Steve Francis scored 22 points and Hakeem Olajuwon had 12 points and 11 rebounds last night as the Houston Rockets took advantage of Shaquille O'Neal's suspension to win their first game, 97-81 over the Lakers in Los Angeles.
In the third quarter, the Lakers also lost their coach--Phil Jackson was ejected for drawing two quick technicals for complaining about the officiating.
O'Neal, the Lakers' star center, and Rockets forward Charles Barkley each missed the game after receiving one-game suspensions for their fight in Wednesday night's game in Houston.
Even with O'Neal gone--along with Barkley--from that game early in the second quarter, the Lakers won, 89-88, Wednesday.
In the rematch last night, Carlos Rogers added 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting for the Rockets. Houston's 0-5 start was its worst since 1992.
The absence of O'Neal on defense was obvious, as John Salley, Travis Knight and A.C. Green were mostly ineffective sharing the duty at center for the Lakers.
Glen Rice was the Lakers' leading scorer with 11 points.
* 76ERS 92, BULLS 86: Allen Iverson scored 35 points and led a 16-0 surge in the second half that host Philadelphia over winless Chicago. At 0-5, the Bulls are off to their worst start since they lost their first nine in 1967-68. Iverson shot 9 for 24 from the field and 16 of 23 from the foul line. He scored 14 points in the third quarter, including nine during an 11-0 run that closed the period.
"When [Iverson] gets it going, nobody can guard him," Bulls Coach Tim Floyd said. "It takes a village."
* CELTICS 80, KNICKS 74: Antoine Walker scored 22 points as Boston, helped by an injury to New York's Marcus Camby, held off a late rally to win at home. Camby watched from the bench with tendinitis in his left knee after leaving the game midway through the first quarter.
* KINGS 105, JAZZ 92: Chris Webber had 20 points and nine rebounds in leading Sacramento to a home victory. The Kings received 37 points from their bench.
* BUCKS 107, SUNS 92: Glenn Robinson grabbed 12 rebounds and scored 12 of his 27 points in the third quarter to lead host Milwaukee. "We have a tremendous offensive team right now," the Bucks' Ray Allen (20 points) said. "We started hitting our shots all at once, and there was really nothing they could do."
* HORNETS 96, NETS 92: Eddie Jones hit all 12 free throws and scored 24 points as Charlotte improved to 4-0 at home.
* TRAIL BLAZERS 93, NUGGETS 78: Rasheed Wallace had 19 points and 11 rebounds as visiting Portland withstood a second-half charge by Denver.
* WARRIORS 103, GRIZZLIES 93: John Starks's 14 first-half points got visiting Golden State off early as the Warriors won their first game. Chris Mills scored 20 points and added seven rebounds off the bench, and Starks finished with 22 points.