Rockets dominate Bullets, 129-117


HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets are one of the National Basketball Association's hottest teams east of the Los Angeles Lakers. And the Washington Bullets are one of the league's coldest outfits.

It was a bad combination for the Bullets.

They fell behind early and never got close, dropping a 129-117 decision to the Rockets at the Summit last night. Houston was up by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets, who had looked shaky in Utah on Tuesday, returned home to dominate the Bullets as they won the eighth of their past 10 games.

The Bullets lost for the fifth time in six games and the second time in three nights in Texas.

They play Dallas tonight at Reunion Arena, then can say goodbye to all this Texas hospitality.

Otis Thorpe continued to play like a superstar for the Rockets, scoring 28 points (24 in the first half) and pulling down 11 rebounds. He was one of four Rockets with 20 or more points. Guards Vernon Maxwell, Kenny Smith and Sleepy Floyd were the others.

The Bullets got 29 points from Bernard King, but very little else to go with it.

The Bullets were unable to get anything going. The rebounding was a disaster and the Rockets rarely encountered any noteworthy Bullets defense.

"We just don't have defensive-thinking people, but I'm not surprised," coach Wes Unseld said. "The problem is we just have too many non-defensive people in the game if we hope to score any points."

Scoring points wasn't a problem as the Bullets shot 59.5 percent, but poor rebounding was their downfall. They weren't even close in this game despite their hot shooting.

The Rockets had a 14-point lead after one quarter and never let it slip below 10 the rest of the night.

They started the fourth period with that same 14-point margin, then quickly pushed the lead above 20 points.

The Bullets were missing injured guard Darrell Walker, but it's doubtful anything would have helped as the Rockets shot 60 percent in the first half in addition to dominating the boards.

If the Bullets were desperate for a bright spot, it's that John Williams played his second game in three days after missing 14 months because of his knee injury and slow rehabilitation.

He played 14 minutes and had six points, five rebounds and four assists.

"I have to start all over again," Williams, 6 feet 8, said. "You have got to have patience and be grateful for playing time."

Rockets coach Don Chaney sounded grateful that Williams wasn't at full strength.

"I thought the guy was definitely on the road to being a superstar [before the injury]," Chaney said. "He can put the ball on the floor and beat you to the basket, which is phenomenal at his size."

The Rockets also were dominating the Bullets in rebounding. They had 25 in the first half to the Bullets' 13.

With all this going for them, the Rockets took control of the game late in the first quarter, when they scored 22 points in the final 4 minutes, 32 seconds.

With his team ahead 21-17, Kenny Smith broke loose for seven points and Thorpe added four as the Rockets bolted to a 35-23 advantage.

That cushion kept getting bigger. By the end of the quarter it was 43-29 and when Floyd hit a 15-footer for the Rockets, it was 65-46.

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