. Francis had 22 points and 10 boards through three while Mobley had 17. Dream added 12.
The momentum completely shifted back to New York to start the fourth. Allan Houston hit two jumpers sandwhiched around a Glen Rice slam. The Rockets, forced to call timeout, were scoreless the first 2 minutes and led just 80-76.
The timeout did the Rockets good -- Francis scored, then two Olajuwon steals turned in to a Mo Taylor slam and a tough up and under by Hakeem for two... the lead was back up to 10 and the crowd was intense once more.
After Shandon Anderson scored, the Rockets had their biggest lead at 12, but Allan Houston responded with a three (his 8th field goal in last 9 attempts) then LJ nailed a jumper and it was trimmed down to 7, but Francis knocked down a triple to give him 27 points.
Allan Houston continued to smoke, trimming the lead to 7, but when no Rocket wanted to shoot the ball, Mobley threw it in to Hakeem with the shot clock winding down and Dream calmly proceeded to nail a 16-foot fadeaway with 2:26 to go, forcing the Knicks to call timeout and giving Houston a 95-86 lead.
The crowd was in an uproar.
Hakeem built the lead up to 11 with a pair of free throws with under 2 minutes to go, and with 1:01 to go, he swatted Larry Johnson.
The fans got on their feet, giving the legend a standing ovation for the amazing effort.