Charles Barkley hit a tiebreaking 20-foot jumper with 3.6 seconds remaining, as the Houston Rockets avoided a four-game season sweep by the Los Angeles Lakers with a 90-88 victory on Sunday.
Barkley, who admitted to a drinking problem on NBC's pregame show, led Houston with 26 points. Hakeem Olajuwon added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Rockets, who won for the fourth time in their last six visits to the Forum and became the first Midwest Division team to beat the Lakers in 18 games this season.Shaquille O'Neal, Rick Fox and Kobe Bryant each scored 18 points for the Lakers, who fell three games behind division rival Seattle in the race for the NBA's best record.
Lakers forward Robert Horry left the game with 9:55 left in the third quarter. He aggravated an earlier injury that has been diagnosed as a varicocele - a dilated vein in the groin area that causes pain and discomfort. Horry will see a urologist on Monday for further evaluation.
Rockets leading scorer Clyde Drexler, who missed his first nine shots from the field and finished 2-for-16, put the Rockets ahead 84-82 when he drove the left baseline for a layup and converted the three-point play with three minutes left.
O'Neal tied it at 88 when he lost Olajuwon under the basket and slammed it home with 25.8 seconds to play.
Barkley, who has come off the Rockets' bench in all four games since the All-Star break, then hit his game-winner over Elden Campbell from the left of the key.
Nick Van Exel, who missed all nine of his field goal attempts, had the ball in his hands after an inbounds pass from Eddie Jones. But his 18-footer from straight away missed and Bryant's tip-in try also failed at the buzzer.
Matt Bullard, who was held out of Houston's starting lineup because of a viral infection, made a pair of 3-pointers and a 15-foot jumper in a 2:15 span to turn a two-point deficit into a 68-62 lead with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Houston led 46-45 at halftime despite 0-for-8 shooting by Drexler and 37-percent shooting by the team. Barkley scored 16 points in the half, including 10 in a 12-2 run that turned Houston's six-point deficit into a 40-36 lead with 4:33 left in the second quarter.HEAT 116, RAPTORS 95: At Toronto, Alonzo Mourning scored 31 points and Miami rolled over the Raptors, who dressed an NBA minimum eight players for the game.
The Raptors were without Gary Trent, Alvin Williams and Kenny Anderson, all acquired last Friday in a trade with Portland. Anderson has not yet reported to his new team while Trent and Williams didn't complete their physical exams by game time.
Voshon Lenard scored 13 of his 25 points in the third quarter when the Heat pulled away.
John Wallace led Toronto with 27 points while Doug Christie and rookie Tracy McGrady added 17 points apiece.
TIMBERWOLVES 105, MAVERICKS 99 : At Minneapolis, Stephon Marbury scored nine of his 23 points in overtime as Minnesota outlasted Dallas.
Reserves Sam Mitchell and Terry Porter led a charge that saw Minnesota's bench players outscore Dallas' 48-23. Mitchell had a season-high 25 points and nine rebounds, while Porter had 17 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Michael Finley scored 31 points to lead the Mavericks, who fell to 3-23 on the road after snapping a 22-game road losing streak Friday night at Indiana.
BULLS 99, PISTONS 90: At Chicago, Toni Kukoc, a surprise starter after Dennis Rodman missed practice, scored 22 points and the Chicago Bulls withstood the late 3-point shooting of Lindsey Hunter.
Michael Jordan added 21 points and had 12 rebounds while Scottie Pippen had 20 points for the Bulls.
Hunter had five 3-pointers and 19 points in the fourth quarter. He finished 7-for-19 on 3s and with 31 points. Brian Williams had 21 before fouling out with 3:42 left.
Kukoc scored 14 of his points in the second half as Chicago beat Detroit for the 18th time in the last 19 meetings.