Another day, another hero for the Houston Rockets.
After a night of misfiring, fouls and frustration in round one of the battle for Texas, Robert Horry made his only basket of the night Monday, and the Houston Rockets had a 94-93 victory over San Antonio.
The improbable Rockets, playing their 11th game in 20 days, took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals and stole the home-court advantage from the Spurs, who had earned it throughout the playoffs with the best record in the NBA.
“Our battle cry right now is stay humble and stay hungry,” Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.
The Rockets went more than 2 minutes without a field goal until Horry, who was 0 for 4 to that point, hit an open 18-footer with 6.5 seconds to play.
“We swung it to the open man, just like we have all season,” Horry said. “I was surprised I was so open. At that time, there was no time to doubt yourself. I’ve always had confidence in my ability to hit the big shot.”
Sean Elliott, who led the Spurs with 24 points, missed two free throws with 26.6 seconds to go and his shot from the lane with 2 seconds to go bounced off the rim.
Houston got the rebound and the defending champions continued their surprising march through the playoffs after winding up the fifth seed in the West.
“I don’t have the words to describe that team I have over there,” Tomjanovich said. “They’ve got the biggest hearts in the world. After two very hard-fought series against two very great teams, and now we’re playing the team with the best record in the league. It’s just amazing what this team can do when we hang together.”
David Robinson was 1 for 11 from the field through three quarters but scored 12 in the final period. However, he missed 1-of-2 free throws with 46 seconds left, then Elliott missed two more with 26.6 seconds to go to leave the door open for the Rockets.
Hakeem Olajuwon scored 27 despite late foul trouble. Clyde Drexler added 25 and 12 rebounds. Robinson scored 21, his lowest total of this year’s playoffs.
Dennis Rodman had another strong game off the boards with 20 rebounds, but again proved how temperamental he can be. Several times he removed himself from huddles, including the last two.
When the Spurs took the floor for their final shot with 6.5 seconds left, Rodman and his tequila sunrise colored head were not on the court. Coach Bob Hill said it was strategy, not discipline, that sent Rodman to the bench.
“Dennis was not a distraction tonight in any way, shape or form, and please print that,” Hill said. “Dennis stands or sits on the outskirts all year long. If you’ve watched, you’ve seen that.”
During the game, Rodman took off his shoes, often paying no attention whatsoever to Hill’s instructions as he stared blankly from the end of the bench.
“I don’t know,” Rodman said when asked why Hill took him out. “It could have been a situation where I could’ve gotten a rebound.”
Hill said it was just a bad performance all around.
“We played with enormous complacency, not aggressive,” Hill said.
Rockets 94, Spurs 93
Horry 1-5 5-8 7, Chilcutt 1-4 0-0 2, Olajuwon 12-24 3-3 27, Drexler 10-21 4-5 25, Smith 2-7 1-1 5, Elie 5-9 2-2 16, Jones 3-5 0-0 6, Brown 0-3 0-0 0, Cassell 2-7 2-2 6. Totals 36-85 17-21 94.
SAN ANTONIO (93)
Rodman 1-7 2-4 4, Elliott 9-16 5-8 24, Robinson 5-17 11-16 21, Johnson 9-14 0-0 18, Del Negro 3-7 1-2 8, Person 0-3 2-3 2, Cummings 2-4 0-0 4, Reid 2-3 0-0 4, Rivers 2-7 4-6 8, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-78 25-39 93.
Houston 26 26 22 20 - 94 San Antonio 23 30 15 25 - 93
3-Point goals-Houston 5-16 (Elie 4-5, Drexler 1-4, Smith 0-1, Cassell 0-1, Chilcutt 0-2, Horry 0-3), San Antonio 2-8 (Elliott 1-2, Del Negro 1-2, Rodman 0-1, Rivers 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Houston 52 (Drexler 12), San Antonio 60 (Rodman 20). Assists-Houston 25 (Olajuwon 6), San Antonio 18 (Johnson 9). Total fouls-Houston 26, San Antonio 20. Technicals-Houston coach Tomjanovich, Rodman. A-33,337 (34,215).
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